Devon Jones/ Edge Colomnist
Deep Dive / Montreal’s Book Club for People of Color / Feature Story
Recently the Montreal library has opened a book club called “Black girls gather”, where African American females can come to share their stories feelings and most importantly explore their culture.
This book club according to the hosts Mariame Touré, and Fabiola Ngamaleu Teumeni , was meant to be something that they did not have when they were younger.
The book club is about building self-esteem, learning to love themselves more and developing an attachment to Black culture. Said the hosts of the club.
The club is said to have made people feel comfortable and is said to be a great place to go to socialize. The book club is not too popular now, split into two groups of about 10 girls, one for ages 12-14 and another for those 15-18. The group like to read books every month that are around culture and beliefs. The clubs prefer books that “center us” Said Teumeni.
The girls met when Touré was tutoring Teumeni at a predominantly white high school in Montreal. During that time, they both did not feel like the schools were representing them.
“We often see spaces like these created for Black boys, but Black women and Black girls are often forgotten. And it hurts,” said Teumeni.
“Like many visible minority students in these types of institutions, we didn’t feel represented within our cohort or within the literature that we studied,” said Touré. The girls in the club have been talking about the books “To Kill a Mockingbird, and Monday’s Not Coming for their views on unequal treatment of people by the justice system. The club’s readings go farther out than what they read but more of they explain the book and their own lives. The books bring them all to the club, but what makes it special are the discussions that occur afterwards.
In the month of May 2020, one of the topics for their chats was about black hair, and how to take care of it. Their discussions are not always based on the books but are also a way to take care of each other. The discussions can be very important though, the book club offers a safe place for the girls to talk about things that they normally would not talk about with anybody.
Starting in the fall, a debate about the N-word in academic studies was being talked about. There had been many complaints about teachers using the N-word during lessons. Some students have said that it makes them uncomfortable and were debating whether its okay for teachers to even say it during lessons.
Being represented in public has a good effect on people as it shows that different groups know who they are and that they acknoledge them.
This book club has been a great place for black women to come to, people need to talk, to escape loneliness during COVID-19. Talking with others who share the same background, who share the same culture can be very calming and a release. Overall, a book club can be the socializing people need, its even better when talking to people of the same ethnicity. Being represented can be impactful even if it is just a small club.