Mia McKenzie is a writer, activist, and the founder of the website Black Girl Dangerous (BGD). She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh. McKenzie identifies as a queer Black feminist and uses her writing and website to make space for LGBTQ people of color. Her debut novel, The Summer We Got Free, received the Lambda Literary Award in 2013. Her essays and short stories appear regularly on BGD as well as various publications, such as the Kenyon Review. McKenzie presents talks that center around the intersections of race, class, queerness, and gender at universities and conferences across the United States She currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Personal life and education
Mia McKenzie was born and raised in Philadelphia. She grew up in a working-class family where the Christian church was important to family life. In an interview with Elixher magazine, Mia states, "I come from a family of churchgoers and I was raised going to church, and because of that I have a particular interest in and connection to the stories of Black church folk, and especially the ways in which incredible amounts of queerness and equal amounts of homophobia co-exist in Black churches". McKenzie studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Lectures and appearances
McKenzie has visited several universities, colleges, and conferences to speak on race, class, gender, queerness and their intersections. Brown University, Amherst College, Michigan State University, Portland State University, University of California at Berkeley, Penn State, Oberlin College, Reed College, Lawrence University, UC Santa Barbara, University of Oregon, Chapman University, and University of Washington are some of the institutions that she has presented to. In 2013 she gave a keynote address at Harvard University to the HBGC LGBTQ Youth Empowerment Conference.
Mia McKenzie's work has been referenced on news sites such as Salon, HuffPost Black Voices, New Republic, and The Brown Daily Herald. In her interview with Elixher, McKenzie talks about why she started Black Girl Dangerous:
As Black women, we are always so cognizant of people’s perceptions of us, and always having to modify ourselves–our tones of voice, the language we use–to make other people feel less threatened by us. We are expected to accommodate anti-Black racism by not doing or saying anything that will scare white folks. In this way, we are asked to make racism easier for people. I got tired of being expected to do that. I decided that I would, instead, embrace my own dangerousness–remake it and reshape it and retell it–and use it as a tool of self-expression.
Awards and distinctions
- Lambda Literary Award for The Summer We Got Free (2013)
- Leeway Foundation Transformation Award (2011)
- Astraea Foundation Writers Fund Award (2009)
- Black Girl Dangerous: On Race, Queerness, Class, and Gender. BGD Press. 2014
- "Illegitimate". The Kenyon Review. 2013
- "America only gets enraged about gun violence in white neighborhoods". The Guardian. April 2013
- The Summer We Got Free. BGD Press. 2012