A Well Read Black Girl & Then Some

 Me, Photo courtsey of Well Read Black Girl.

Me, Photo courtsey of Well Read Black Girl.

You have to make the decision to tell this story. Because if you don't write, the story dies with you." - @natashiadeon

You don't have to write everyday  to be a writer [writing a story/project] but you have to write everyday. Saturday, September 9, I attended the inaugural Well Read Black Girl Conference & Festival in Brooklyn, New York.  Walking into the BIRC there was an initial rush of intimidation yet as I saunter farther into the venue an overwhelming calmness and joy overcame me.  Everywhere I looked I saw resemblances of myself; beautiful intelligent black women, who are enamored by reading the stories of others and writing their own.  “I don’t know that we ever had all of us in the same room. I hope everyone is taking pictures. Take your pictures! Tag me! Tag yourselves! Tag your friends who can’t be here, because they are here.”  Tayari Jones, pleaded with excitement. Reiterating the importance of representation and community among black women. 

 Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

 Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

"Don't reject yourself in advance" - @LashondaKatrice 

I stumble upon Well Read Black Girl Instagram page a few months ago, and when I saw the Kickstarter for the inaugural festival/ conference, I promised myself I would support and be present. The event consisted of a series of sessions each a panel focusing on different topics. 

The knowledge I gained from the panelist met way beyond my expectations. Given I did not really know what to expect but I was throughly impressed and elated to be there. I attended the self care session titled "Writing Rituals As Self-Care: How to Maximize Your Creative Practice."
Moderated by Jenna Wortham and Panelists included Lesley Arimah, Morgan Jerkins, Basey Ikpi, Jenn Baker, and Ashley C. Ford. Self-care and self love has become a theme  for me this year so I was tuned in during this session. The session began with a questioning the panelist their thoughts on self-care. "It’s an act of survival to keep going, When people say self-care, I say, this is self-preservation.” said Jenn Baker. Then, Basey Ikpi expressed her motto "self-care above all else.”  this stuck with me, because their perspective truly exemplify the essence of self-care. 

The panelist even touched on increased outreach for black voices during this current social and political climate. Morgan Jerkins shared her experience wanting to share the stories of black joy. Yet, conflicted when she began writing for money, and the expectation of her work is to perform the role of an angry black.  As I learned throughout the event now is the time for black women writers and authors to push their work out and take advantaged of this window of opportunity. If they want our voices, they will get and we will on the other side to ensure it's heard properly. 

"There is no better time than now for black women writers." -@tayari  

 Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

Photo courtesy of Well Read Black Girl.

The closing session "Reclaiming the Past, Empowering the Present: Writing as Political Resistance." Moderated Jamia Wilson and Panelists Jaqueline Woodson, Tiphanie Yanique, Bernice McFadden, Natashia Deón and LaShonda Barnett truly gave me life.  Especially Ms. LaShonda Barnett, with a voice as smooth valet I clung to every word she uttered, and Tiphanie Yanique, full of fire and spice representing for the Virgin Islands. I learned now is the time to think creatively, give yourself permission to go beyond your comfort zone and to not limit yourself by your own perspective.  I left WRBGFest with long reading list and more confidence in calling myself a writer. 

 Glory Edim, Photo courtsey of Well Read Black Girl

Glory Edim, Photo courtsey of Well Read Black Girl

A huge kudos and congratulation belongs to Glory Edim creator of WRBG.  I met her briefly thanks to my best-friend Robyn, who literally knows everyone. I expressed to her  that I flew from Florida just for this festival and she embraced me with a great big hug, and I couldn't help but feel even more welcomed and thanked her for creating this space. I already can't wait next year. 

"The whole point of being is writer is you get to play God" - @LashondaKatrice