“I don’t think you understand what you did here today. You brought together Black women who are doing shit. We need this to happen more often for us.” – Tassika Lloyd of Kisses for Cancer
And to be honest, I didn’t fully grasp what it was I put together in a span of six weeks that came to its conclusion Saturday afternoon around 5p.m. The plan was to celebrate my fifth blogaversary by getting some of my favorite writers together in one room, meet the faces behind the @’s and chop it up over mimosas and bellinis. I didn’t know what I was going to say really. I had a series of table questions prepared, a speech to give at the end and a brief breakdown of the meanings behind the goodies placed in the gift bags.
“A picture frame for the moment you can’t get back but managed to capture on film.
A candle which served as a reminder to keep the passion burning as a writer.
A beauty bar from Jheanell Adams of Jolie Bloom LLC from Florida which served as a reminder to continue to support one another regardless of distance.
A personalized tea bag for giggles, something we need every now & then.
A handwritten thank you card, each one with a different note on the inside to express the sentiments I couldn’t say out loud.”
None of that happened.
No, what happened was, I left the venue with $5.94 left to my name. What happened was, I certain I was going to pass out from exhaustion. The past five days leading up to the event was full of phone calls back and forth with the Director of Events for PS 450 with time and table count changes, the usual emails life serves me, a sick child, a doctor’s appointment with another child, work, phone calls with my lawyer, chasing down UPS trucks for packages for three consecutive days (literally, chasing), and spending time with my sixteen-year old sister who I haven’t seen in two years.
But while my wallet was damn near empty, my soul was fulfilled. My body was fighting sleep but what kept me up was the joy in knowing I had helped one guest in attendance with her fear of meeting new people and suppressing her social anxiety. I had reconnected two women that needed to talk outside of cyber space and in the real world, like in the good ol’ days, pre-social media. I had helped a new blogger meet women that could assist her in the direction she wanted to go with her platform. I couldn’t have put all of this together and made that happen. Me?
When Candice, founder of Brown Girl Bloggers, posted my feature on her site in June something incredible happened. I was asked, if I had to chose, which writer would I consider a mentor. I named someone, Candice actually mentioned her on Twitter, and she reached out to me. We communicated for weeks through email and well, she ended up at my first event.
She told me things that’ll stay with me for as long as I live. “Be proud of yourself. Black women don’t do that enough. The authenticity and freeness of being yourself as a Black girl is not easy. The fact that you do it so seemingly effortlessly is revolutionary.”
I remembered all five points I made in my own blogaversary post – it was why I was here, it was how What Binds Us Together the Event came about. I wasn’t in this alone, I had other Black women that supported me and I needed to be proud of myself. This event was to celebrate my fifth year as a blogger but I saw it was bigger than me. What Binds Us Together was about all of us as Black Girls Who Blog/Brown Girl Bloggers/Bad Ass Blogger Baés/whatever you want to call us.
Fourteen writers and one photographer came together and dined at a table like longtime girlfriends, a mixture of the Golden Girls, Living Single and Girlfriends. We discussed our blogs and the things that’ll never see the light of day on a public platform, future projects and what we wanted for ourselves in the next five years. We were a mixed group of women in our twenties and thirties from all along the east coast, bound to one another by our successes and struggles as women – Black women. We wanted different things but nonetheless, we wanted to share our stories – through our writing, our art, our photography. We came in as women who knew one another on Twitter or never heard of the woman seated across from or next to us, but we left girlfriends who vowed to support one another’s endeavors.
We. don’t. do. that. enough.
We become role models to inspiring bloggers who send us emails asking us questions about the basics of blogging, expressing their fear of being burned out after the first year when the views are low and the number of subscribers barely scratch the surface of what we consider “getting somewhere.” People actually look up to us. Women are taken aback when meeting us. That shit is crazy …but it’s dope.
Being in the presence of the woman whose work I’ve admired and followed for years, who vibed amongst “the regular folks” and wasn’t too big to share with us her humble beginnings and the ins and outs of the writing industry was crazy …but the Universe said it was time.
Having two writers I adore travel from Maryland and Virginia to attend the event was crazy …but that’s support.
Sharing a space with the women who have been proud of me and the growth of this blog, even when I’m not so happy with myself and this space I’ve created was crazy …but beautiful. So incredibly beautiful.
We brunched. We chilled on a rooftop bar. We were given gems. We were reminded that the greatest gem we hold are our gifts. We cried. We laughed. We took a shitload of photos. We have memories that are engrained in us for a lifetime. We made silent vows to keep on keepin’ on. We talked about knowing our worth as women and writers. We gave one other that girl, I got yo’ back from here on out look.
What Binds Us Together – it was more than just blogs and bottomless brunch. It was – it is – support and our stories.
And that’s what’s next; What Binds Us Together: Our Stories premiering next month.
1. “Bloggers Who Twerk: What Binds Us Together.” Juvenile’s Back Dat Azz Up, relevant in the ’99 & 2014.
2. Having 15 women sing No Scrubs at the top of their lungs.
3. Having your role model tell you she does read your blog.
4. Shots of Patron at the bar to celebrate five years of blogging.
5. Hearing Tassika speak about the formation of Kisses for Cancer and this year’s event on 08.16.2014 & having half the table in tears.
6. Listening to Bené break down the importance in finding your voice & knowing the difference in “selling out” to get published.
Huge thank you to the sponsors, Ericka of Empress Designs & Jheanell of Jolie Bloom LLC & the attendees, Ashley of QuarterLifeRealness.com, Ky Renee of KyReneeWrites.blogspot.com, Minnie of LifeOneHundred.wordpress.com, Natalege of HeartsConverse.com, Nneka of AfrosYPaellas.com, Noëlle of TwentySomethingNCounting.wordpress.com, Sharisse, Stacy of StacyAnnEllis.com, Stephanie, Tamika of TameeksB.blogspot.com,Tassika Lloyd, Creator of Kisses for Cancer, Tyece of TwentiesUnscripted.com, Yetti of YettiSays.com and of course…
Bené Viera of BeneViera.com