The most direct way to support Black women writers is to buy yourself a book. But here are seven other ways you can elevate Black authors, poets, and artists, which you may not have considered.
1. Word of mouth
As analog as this sounds, it really does work on so many levels. This was how things went “viral” before social media. I remember when Waiting To Exhale by Terry McMillan came out in 1992. Not only were Black women talking this book up — in church, in sorority meetings, at work — but that iconic cover by Black Artist Synthia Saint James was everywhere, raising her profile as well. If you love an author, talk them up to friends and fam. And if you really love them…
2. Gift their books
I say this time and time again, but a book is a good gift, dammit! Especially at baby showers and children’s birthday parties. I find that children often receive clothing, electronics, and toys, but very few books. Giving books by Black women authors to the “littles” in your life reinforces the beauty of books and starts libraries for the youngsters. Of course, books are an inspired gift for adults, too. Consider a biography, the poetry of Aja Monet, The Slutty Vegan’s cookbook, or how about a coffee table book, illustrated by a bad ass Black woman, all about iconic women?
3. Engage with the author on social media and in person
Authors are artists, and “artists are sensitive about their ish!,” as Erykah Badu once said. Tell your favorite author that you love their work. Or start a conversation with them about whatever else they’re into on social media. (Check out one of my favorites, Tanisha C. Ford, on Twitter.) If they have a new book out, social media is a great place to find out where they’re going to be promoting their new work. Find your faves and stan them! Get a signed copy! Authors deserve love, too!
4. Check out their books from the library
If you’re like everyone else, cutting costs in this inflation-ridden economy, check out your faves at the library. The library is one of my favorite places. Comb through the new books section to find fiction and nonfiction titles by Black women authors. Let libraries know there’s an audience for their work! If you can’t make it to the library, most now have e-book options, too.
5. Add their books to a curriculum or syllabus
Now, you have to have a specific job for this one, but if you work in a school system of any kind, as an educator or administrator, you can add books by Black women authors to your curriculum or your syllabus, if teaching at the post-secondary level. In fact, you don’t have to work in education to let your voice be heard. Parents and community members can reach out to your school boards/teachers/school libraries to request books by Black women authors be added to the stacks, curriculum, or syllabus.There are Black women authors in every field imaginable!
6. Give on Patreon
Hey, who doesn’t like cash or a little gift every now and again? If your fave Black woman author has a Patreon account, and you like their content (because you already bought their book), send em a lil’ somen somen. Most creators, including writers, don’t charge a lot for exclusive content, and Patreon’s claim of helping “creators and artists earn a monthly income” ain’t bad either. This way, you will, in fact, be a modern-day patron of the arts (hence the name).Get into it because a lotta littles adds up.
7. Seek them out on Substack
I mean, we know your fave, fave: Substack. You’re reading it right now! One place you can find new Black women writers — or old ones or queer ones or all the ones — is the Free Black Women’s Library, a social art project that centers the art, writing and lives of Black women. The indomitable Zeba Blay’sCarefree Black Girl is another SS for pop culture musings.