August’s customary heat and humidity persists in blanketing the Philadelphia area. The oppressive temperatures make staying at home to avoid Covid-19’s aerosols quite doable. Two events that will make this particular August memorable for me are the Angela Davis lecture I attended (virtually) and the pride I felt upon Joe Biden’s selecting Kamala Harris as his running mate. I am totally energized by the latter and inspired by the former.

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When I wrote last month’s blog I promised to return to those bridges I set afire with my June 25th essay. Although the embers continue to smolder and the bridges’ molten steel supports settle into new shapes, I’ve seen evidence of the desire to douse the flames. It’s possible some of the efforts recently brought to my attention were underway before I struck the matches. What’s meaningful to me are the results of the smoke and flames.  What counts in my book (no pun intended) is a wider awareness of a situation that can be improved via the actions of writers, readers, and publishers who believe in fairness and strive for equality of representation.

Here are a few items called to my attention during the past two months.

  • has established a new resource, the Lesfic Authors of Color Directory. They’ve requested additions to their list. Here’s the link!
  • Boldstrokes Books’ has announced a new initiative, an effort to attract writers of color. The publisher has issued a call for submissions replete with instructions regarding where/to whom WOC should send their material.
  • Dirt Road Books’ latest newsletter features an interview with author KD Williamson. In addition, their website’s “Writers Read” booklist includes links to sources of diverse authors and stories.
  • The Golden Crown Literary Society continues to reach out to the entire community of writers and readers in an effort to promote inclusion in their membership as well as their Board of Directors. Having once served on their Board of Directors, I can attest to the sincerity and determination of their efforts and their disappointment upon failing to achieve their goals. Did they suffer a lack of engagement with writers/readers of color because for a long while their website, the most overt display of their identity, lacked photographic evidence of diversity? You betcha’. Does the organization continue to expand their outreach efforts by asking for advice (via their surveys) and seeking direction from their members of color? Yes. Persistence is a good thing.
  • Last, but perhaps most important, was Clifford Mae Henderson’s blog of July 15th, “It’s All Black and White.” Clifford’s words answered the call for conversations about racism in the United States. Conversations that, according to Dr. Angela Davis, should have begun with the abolition of slavery. The conversations are very late in coming, but they must occur. In her blog, Clifford responded to each “We need to talk about this” request that I made in my burning bridges essay. I value Clifford’s perspective and I respect her contribution to what should be a series of chats about our nation’s longest enduring wounds and scars.


Now dear readers, I’m off to order a copy of  “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent,”  Isabel Wilkerson’s newest book. I think it will be a fascinating read.


One more thing…Please excuse my maternal/teacher noises as I ask you to stay well, wear your masks, maintain social distancing practices, and be mindful to wash your hands frequently. Be sure you’re registered to vote. Apply NOW for your vote-by-mail ballot or asap when they’re available, complete and hand carry it to your municipality’s Board of Elections office.

© Renée Bess, 2020


Renée Bess is the author of five novels (published by Regal Crest Enterprises,) the co-story curator of the Goldie Award winning anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS: LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS (Flashpoint Publications.) She is one of the winners of the 2019 Alice B. Readers’ Award. Renée happily awaits two events: the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the February, 2021 publication of her next book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A SOFT PLACE, (Flashpoint Publications.)


One comment

  1. Hey Renee, Just getting around to reading this. The fire has pretty much demanded my attention. But today and yesterday, the sky is clearing. Yay. I’ve read about the book Caste and think Wilkerson’s premise is fascinating and right on. And thanks for the update. Look what happens when you stir the pot! People listen! Stay well, friend.


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