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Her literary agent Helen Brann confirmed the news to press, and thus began a worldwide outpouring of grief.

The top trending tag on Twitter was “RIP Maya Angelou” and, at the time of this writing, it is one of four Maya Angelou-related trending hashtags.

She is hailed as a national best selling author, a genius, a spiritual God-, Grand-, and mother.

She is lauded as everything Black women should aspire to emulate in life.

So why is it very few of us know she was a sex worker in her youth?

Why is it, even in her death, as in her life, it’s such a guarded secret?

Why was this secret kept by seemingly everyone except Dr. We can, once again, boil it down to respectability politics and stigma. I find myself ruminating, considering, wondering: If her work had been talked about as much as her dancing with James Baldwin or even her considerable, commanding, and lovely height of six feet, what would the sex work community look like today? In fact, I have no closet.” They lie like that and then young people find themselves in situations and they think, “Damn I must be a pretty bad guy.

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The media uses inflammatory terms to get clicks and to emphasize the terrible and shameful secret that was, in actuality, never a secret at all. She had no issue whatsoever with speaking her truth.

So why do we not know about it, save for hushed whispers and the occasional salacious reference in reports about and interviews of her?

What’s so wrong with our beloved and lovely Maya Angelou having been a sex worker and brothel manager?

Respectability politics no doubt play a role in the erasure of her history as a sex worker.

With a wide brush, details on it have been painted over by those who won’t acknowledge such a thing, brushing past it to talk about her awards and accolades.

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