If the Sistah Girls Book Club had a flag it would fly half-staff until every heart that was broken by the news of Nena’s passing was mended.

When I started the Sistah Girls Book Club I never thought deeply about the bonds that would be made or the laughs and inside jokes that would be shared. But when you take a gang of like-minded black women who enjoy reading and put us in the same space sparks will surely fly.

I met Nena by way of author Love Belvin and a gang of her dope readers (if you know then you know), we connected but it was not an instant hit. I vividly remember having a full out back and forth with this woman because we did not agree about colorism within the black community.

Nena by definition is a dark-skinned beauty and I am lighter in complexion, without getting too deep in the backstory I told her how I was raised. (My family has every shade of black). She shared her story and it was a teachable moment, once I dug deeper I realized she was right–light-skinned privilege is very real.

You might be wondering, what was the point of that story? Well, that’s how the nicknames “Ebony and Ivory,” began…

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What started out as me rolling my eyes and refusing to concede during an argument ended with me forming a friendship with a beautiful, smart, super talented, woman of God. I soon realized we had a whole lot in common for instance, we both loved the same authors.

We are both picky eaters, we both shook our heads in disgust whenever someone messed up “Total Praise,” and recorded it for the masses to see. We enjoyed a good joke, and we stayed up late posting memes. It got to a point that whenever Nena posted her thoughts on something (because I always agreed with her) I would just say, “Dass why you my Ebony cuz you be knowing!” lol.

In 2017, we had our first author signing and Nena attended. I remember like it was yesterday because in a sea of authors and readers she stood out wearing a gorgeous yellow top with a black and white skirt.

I saw Nena before she saw me, her back was turned and I decided to yell to the top of my lungs “Ebonyyyy!!!” I fully expected Nena to ignore the call (because who remembers a nickname in a crowded room) but she turned and yelled right back “Ivory!!!” while dancing all the way over to me, she gave me the biggest hug.

I kept saying “Yassss Nena,” her beauty mixed with her style was striking. Throughout the event, I wondered if we did a good job and then I noticed a little commotion in the corner of the room, low and behold it was Nena stepping with Love Belvin.

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I smiled big, whenever black women dance during an event that means it was a success. That moment was priceless, here you had a Sistah Girl who loved reading dancing with her favorite author. That moment captured the essence of the Sistah Girls Book Club. That moment was black girl magic, it was everything I hoped for…it was beautiful.

To wake up to the news that Nena is no longer with us literally broke my heart. My beautiful Ebony has transitioned.

I pray that all of her family and friends find comfort during this tough time, I pray for their strength and I pray that every Sistah Girl who loves Nena finds comfort in knowing that she loved y’all right back.

And to my dearest Sistah Girl, Nena (aka my Ebony), because I am a believer I know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…so I know you’re good.

I also know that where you are now the music never stops. You are slaying them all with a banging outfit that you made, sporting a hair cut that turns heads and showing off a two-step that will make anyone want to join in.

Rest peacefully, friend.

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