Glory Edim doesn’t stop. When she’s not planning the next meeting of her fire-emoji book club, Well-Read Black Girl, she’s working on its website, its newsletter, its Instagram feed, its Twitter—or, just as likely, she’s planning her next high-profile collaboration with cultural institutions across New York. With public meetings and open for anyone to join, Well-Read Black Girl provides a vital space for black women readers and writers to connect and grow in conversation.
How did you become the literary advocate you are?
I like the sound of “literary advocate,” however, that wasn’t my original goal. I was simply reading (and sharing!) the books I loved online. One of my greatest joys is having the privilege to showcase the universality of Black women through literature. I’ve always been driven to be of service to others and Well-Read Black Girl provides me with that opportunity. As WRBG develops, I am expanding upon my creative mission, specifically addressing racial inequity in publishing and exploring how we can pay homage to the literary legacies of Black women. Ultimately, it’s important for me to build creative, safe spaces for Black women to engage with one another without the white gaze.
What are you working on now? What is at stake?
Currently, I’m looking at ways to encourage political activism within Well-Read Black Girl. Which books promote civic responsibility and movement building? Which authors inspire activism and address inequality? Books like Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider and the feminist anthology, This Bridge Called My Back, come to mind. This year the book club will begin hosting teach-ins to help members inform themselves and others about the background and facts concerning specific political issues, whether that’s mass incarceration, police brutality, or voter suppression. I’m eager to campaign for policy change on a local level and chronicle our progress. Collectively, we’re examining the faceted relationships between literature and citizenship. I want WRBG members to openly share their personal truths in regards to race, class, and gender inequities. I feel confident that a combination of hands-on work, creative analysis, and ongoing dialogue can make a difference in society. Books are just the beginning.
What is your proudest achievement? Your greatest challenge?
In 2016, I interviewed author Jacqueline Woodson about her latest book, Another Brooklyn, at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College. She’s one of my literary heroes–seriously, she’s a national treasure. I wish I had encountered she work when I was twelve-years old instead of in my twenties. Her writing completely changed how I read/fully experience a story.
My greatest challenge? So many ideas and not enough time! I need an assistant.
What do you hope changes or improves in your field?
I hope readers and publishers will continue to champion for diversity in the industry. We will always need diverse books. We also need people of color working in the industry in all areas, from editors to marketing. I also want to expand the conversations institutions are having around archiving and oral history. I was devastated when Gloria Naylor passed away this last year. How can better preserve manuscripts and uplift her incredible legacy? I’d like to play a role in historicizing the contributions of Black writers across the diaspora. I intend to continue serving as an advocate for Black writers and develop a clearer path for future generations to discover their work.
What does Brooklyn mean to you?
Brooklyn is the world. It is filled with endless possibilities. You can arrive in the borough and immediately build a colorful life for yourself. Brooklyn compels you to step boldly into the unknown. It wants you to take big risks and reap the rewards. I’ve never felt so fearless anywhere else. My favorite quote from Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming sums it up:
When there are many worlds
you can choose the one
you walk into each day.
Who would you nominate for this list?
The co-editor of ARTS.BLACK, Jessica Lynne.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.