by Xion Abiodun
Who is Zaire? A writer at the Bayview, just like me? A copyeditor for them as well, unlike me, yes! But that is not all, people are more than their career. If I was asked who Zaire is I would describe him as an intellectual, who is also good at writing. It’s different when you ask someone who they are vs asking someone else who someone is. So let’s go into depth about who Zaire really is, and hear it from him.
Xion: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Zaire: I come from San Jacinto California. That is where my family stays and where I was raised. It’s a small town in southern california, literally in a valley. As for my age, I’m twenty four years old, I’ll be twenty five this year. A terrifyingly yet important milestone in my life. My aspiration is to be a writer; to have novels published, a book of poetry, maybe even a book of essays! But right now my profession is just a copy editor for the Bay View while contributing pieces to the paper each month.
Xion: Why did you come to the Bay Area? What do you hope to gain from here?
Zaire: San Jacinto, while beautiful and filled with highly intelligent and genuine folks, isn’t the most bountiful when it comes to opportunities. I’m talking about film makers, producers and musicians. San Jacinto has all of them who are out doing their thing and folks still waiting to do their thing. And as far as I can remember ( I don’t frequent my hometown nearly as much as I should) all the lower end jobs; the fast food gigs and stuff like that, are occupied by parents and folks who are working to keep their families alive; I’m talking about working class Black and Brown folks. So I know a lot of peers who joined the military for way out reasons.
I’m not one to take orders well. Truth be told, I don’t particularly do well with discipline either so that would never work for me. I’m here for freedom. I’m all about doing this whole life thing my own way. So, my best shot, the way I see it, is to write. Being here I hope to gain the experience I need and deserve to live my life.
Xion: What are some of your goals and how are you working towards them?:
Zaire: I’ve already stated a few of them: Writing various books and just having more pieces published. The poet Emily Dickinson has a poem called “If I can stop one heart from breaking” that’s touched me since I read it as a child in high school. It goes:
If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching
Or cool one in pain
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain
So that’s how I see myself and my work. I want to liberate at least one (Black) person, multiple people would be astounding. If I can offer them a good story, or a poem that just touches the soul and gives them hope, I want to remind us of our humanity so we can go forward and free someone else; then my life would never be in vain. It won’t ever be lost on me that Black people were forbidden from doing exactly what I do every day; reading and writing. It’s a huge deal, and I want to do my part in following the tradition of Black writers who have come before and are currently doing their thing. I want to be part of that legacy, that pathway. The Bay View paper is a great place for me to achieve those goals. I’ve been blessed to work with talented and legendary people. The paper is a literal path to personal greatness. All I need to do is devote myself to walking down it; step by step.
Xion: How did you get involved in the Bayview and what do you do for them?:
Zaire: I’m a copy editor for the paper and a writer! How I got involved was as simple as opening up the actual paper and seeing they had an ad for writers from the community. The months prior to that I was lost, for lack of a better word. They have done just as much – if not more – for me than I have for them to be honest. But I really try to offer my support and assistance however I can or wherever it’s needed.
Xion: Do you have any secret/other talents besides writing? If so, what are they?
Zaire: As I’ve really looked inward at my life, I can safely say that my only talent would be writing. I can’t cook too well. I’m no musician, dancer or fashion designer. So for me I’m putting my proverbial eggs in one basket with the whole writer thing. My father was a rapper back in the day so I’m hoping his lyrical talents have been inherited by me. You know what: I can make a wonderful sweet potato pie. My own family’s recipe. Is that a talent?
Xion: Do you have plans for staying in the Bay Area? If not, where do you plan to relocate? And why?
Zaire: I’ve been here a few years already, two and some months. I believe the goal is to at least stay afloat here for another couple of years. It’s wonderful here, save for all the “liberal” racists walking the streets of San Francisco. But the world is huge. I’ve been learning that more and more. So maybe I’ll pack up my few belongings and venture out. I would love to see all the different Black folks of Latin America; see how they live and how white supremacist forces have shaped them down there; Africa too. To set foot, let alone live, on African soil certainly would be life changing.
Xion: How did you start writing? Has it always been a passion for you?
Zaire: I’ve always loved to read. So before the idea of writing ever came to me, I developed a love for reading. My loved ones have always supported that. I remember my father helping me go over my spelling quizzes in elementary school. And you know that feeling of getting them right always felt good. You want to chase those feelings; the stuff that makes you feel good and leaves you wondering and waiting for what comes next.
I’ve been told in the past that I should write a book, and whatnot, by a few teachers and friends in my life. I never really understood that or thought too deeply into it, but around the end of 2019 was when I actually began to try to write. That was when it finally flared up into a passion and need. I started mostly with haikus and then it all snowballed. I felt the urge to attempt to write more and more. And again, my loved ones are very supportive of that.
Xion: Do you have plans on staying a writer, if so which kind of writer do you want to be? Song writer, author, movie writer, etc?
Zaire: I can’t really picture myself doing anything else; even if it’s just scribbling poems on an index card for the rest of my life. Writing is something I don’t think I’ll ever part ways with. The act of doing it, as well as reading, has saved my life time and time again. To repay the debt, I plan on working at it until it’s time for me to transition to another realm. I’m prepared to struggle with the craft. The dream is to say I’m 75 years old, still writing with a fanbase who’s still seeking my work, you know.
As far as what that work may look like, I can say for certain I want to be an author of a few novels. As I’ve mentioned, where I’m from there are a lot of talented people who I’m happy to call peers, so after I’ve done the work, and if they are still doing it, then I would love to link up with them to be a songwriter or screenwriter. But that’s all getting ahead of myself, right now I’m just focusing on short stories and a novel I have brewing in my head.
Xion Abidoun is a staff writer for the SF Bay View who has written for that paper for three years.