First-person essays have been around as long as the craft of writing itself, and they’ve enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see why: from an editorial standpoint, first-person narratives offer a potentially unique take on a particular topic, and the outlet that runs them is able to offer a perspective that none of their competitors have. From a more cynical business-side view, since these essays are typically the work of freelancers or unpaid contributors, the outlet risks very little in terms of money or exposure while potentially reaping the benefits if the piece goes viral.
I woke up this morning to a text from my fiancée. It was a link to an article titled “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being,” written by John Vercher for Cognoscenti. I felt a pang of recognition; you see, I’d written an essay by the same title over a year ago. I’d shopped it around to various outlets, but didn’t receive any responses. I wasn’t surprised by the lack of interest; it is (necessarily) long, and I doubt there’s much of a market for first-person essays about biracial people who identify as black but present as white.