So, this past weekend I had an opportunity to attend Girl, Have You Met in Memphis, TN (Blackhaven, Orange Mound!) and it was beyond awesome.
There has been a lot of discussion lately about racism within the mainstream romance industry, which honestly, is nothing new, but has recently emerged as a hot button topic.
For me, I think events like Girl, Have You Met continue to demonstrate that mainstream inclusion isn't necessary for black authors to thrive. Why try to shove your way into spaces where you're not wanted, and more importantly, where you are not valued? I'm personally over trying to prove my humanity to folks who are not interested in acknowledging it. It's tiring and often times, futile.
And, to keep it a buck, if you have a romance community or organization and you've actively ignored black women/black stories, or made black women feel shunned from those spaces, you probably lack culture currency or relevancy anyway. Why? Because Black women are the culture. And I don't believe that I'm overstating here, or speaking from a defensive position. It's just the truth. If we are absent, so is your cultural relevancy and currency, especially heading into 2020. You need us. And in our absence, you come across as out of touch and, well... kinda corny.
At any rate, I went off on a tangent but it always is so refreshing and affirming to be in spaces where black women, black men and black love are represented, embraced and valued. That's what happened this weekend. Here are a few more reasons why Girl, Have You Met was dope:
1. The panel discussion was fantastic. Some jewels were dropped about the importance of displaying black love in all of its many forms, the importance of the space black romance/women's fiction writers occupy and why women tend to be so hard on their heroines (the consensus was... please stop). It was lovely. #blackromancematters
2. Readers! I've said it before and I'll say it again: reading readers who read are awesome. Y'all show so much love. Even when certain people ran out of books (ahem), y'all still signed up to have them mailed to you, stopped by to chat and show love. (And if you ordered from me, your books are being mailed out ASAP, promise!)
3. Authors! Even though I usually don't get to interact a lot at these events, it's always so cool to meet and mingle with people you respect. It's all love.
3. Christina C. Jones + Alexandra Warren are dope. It's their vision that made the event (which was lovely and beautifully decorated) happen in the first place. The importance of what they're doing with Girl Have You Read (their site and podcast which focuses on black romance) and their annual event, Girl, Have You Met which will head into its fourth year in 2020, isn't lost on any of us in this community. Y'all are appreciated beyond measure for the love you show and the passion that you demonstrate. You both rock.
Shout out to Carolyn M. Jackson and Marshall Thompson for the pics!