There’s a well-known myth about King Midas and his “golden touch”. But there’s also another King Midas myth. Something happens in that myth that pretty much sums up my need to write The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin. It’s a myth in which Midas judges a music competition between Apollo and Pan.
In this Mount Olympus Has Got Talent contest, Pan plays a down home panpipe ditty. Apollo plays a lovely, highbrow lyre melody. Midas is definitely more into the earthy panpipe, so he declares Pan the winner. Apollo is not having it. He’s like, “Midas, you have the ears of an ass. Matter of fact, now that I think about it, bing bam boom, you really do have the ears of an ass!” To Midas’s dismay, donkey ears sprout up on his head. He wraps his head up in a turban and tells his barber “I will cut you if you tell anybody about these ears.” The barber is like, “Oh my god, those ears – I’ve got to tell somebody, but I can’t – but I have to.”
So he goes out late in the middle of the night to a field and digs a hole in the soil and whispers over and over again, “King Midas has ass’s ears!” He also throws in the occasional "King Midas is a total dick for threatening me!” along with a few “King Midas is an idiot for thinking he could judge a competition between two gods without suffering serious consequences!" When he gets all that out of his system, the barber feels a helluva lot better. (Also, somewhere in a field in Greece, when the reeds rustle in the wind, you can hear the words “King Midas has ass’s ears.” If you speak ancient Greek, that is.)
I know you’re wondering what the hell does this have to do with Bubbly? Well see, all the things I write about in The Bubbly Black Girl are my “King Midas ass’s ears” truths. Truths about race, class, gender in America that I was afraid to tell, for fear they would destroy me. Truths I could no longer hold inside because not to tell them was destroying me. Truths about, among other things, church assassinations of black people, racial profiling, de facto segregation, sexism and internalized racism. It’s disheartening to know that 17 years after Bubbly was first produced, those problems still exist. But now, as it was back then (as it has always been for black people in the diaspora), allowing anger to consume you is self-defeating and unproductive. Which is why I chose to write a story of hope and humor about the ridiculousness of racism and intolerance. I mean after all, when you deal with ass’s ears, why not tweak them a bit?