Last month I was invited to a Toronto Book Blogger meetup, and although my weekend was swamped, I was determined to go.
Why? Well, because when book lovers gather magical things happen!
I had to bring my daughter which wasn’t a big deal because for the most part she’s pretty well behaved and she also loves talking about books.
But upon arriving I quickly noticed that I was the only woman of colour in the group.
Not a big deal because this is something that I’ve actually grown quite accustomed to, but still…it made me think like it always does when I’m in a similar situation.
Over the last decade of working in corporate communications, I’ve often been the ONLY ONE in rooms, meetings and even entire conferences with 100s of attendees.
Part of what prompted ‘This Black Girl Reads’ came from an experience I had while in Banff, Alberta last year at a conference.
If you’ve ever been to Banff it is GORGEOUS, the mountains, the air, the wildlife. That time was my third or fourth trip there and I was quite accustomed at that time with the fact that there weren’t many minorities in that part of Canada.
When I’m there I normally get up really early so that I can get in some of the many activities they offer. I’ve been horseback riding in the mountains, I’ve done yoga at sunrise and on this morning I was preparing to do a 6 am hiking trip with a group of strangers. Please don’t ask me what on earth I was thinking, I still feel the burn.
As I often do on solo trips I was reading at breakfast, I wish I could remember what book it was but it has totally slipped my mind.
Then this older white man made a comment to me out of nowhere… ‘oh wow I didn’t know black girls read!’ YES, I couldn’t make this up, he actually said that. I know right!
As I challenged him responding, ‘Excuse Me’ in my most stern mommy voice, he backed down ans scurried away. But the incident left me appalled and annoyed.
That small interaction along with once again being the only one in a group, at this meetup, had me questioning ‘why was I the only one?’
Don’t get me wrong the women at the Bookstagram meetup were absolutely lovely, I enjoyed chatting with them about books and I even received a few very helpful tips and recommendations. Thanks ladies!
More than anything though I left feeling thankful because it renewed my sense of clarity of why my mission for THIS BLACK GIRL READS is so important.
As Black girls, we’ve been told our stories, voices, and experiences don’t matter. Whether by accident or on purpose we are often just left out of the conversation, overlooked and sometimes even ridiculed.
But as a Black girl with a voice, I’m committed to the never-ending discovery of these stories. And reading them is just as important as discussing them and sharing them with my fellow black girls but also with everyone else too.
Because what I’ve learned over and over and over again is that Representation Matters, Our stories matter and this black girl’s presence matters. And sometimes you have to be in the room to know how much you matter.