Just Jewel’s Book Signings, Apparently The Perfect Place To Judge A Book By Its Cover

Posted: November 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Recently I held two book signing events for my novel, Two Way Mirrors. There were two different occurrences I witnessed during each event that has urged me to write this post. The book signing in San Diego took place on a rooftop, which, I thought was a nice and classy location. I served wine and appetizers and asked a few poets I know to perform. I knew most of the people that came. They were either friends or people I knew from the open mic circuit. There was a nice turnout from a Meetup group I belong to called San Diego Black Professionals. Most of them I did not know but was glad they came out to support. They seemed a little reserved, but still, just seemed like regular people to me. It wasn’t until I arrived home later that evening to find that one of the attendees made a comment on Facebook while at the signing. Don’t quote me but it was something like I know these uppity Negroes are probably wondering what I’m doing here. Not only did I find this offensive, but also unnecessary. I definitely don’t consider myself an “uppity Negro” and I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the other people there weren’t paying this guy any attention. It was, after all, an evening about me and my book :).

The second book signing was held at a nice bookstore in the heart of Downtown Newark, NJ. It was a great location because it was a high traffic area and at a well-known store that was recently on a reality show. Once again I had wine and cheese but instead of having poets perform, I went out on the street and performed to engage the passer-byers. My family was there to help and support. My mother, being the proud mother hen she is, was on her job talking to customers. One guy was there with his friend who had purchased my book. He was holding it for her and my mom asked him if he’d just purchased the book. He told her no and after she walked away I heard him say to his friend, “Here, take this book before these people think I’m trying to steal something.” He didn’t know I heard him. He also didn’t know my mother was only asking about his purchase because she was making sure no customer left without having their book signed by me. Just like the other guy I mentioned, I didn’t care enough to say anything. Plus I didn’t know this guy; so I continued on about my business. He waited until after the signing was over to approach me. It turned out he was also a new writer and was interested in having me publish his book(s). Before I let him tell me about any of that, I made sure he knew that I heard what he said and I explained to him why my mother asked him about the book. I could tell he was embarrassed, as he should’ve been.

What is the point of my telling you these two stories? I’m sure you’re familiar with that saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I think people come from certain backgrounds and/or lifestyles and histories are so use to being pre-judged that they have now turned into the judgers themselves. When you are surrounded by or come into contact with people who come from a different background than you, it is not fair to automatically assume that they look down on you. Not everyone who may have had a privileged upbringing, or is “educated”, or speaks properly, or has class thinks they are superior to those who don’t. When you take one look at a group of people and call them uppity because they don’t look or act the way you think they should, YOU are preemptively placing yourself beneath them. Sure, I’ve had people look down on me because of places I’ve lived or maybe the way I wear my hair. I’ve even been outright dismissed and cut off by some once they found out I don’t have a degree. So I know it happens. I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m saying give people the benefit of doubt. It is unfair for you to make up your mind about what people may or may not be thinking about you before they even open their mouths or converse with you. When you do that, you’re confirming that you are no better than them. Don’t deflect your insecurities off on other people because you subconsciously feel less than or even possibly intimidated.


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