Question: So I could say a lot about WusGood but you’re going to be able to say it a lot better than I will so would you mind starting by telling me a little about WusGood?
Mathias: We’re friends first off. The editors are family. We’re squad. It was originally Siaara’s [Siaara Freeman] idea. She had the vision for it based on what is her credo, how she navigates the world. And it’s so dope because I think one of the things years ago, almost a decade back— when I first met her, that stood out was the feeling of acceptance of myself in all spaces. She was comfortable being Siaara no matter where Siaara was. Which is something that I think a lot of times we [PoC] get stripped of when going into the spaces we are going into, especially as black urban writers that typically aren’t accepted in a lot of other spaces.
In these other spaces you’re forced into a kind of cookie-cutter, this is how you’re supposed to write, this is what you’re supposed to write about, this how you’re supposed to speak, this is kind the politics of all these other things—a lot of times it hedges your potential.
Maybe not in function but on a spiritual level. In the way that I could be so much more of who I am in a space and I need that to grow and thrive— that’s where WusGood comes in. Because I think that it really provides a space and pronounces itself: this is a PoC space. This is an urban space. This is a hood space. We’re going to let the world know we’re here and what our experiences are, what we’re writing about, what we’re talking about— and not only are they valid but they should be published, people should know who we are and what we’re going through.
It bridges a gap for a lot of different reasons but primarily it lets you know that you’ve always got a home. It’s a microcosm of black people navigating the world. What I’m noticing is the generation before mine and before that were taught this is how you act and speak at home and then there’s these ways you’ve gotta cut yourself off to appease the public whitewashing: this is your interview voice, this is how you walk and address people, things like that. You don’t really recognize what that does to you for a very long time— really until you get an opportunity to step aside and separate yourself from it. Being at the cookout with your uncles or sitting on the couch with your moms and then compare that to how you act in other spaces and see this complete dichotomy of behavior. And giving people another space to feel safe being themselves, being a person of color, being hood, that’s the goal of WusGood: to provide another space to make the dichotomy less severe.
Question: So what’s the benefit of being able to escape that dichotomy?
Mathias: It’s almost a kind of shift in freedom that being myself in all spaces has allowed me. It’s sort of like seeing the first black anything, you know… Black Panther was the first black movie that big with that much representation. It’s this feeling where you’re sitting in the theater and you’re saying wow look at all these black people around me, and even if that wasn’t the case, even if there’s a mix; you’re still here to watch Black Panther and now everyone in the world knows and can’t deny black people can act extremely well, that black people have this extremely rich culture too.
Comment: Not only that but also the soundtrack! the score! everything was so amazing!
Mathias: Absolutely! That’s the thing, we end up almost internalizing this idea that it’s good for a black thing and I think a lot of different industries have that mentality towards any product that’s produced by or for black people. Even if you’re talking about sales, we have as a culture, and I say as a culture because a lot of this is internalized— if you spend enough time around people giving a distinction to it being a black movie and the connotation that comes with it to do with the quality of acting, scriptwriting, all that other stuff; WE [PoC] almost start putting those labels on ourselves because we’re thinking to ourselves we won’t get the ticket sales or the accolades these other movies do. And Black Panther proved that wrong. That feeling was so triumphant, and that’s what we want to give the world in these smaller doses at WusGood.