The 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Black Author’s Expo is back for another day of fun, family-oriented events, adult writing workshops, a cosplay contest, and an all-Black Sci-Fi panel starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Sept. 25 at The Hall at NetPark in Tampa. TBBAE founder Tonisha Kimble (above) provides a place for the area’s Black literary minds to gather, network, and share their stories with their community.
BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer
TAMPA BAY — The Tampa Bay Black Authors Expo (TBBAE), the only expo dedicated to authors of color in the Tampa Bay area, is back for its second year. The free event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10-4 p.m., in Tampa at The Hall at NetPark, 6213 E Hillsborough Ave. Reservations are required and can be made on the expo’s official website at tbbae.com.
The expo will include fun, family-oriented events, including a cosplay contest and several adult workshops, such as TBBAE co-host, author, and healthy lifestyle enthusiast Jeffrey White’s popular writing workshop, a writing engagement by Kitchen Table Literary Center, and a Black Sci-Fi panel.
TBBAE founder Tonisha Kimble shared that while this year’s expo was originally scheduled for 2020, the pandemic stalled those plans. Kimble, a Gulf Coast Mississippi native, put the time to good use, returning to Mississippi to open a brick-and mortar-bookstore there during this period.
Additionally, she operates her online store, WoW Book and Toy Store, an online multicultural children’s book and toy store.
While Kimble admitted that juggling all these balls during COVID has been “stressful all the way around,” her zeal for Tampa Bay as a literary goldmine hasn’t wavered.
“When I envisioned the expo, I always had a long-term goal. It was never going to be just one and done,” noted Kimble. “I’m continuing with my vision because honestly, it would hurt me if I gave up or stopped. I really enjoyed the Tampa Bay area; I see the Black creative potential that’s here and see that there’s a need for some purposeful action.”
Kimble partnered with the dynamic Jeffrey White for the first festival, and this year he’s back to share his tips on making a living as a working creative.
A former stockbroker turned personal trainer, author, and triathlete, White has written over a dozen books. During the first expo, he shared with workshop attendees that the way to succeed is to “Write, write, write, write, write. One book is cool, but the more books you have, the greater probability you have of making money.”
Much has been made of the rise in Black book sales since the death of George Floyd, as many white folks realized they needed to step up their understanding of racism, white supremacy, and Black culture and took to Black bookstores to do it.
“On the one hand, it was great to see an increase in sales but on the other hand, it was coming at the expense of Black trauma and pain,” Kimble acknowledged.
While she said it was hard to know whether the attention was genuine, as a Black bookseller, she stated, “It was a weird time. But I’m always glad to get more diverse books in more hands, and I am glad to have seen more difficult conversations be had.”
TBBAE grew out of a desire to showcase the diverse literary talent flourishing in the greater Tampa Bay area. By creating the only expo of its kind in the Bay area, Kimble provides a place for the area’s Black literary minds to gather, network, and share their stories with their community.
Kimble believes it makes sense for the Bay area to have a dedicated festival to recognize its Black writers. “There’s no reason why the festival can’t be known on a national level, considering how popular the Bay area is. So that’s why I’m coming back.”
The Tampa Bay Black Authors Expo, hosted by Wonders of the World Book and Toy Store and Jeff White Fitness, will be located at The Hall at NetPark in Tampa.
To reach J.A. Jones, email email@example.com