While researching in the Eugene B. Redmond Archives at Southern University Illinois—Edwardsville, Christiana McClain stumbled on a box of letters sent from authors Audre Lorde and Toni Cade Bambara seeking guidance or offering advice to Redmond. Christiana yearned for that type of community where she could give and seek feedback with other black women writers.
On May 22nd she sent out a tweet searching for another black woman writer she could confide in. By the next day, she had over 150 black women reaching out to her in search of a community of writers. Because of that, Christiana created this online platform to service a need for black women and non-binary writers to connect with each other. She named the platform The Black Woman’s Latitude
after Nikky Finney's poem “The Girlfriend Train” where the speaker of the poem recognizes herself in another black woman and the journey it took to find each other. This is symbolic of the journey it has taken our writers to find this space and the journey moving forward.
Over 400 black women and non-binary writers signed up for the database, writing in all genres from fiction to screenwriting to bloggers. There are discussion boards and a list of the black women and non-binary writers signed into the database separated by genre(s). We are working to make this platform a safe space, so practice kindness and discretion when participating in the forums.
In the future, The Black Woman’s Latitude hopes to bring this online community to a physical space for participants to meet. We hope to host retreats, workshops, and readings.