and yes, I know I’m late as hell. But, things get hectic sometimes. I’ve been busy with work and other projects. I also attended two amazing conferences. I shared before about getting a scholarship to go to the AWP Conference & Bookfair. The AWP is a literary event featuring well known and up and coming writers. As someone who deems herself a writer, it was nice being in a space with other nerdy folks. Hey, most writers tend to be quirky people, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The highlights of the conference: “Come Celebrate With Me” : Women of Color Writers and Literary Lineage, and Safe Writing Spaces: Building Community Through Literary Advocacy workshops. The Come Celebrate With Me… women of color authors offered great advice for new writers. In particular, to “be vulnerable, be honest, and take risks.” The Safe Writing Space…session featured Renee Watson. Watson is originally from my city, and has written a best selling young adult novel. She is also the founder of I, Too Arts Collective. The non-profit encourages people from marginalized communities to write/be creative.
Watson and other great writers, talked about the importance of not just creating a safe space, but a “brave space” for writers of color. The need to make sure participants feel seen/heard, providing community norms/agreements, and empowerment. I also attended the wonderful workshop “We Are Our Own Gods: Writing for Black Women’s Liberation.” The speakers consisted of writers from the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. I talk about their book in this video.
The members from the collective uplifted Black women writers. They stated that “vulnerability can be a path to liberation,” don’t be afraid of the early draft,” and “think about who is shaming us?” The last comment speaks to how mainstream society seeks to oppress Black women by making us feel bad about ourselves, while at the same time exploiting/commodifying our bodies/beauty/talents. The members also noted that Black women should be open to writing about a variety of things, exploring beyond the binary/whiteness. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the conversation.
I also had a decent time at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE). I say decent, because the vibe felt a little elitist (it is an $800 registration fee!), but I’m still glad I attended. NCORE is one of the biggest conferences in the country that focuses on racial equity in higher education. I’ve wanted to go to this conference for a while now, as my background is in adult education. So, it was exciting it was in my city for the first time. I went to a few interesting sessions, as well as got to see brilliant keynote speakers.
I liked all the workshops I picked for my schedule. In particular, the “Cultivating Resilience to Sustain Personal and Organizational Power” workshop. I mostly wanted to go to this session, because the amazing anti sexual violence activist, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, was one of the speakers. It was a thought-provoking discussion on self-care in racial equity work. It was noted, “resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress–such as systemic and institutional racism, gender violence and other oppression.” Participants were asked to rub our hands together until we generated enough heat. Then to place our palms on a spot on our body we felt needed the energy. And take a deep breath. A simple act of self-care. I encourage y’all to do that, whenever you need to get re-centered.
As you can see, I’ve been doing a lot of running around these past couple of months. I recommend checking out these two conferences if they ever come to your city. Both events provided either scholarships or volunteer opportunities if cost is a barrier (I volunteered at NCORE). These conferences can help with professional development, especially for Black women writers/educators.