“Y’all brought me back to romance.”
Not the first time i’ve heard that sentiment, by any means. And it wasn’t even the only time I heard it Saturday, in a room full of Black indie authors and our readers. I get it in emails and inbox messages, see it in comments on facebook. I heard it several times in Houston, usually accompanied by the type of warm hug only a Black woman who believes in and or loves you can give.
There’s a whole lot of pressure in those words, but at the same time… whew. A whole lot of much-needed strength.
As bad as I am at taking compliments for it, I am pretty dang confident in what I do. I believe myself to be good at telling a Black love story. But, believing in yourself is far from the same thing as being recognized and rewarded for the work you feel you put in. In this industry, “indie” is still a bit of a dirty word, especially if you’re Black, especially if you write about Black couples. You’ll hear “black romance is not a genre”, even though you experience the world a little different. When publications make “romance you should check out” or whatever lists, you and your peers don’t appear, even though you top the charts. When articles are written about revolutionizing the industry, and keeping it alive, your name, your friends names, won’t show up, even though y’all fill rooms full of readers who say “Y’all brought me back to romance.”
So that is where you find your strength.
That is where you get fortified, and boy did I.
I said it about Houston, I’m sure I’ll say it about New York, and I’m saying it about Indie Love Atlanta for the second time – a room full of Black women will give you all the energy you need, for anything. I was crazy busy for the length of the event, but every time I stood up to give a hug or take a picture, I looked around for my peers. I saw them selling books, and smiling, and hugging their readers, people who put a lot into being there, and it filled me up. One woman told me she’ll always support me because she always supports Black excellence, and BABY, IT FILLED ME UP.
When it came around to time for my panel discussion with Love Belvin, and I saw that room full of readers waiting to hear us speak – and I have it on good authority that the three panels before ours were filled to the brim as well – listen… overflow.
How could I ever feel anything less than grateful, when I have the energy, love, and support of amazing Black women behind me?