Feb 9, 2024
This Black History Month, Torch acknowledges the importance of amplifying Black women writers year-round.
What does Black History Month mean to an organization dedicated to Black women? Is our work quantifiable? Do we use these 28 (this year, 29) days to amplify the work we’ve BEEN doing? For us, this month is a reminder to the world that we’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.
Storytelling is Black women’s tool for preserving history. Torch started in 2006 with a mission to amplify Black women writers across the diaspora. We all have impactful stories to tell, yet are continuously undermined in publishing, literary awards, and general recognition. The National Endowment for the Arts found that around 25% of adult readers are people of color. However, according to the New York Times, from 1950 to 2018, 95% of published fiction books were written by white authors. This lack of diversity and representation in publishing is why Torch exists.
Torch’s work to establish a community for Black women writers these past 18 years laid the foundation for our nonprofit status in 2022. However, establishing a foundation and continuity as a nonprofit is only the first step of our journey toward sustainability. Historically, Black-led nonprofit organizations are underfunded. According to Young, Black & Giving Back Institute, most Black-led nonprofits operate on a budget of less than $500,000 annually, relying mostly on volunteer and part-time work.
Despite the institutional ebbs and flows of Black recognition and diversity suppression, Torch remains a community dedicated to achieving our mission. In 2023 alone, we held 12 special events, hosted 5 workshops, started our inaugural Torch Retreat, gathered for 3 Wildfire Reading series, and published 41 Black women. And yes, all of our Torch Features get paid for their work.
Without you attending our events, donating to our fundraisers, and sharing our Features’ works, we wouldn’t be able to continue on the visionary journey of paying Black women and amplifying our stories. Thank you for your contribution year-round.
To Black Futures,
The Torch Team