By: Rachel Werner
Even tennis superstar Serena Williams shared in an interview this week she is struggling with anxiety due to the rampant spread of COVID-19.
Indeed, it’s even more crucial right now for us all to prioritize carving out ‘me time.’ One way to refuel one’s satchel of ‘black girl magic’ is by focusing on professional development to stave off feeling as if your career has gone on hiatus due to the pandemic. Learning and marketing strategist Janelle Allen’s podcast “Level Up Your Course” is filled with insightful tips on how to use digital marketing to attract more customers and increase audience engagement, specifically for those planning to launch—or are already offering—courses online.
Aside from the sage advice the host and her guests drop on each episode, Allen also has one resource she thinks savvy leaders should have on hand. “I’ve read countless business books and, sadly, there’s a lot of recycled advice. But there’s one book that changed everything for me, Profit First,” she states. “The author outlines a framework to help you build not only a profitable business, but also one that is an asset instead of a liability. It completely changed how I approached my business finances. It should be required reading for ALL business owners.” Allen’s encouragement is well suited for those looking to move forward with their next endeavor, even in these times of uncertainty.
For those needing more of a pick-me-up on a personal level, Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery proprietress DL Mullen suggests two books for women of color looking for guidance on improving their physical, mental and/or emotional health:
All About Love by Bell Hooks - “This book forces us to read, relate, and ultimately level-up in terms of how we choose to love ourselves, and inevitably others.”
Heart Talk by Cleo Wade - “Reading this book leaves me feeling renewed, revived and ready for whatever comes next.”
The desire to provide such recommendations, plus an elevated artistic experience to the local community, is what lead Mullen to open her bookstore and gallery in Chicago. “My intense love for books and how the stories effect our human psyche was the catalyst for opening my store,” she shares. “I wanted everyone to nurture that connection in a space that I created, and that was the inspiration.”
Cafe Con Libros owner Kalima DeSuze had similar reasons for thinking a literary-focused, Brooklyn-based venture could be the positive gateway for women and families she knew were seeking. "I tell folks all the time, Black Feminism changed my life. All the books I read, gave me a mirror, affirmed my existence—and as an outspoken child—said it was ok to both love and stand up for myself,” she explains. “Black Feminism is the reason why I believe I had the right and the capacity to own a bookstore; Black Feminism endorsed my sense of worth. I wanted to create a space for all folks to have the same experience. I think it's important to present as many examples of what is possible. I hope that I'm expanding possibilities for all through the books that I handpick each week."
Like DeSuze and Mullen, I too am an avid reader. Whereas I am always willing to dive into just about any #OwnVoices work, nonfiction (whether it be a collection of essays, a cookbook, or a sociological commentary) is likely my favorite genre. I’ve added to my bookshelf in recent years several memoirs written by successful Black mavens in the entertainment industry. Thus, when you are in need of a road map on surviving disappointments and trauma—and still coming out on top—soak up a healthy dose of wisdom from these famous females:
The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - Rhimes may have created and produced “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” but the level of honesty and humility, which seeps off each page, will remind you more of your Aunt Marge than a TV mogul.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish - Be prepared to laugh harder than you ever thought possible while reading a book as Haddish retells the highs and lows of past romantic dalliances; her first taste of fame; and a Groupon outing with “The Smiths” (as in Will and Jada).
We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union - No matter how much of an icon one becomes, one still has baggage, in addition to fears related to an unknown future. Union’s candor about race, sexual assault, infertility and Hollywood is refreshing and poignant—often in equal measure.
The moral of the irl moments these powerhouses reveal is if you have big goals, don’t settle. Simply ‘Read. Restore. Repeat.’ your way to believing the best is still yet to come.
What books are you currently reading to restore and boost your mood? Tell us in the comments below.