The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, and we were no different. However, we chose, like many, to host a virtual book reading via Zoom! The turnout was around 25, and the conversation was stimulating.
We were fortunate enough to host another book reading for Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships. Each time we do one of these, I'm in awe at how many women have been living with dysfunctional father-daughter relationships and living with unresolved trauma. It's astounding. I'm happy that this book can help so many.
This time, co-author, Tikeetha Thomas planned our reading at The Potter's House.
Our second book reading for Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships was intentionally held the Saturday before Father's Day. One of the co-authors, Bree, coordinated the event to be held at For Keeps, a Black-owned bookstore. We read. We discussed. We empathized. Below is a clip of Bree reading her powerful story, "Abandoned at Breakfast."
In the States, Women’s History Month is a time “commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history” (Women’s History Month). Isn’t that great?
While I believe people like Harriet Tubman and Helen Keller were influential to society as a whole, I used this month as a time to not only reflect on the important role that friends and family have played in my life, but also to pay it forward by encouraging and uplifting women with whom I’m associated.
Therefore, I decided to begin this year’s Women’s History Month by having a book reading. On Saturday, March 2, 2019, four of the authors from my most recent edited collection, Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships and I gathered together to share our stories.
It was a perfect writer’s scenario. It was a dark and stormy afternoon. Seriously, it rained the entire day. The independent bookstore was cozy. Stacks of used and new books served as a backdrop. Right next to us, sat a group of five doing black out poetry. They circled and highlighted words, while also half-listening to our talk. Afterwards, the group’s leader expressed her adoration for the women and the event, highlighting the importance of healing through story.
The support was palpable. This is no exaggeration. The space held supportive energy and the reason was because each author had invited guests who had their genuine interests at heart. Mothers, cousins, brothers, best friends, longtime high-school friends, and book club members were a part of the audience.
Most importantly, they listened in an attempt to understand each woman’s point of view about her former dysfunctional relationship with her father. During the question and answer portion, a woman from a book club I frequent began by saying she was trying to relate because “she’s a daddy’s girl.” I’d heard her sentiments from other women with similar experiences. They had no idea that some men had little regard for their daughters. It was a foreign concept. But I was happy to know that she and others were attempting empathy.To me, that’s what creative nonfiction is all about. We should attempt to understand life through another’s eyes. Reading another person’s story is one way to develop the type of empathy I’m suggesting. Think about it. It’s easy to remain in a bubble of understanding that privileges your perspective. But it takes a different level of relating to listen to someone’s story and try to place yourself in that position to feel what they may have felt.
And so I’m pleased.
I recently read someone’s thoughts on “empowering women.” I don’t remember whom, but she suggested that she does not empower women, but rather she creates the conditions for women to be empowered, and from that, they are able to liberate themselves.
That’s how I view this book and this weekend’s past reading. I’ve merely served as a vehicle and set up the conditions. These (and the other nine authors) have done the work to free themselves. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
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On May 9, 2018, I was able to represent the anthology, All the Women in My Family Sing as a contributing author. In this Daytime Tampa interview, I describe my piece and encourage everyone to purchase the book. It's available via Amazon and the All the Women in My Family Sing website.
Check out the interview.