Asha Grant brought The Free Black Women's Library from NYC to LA with the desire to bring black girlhood together though the written and spoken word. You may see the moving library around LA in some of the best coffee shops and community spaces. She is a self proclaimed and true to fact Vibe Curator, putting together readings and events that bring community in discussion of what black girlhood means and how to expand it in addition to diving into poetry and infamous written pieces by the best modern and classic black writers. Talking with Asha left me feeling more connected to community and excited to see how the LA community is being driven by powerful womxn such as herself. She is on a beautiful mission and has the most amazing, intelligent, and unique point of view to execute her path. Keep your eyes open for the events that she will be producing as well as the expansion of The Free Black Women's Library.
Who do you believe yourself to be?
Asha Grant. I am committed to preserving and protecting the stories of black girls, femmes, and non-binaries. I am starting to consider myself a Director of Freedom Magic and Bookstagramming - and Hood Librarian - but mostly protecting and preserving black girlhood through books, through conversation, and visibility.
Why do you make your work?
I do what I do because it sustains me. One thing about being a black girl is constantly being up against things that are not you or are asking a lot of you...to bend or break, a number of things. In an effort to not bend and break it's important that I am constantly creating, affirming, and seeing myself in everything that I do.
What do you believe in?
I really do believe in the power of people. To use the language of Audre Lorde, when we don't look away we are able to unlock so many things. When I speak of “not looking away”, I mean really becoming vulnerable with one another in a way that's real and we are able to poke a hole in those forces that are against us. It's about owning ourselves and recognizing that my liberation is going to lead to yours, that no one is free unless we are all free and my oppression is your oppression. None of us are isolated individuals in this thing.
One thing you say YES to?
Eating! There’s so much pressure to just not do it. A lot of that I believe is rooted in control and oppression because eating brings us so much pleasure, haha. And there is a way to engage in it responsibly. I deserve to feel this pleasure even for a moment and can determine when to stop...and if I don't it's my business!
One thing you say NO to?
I say no to men, a lot.
What change would you like to see?
I would like to see the level of radical living that I see online, in real life. I love being inspired by things I see online and feeling motivated to live more authentically. I would love to do that in real time. A lot of people bare their sole on social media - which is radical and a huge way to amplify a deeper part of yourself, but in real life I feel like people don't do it as much because it’s harder. I would love to see that.
How would you describe your personal routine?
So, I actually recently developed a morning routine. As a black woman, skincare is very important to me, my friends, my community. Having a daily morning exfoliation is so important to me because I literally feel like I am getting under so much. Just the process of removing the things you no longer need and then replenishing with oils or butters is to me a good practice in wellness. Not even just for skin but in life. This practice of shedding and restoring. That's something I do daily. Also serious gelling of baby hair that I do that is a nod to black girlhood and I would say is also a self-care practice.
What did you want to be as a child?
I wanted to be an architect, then I took geometry and then decided that was dead. I think it still connects to me because I love creating spaces. Vibe Curator.
One solid piece of advice that you got for the growth of your work?
Don't write yourself out of your narrative. My best friend told me this. I can be very social media shy. She explained you can be so involved in your work and your community to the point where you’re not even there. I think too, just being a black girl and always being asked to put others before you, to be in that production mode and not really taking the time to celebrate yourself is something that I have been working through.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
Solange. In any capacity!
Who is one person in culture you feel is making positive change?
Tricia Hersey at the NAP Ministry. The NAP ministry is an organization built around the idea resting can combat capitalism and white supremacy. This idea that taking time to rest means your lazy or unproductive is a huge lie fed to us by the capitalist giants. Tricia is a black woman in Atlanta who creates nap spaces around town for people to really take a restorative break. She’s someone who I look up to for guidance in reshaping how we understand liberation, community, and activism, which I think can be so ableist and rooted in exhaustion and tirelessness.