Glory Edim, 35, is a well-read Black girl and her Well-Read Black Girl community is growing each day. The New York resident started Well-Read Black Girl as an online community in 2015. The name was inspired by a custom t-shirt her boyfriend had gifted that had the term emblazoned on the front. Edit began posting on various social media platforms as the Well-Read Black Girl and eventually that turned into an in-person book club that she led each month at various Brooklyn locations along with the authors of the book of the month.
At the time, Edim was working at Kickstarter as a publishing lead. She taught people best practices for using KickStarter. This was a skillset that came in handy when she raised $39,000 for the first Well-Read Festival last fall.
Now the Well-Read Black Girl has added yet another layer to the movement with the publication of the Well-Read Black Girl Anthology featuring a bevy of talented writers such as Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, Jacqueline Woodson, and others. The book was published in print and online on October 30th of this year by Penguin Random House.
Edim, a Howard alum, is currently in the thick of putting on the second annual Well-Read Black Girl Festival. She found time to talk to theGrio about the evolution of Well-Read Black Girl and what the future holds.
Quitting the Full-Time Job
“I saved significantly before I quit my job. I did the due diligence. I down-sized, I have a very understanding partner, and I even moved back home for a little bit. I have the support. For people considering leaving their jobs to focus on their entrepreneurial goals, I would say know your needs and have reasonable expectations. My finances were something I considered for a long time. I saved money. I knew my month to month expenses and I had mentors who offered good advice. So many people told me to do a residency to finish up the book edits. Those can be expensive, but what ended up happening was I dog and house sat for a friend in New Orleans for four weeks. I wrote and made a routine for myself. That’s how I did the last edits. I needed to be away from New York City. This is my artistic practice. Money is an important part of adulthood of course, but my creative life has enriched me much more than a check could ever do.”
Soaking in the Impact of Well Read Black Girl
“Last week was my official book launch at the Brooklyn Museum. I had prepared remarks, but as soon as I hugged the host, my heart began beating so fast. It hit me that it’s real and it’s so much bigger than me. When I really think about it, it scares me. But that night, the fear kind of melted away into happiness. I’m just happy that it exists. It has been received so kindly. I had been sad and doubtful, but this is real. There are so many changes that will happen in your life and you need to embrace all of that and all the feelings that go with it.”
How a Challenge Created a New Path
“The images I put on Instagram for the Well Read Black Girl are reflections of what I journal. When I thought about creating a physical book, I thought it would be a book of images and serve as a photographic tribute to black women with rich pictures and quotes. Vintage Black Glamour was definitely an inspiration. But as I was doing the research, I discovered that the rights for a lot of these photos can be difficult to get in terms of cost and high resolution. I hit challenges, so I thought about a book of essays. After talking to my parter, the women in the book club, it seemed fitting. Year two I started thinking about maybe a book, but it wasn’t until after last year’s festival, that it really started to come together. Getting a book deal made a significant impact.”
Growing the Well-Read Black Girl Festival
“I’m going to continue to grow the festival as an annual event Black women can come to and commune. I want to pull in theater, visual arts, film and have us at the center of the conversation. I had this idea, but I don’t have the infrastructure that I want just yet. I’m looking to build a team. I have volunteers and an advisory committee, but if I could secure a grant and hire people full-time, that would be ideal. I’ve been studying cultural institutions and other organizations. I have definitely been taking notes on the the Laundromat Project, for example. They bring art and the artists directly into the communities they serve. I want to work with more young people. Marley Dias is so brilliant. This little girl is 13 and I’m in my 30s still growing in that space.”
The Definition of a Well-Read Black Girl
“I think so much about the origin stories of the our lives. What do you see that teaches you what it means to grow into a woman? The term Well-Read Black Girl is open to interpretation. It’s about the power of Black female identity in the world. It’s an homage to the Black women before us: Toni, Alice, Maya, Mary Helen Washington. So many voices who have paved the way to Black womanhood. A Well-Read Black Girl reads across genres with heart and intent to grow. There is so much compassion in our community. When you are well read you are open to the world. It’s a multitude of voices. As this community stretches and grows, the stories of Black women will always be centered and focused. Our happiness is not a frivolous and it is just as important as our consternation.”