For those who like reading more…
Black Girl Convention was born in 2017, launched by Mena Fombo following her No You Cannot Touch My Hair campaign and TEDx Talk in Bristol.
“Having lived in London for several years, relocating back home to Bristol in 2014 was a culture shock. Whilst I had grown up in Bristol, the city had changed so much during the 7.5 years I was gone.
Many black led spaces I had previously connected with had financial support withdrawn or lost, or simply ceased to exist. The much loved St Pauls’ Carnival was unstable – and I found it hard to relocate, or connect with Bristol’s black community on those things which I was interested in, like activism, media and the creative arts, politics etc. I found myself being drawn to the abundance of events back in London – which was proving costly.
I came to realise that there was actually lots happening across the city, but first I had to find the right circles and many of these were not visible.
I also found myself in a Bristol where previously direct overt racism was generally unacceptable, but the Bristol I had returned to saw me being called a ‘Black Cunt’ whilst walking down the street, accused of stealing in high street stores because I was wearing a hoody and looked ‘suspicious’, and more than ever before people would grab my hair in public spaces, at work events etc. which led to create the No You Cannot Touch My Hair campaign.
As a senior manager in the arts and cultural sector, and as an entrepreneur I often find myself still as the only one or one of a handful of black, female faces contributing to or invited to the table. Not only is this both emotionally draining, and frustrating, it also feels as though you’re constantly having to fly the flag (but not too much!) and oftentimes, do it alone. It began to affect my wellbeing and love for the city I had returned to. Through talking with other black women, and working with young people I found the story was common, and felt that we do needed to do more; to create more spaces to connect, to be present. Not only that but also to curate visible targeted events where our needs and interests were top of the agenda, not an after thought, a box check or tokenistic gesture with no real substance.
Black Girl Convention is a space to do just that! Whilst I spend much of my time promoting equality, diversity and equity values-led practice cross sector, and trying to undo the ills that a post colonial society still continues to breed – Black Girl Convention was an opportunity to invest time and energy not trying to assimilate, or fight injustice, but create a space to celebrate, appreciate, connect and enjoy all the things that unite us black women, led by, for and from the perspective of those with lived experience.
Black Girl Convention has an amazing team behind the programme this year, and as it’s grown without these people, all things would not be possible! Particular shouts out to Bobbi @todayimbobbi, Joy @thesociadetail, Yasmin and Eshiva. We have some excellent partners who support the vision and we are building this up to be an event for Black Women and Girls across the South West that is not to be missed!”