Dr. Gabrielle Jones Book Launch Event

Book Launch Day – March 23, 2024

Where do I even start? My book launch was one of the most Spirit-filling days of the 2024 year for me. I would put it up there with getting married and having my first child.

My book was essentially something I birthed. It was something that meant so much to me and represents my deep-seeded commitment to the work I have been doing my entire career, captured in a book and delivered by a framework; a framework developed on the shoulders of two very well-established in honorable black women. Psychologists, Dr. Nancy Boyd-Franklin and Dr. Janet Helms.

This book launch was more than just an event. It was a reveal. It was a reveal of my life transition through hair, as it was the first real “appearance” I have made with my sisterlocks (#HairFreedom Yall), and a reveal of what I believe will be known as the foundational content for culturally responsive substance use treatment delivery. Content that will change the way we know and understand substance use treatment for the foreseeable future. It was an opportunity for people to see me in a professional light for people to recognize how much is missing in the profession of substance use treatment. It was engaging and exciting and motivating.

The Preparation

I am sure I am not the only person who thought, “Ok, the book is written, now people can go buy it!” Without thinking about what it would take to make people WANT to buy the book. My assumption that everyone knows just as much as I do how important this book is to the world was terribly flawed. I am so grateful to my brand manager who told me, “Gabrielle. You gotta have a book launch! This is where people get to…….” Whatever she said after that was the equivalent of a Charlie Brown “womp womp womp womp wowowomp” in my ear.

I can speak for hours about how important and timely my book is, and I can talk about the lack of resources that are available to help people understand how to solve the problem, but if I don’t tell people I have this information, what is the use? So, like my brand manager said, I had to have a book launch event. Ironically, I have more event planning experience than I gave myself credit for initially. I have planned, coordinated, and executed countless national conference events, University programs, and milestone family celebrations. The main difference is those events were for other audiences and other people; not me.

Don’t underestimate the power of the mind, because mine was pretty impressive at making me think I could not plan a book launch; for MY OWN book; in MY OWN neighborhood. I also need to mention that I have a phenomenal community of people and support, and without them, the event would not have been as successful as it was.

The most important part of preparation for my book launch event was identifying an emcee. I had a very specific vibe in mind. I wanted someone who knew me personally, had enough familiarity to speak on the topic of substance use professionally outside of just what was in my book, and someone who could speak to specific parts of my book because they had read it. Most importantly, I wanted an emcee who was representative of the core of my book, someone who lived their various identities out loud and beautifully.

I have known Tobirus Newby for seven years. We met at a faculty meeting for UC Berkeley Extensions CADC program and we were both scheduled to teach. Funny enough, we didn’t connect at that meeting. I saw Tobirus making his way down a busy Oakland street, yelled out his name, reminded him of who I was, and followed up with an exchange of phone numbers because, being who I am, I wanted to connect with another Black person in the faculty space. We gotta stick together! From there, several conversations over lunches, visits to my home, and eventually visits with my son, made “Uncle Birus” family. When I thought of who could fill this ideal role I imagined, Tobirus was the ONLY option. Thank you for saying yes dear friend.

Dr. Gabrielle Jones Book Launch Event

The second part of my preparation was finding a venue. I was committed to ensuring the space met my requirements. I wanted an inviting space, a space that was warm enough to make anyone feel comfortable, structured enough to ensure focus was on the discussion, and Black-owned. I asked a few friends what spots they enjoyed and after touring locations, I landed on Kinfolx. The natural beauty of the space, the plants all over remind us of various forms of life and art. The paintings of Black women in all their beauty represented my hair for the event so well. Additionally, the colors matched my brand colors! I could not have made that up; it was clear this was the place I needed to host my book launch.

Finally was the decor. I cannot thank my brand manager enough for her amazing work. From my tablecloths to my flyers to my poster, she was incredible in making sure my branding was beautiful and consistent. My dear friend and colleague, Dr. Tai was not able to attend, but as I mentioned, my community showed up and she made the best question box and question cards I didn’t know I needed. Even my gift bags were intentional and in alignment with making people feel valued and appreciated for their time. Everyone came together and saw my vision with me. They helped me set up the space mentally, physically, and emotionally to ensure a successful event.

The Event

The book launch event was almost a microcosm of what I hope this book will do for substance use treatment, and that’s promote intersectionality. There were so many people from across different areas of my life at my book launch. I had several neighbors attend who were nowhere near mental health or substance use treatment, mentees who I have seen through transitions, family who only know me as Gabrielle and never have a chance to see me as Dr. G, college friends who have watched me grow into the woman I am today, VP and director level professionals in the mental health sector locally, statewide, and nationally, colleagues from previous jobs, my parent meet up group folx who only see me running after my wild toddler, and people I have never met or spoken to, but who heard about the event from somewhere. The diversity in attendance and attention they all paid throughout the entirety of the event confirmed how valuable and how practical my book is for anyone.

After people had an opportunity to mingle and converse, Tobirus and I began the conversation about the contents of my book. We discussed the “why” and the “why now” when it comes to culturally responsive substance use treatment. I discussed what it means to be culturally responsive and how to do it. We opened the discussion to the audience for questions and even though there were questions in the question box, we didn’t get to them because everyone present was so engaged and curious that we spent the time answering live questions. People stayed locked into the conversation and back and forth between me and the audience, truly ingesting the information.

Once we wrapped up the Q&A, I had a line of people waiting to purchase their copy of my book or to have their already purchased copy signed. A whole line! Everyone who came up to get their book commented on how amazing the event was, how excited they are about what the book is going to do for the profession, and how hopeful they are about taking the book into their workplaces to share and further digest the information. People commented on the innovative approach, recognition of the trailblazers before me, and humility in encouraging research, analysis, and discussion about the book and its concepts. After signing books and taking photos, the Kinfolx staff commented to me about how much they took from the talk, how this has been the most successful event they’ve hosted, and how appreciative they were of me choosing their establishment and of the work I have done. That was very impactful for me; people who have no attachment to my work being able to understand and appreciate it.

What’s Next

When I think about what’s next, I look at my calendar and see all the scheduled events coming up. I see the American Society of Addiction Medicine Conference where I will be accepting my award for promoting DEI in Addiction Medicine in April. I see the Oklahoma State University Outstanding Alumni Gala, where I will be recognized by my alma mater for the impact I have made in the mental health and substance use industries with my work. I see the Meet the Author event at the African American Museum and Library of Oakland where I will be discussing my book within the community. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you would like to be part of this movement, keep up with me on IG @Steady_LLC and my website to see where I will be next!

While I am humbled and grateful for what this book launch event has already done and what is to come with my upcoming events and talks, I am more hopeful about the substance use profession overall as it relates to my book. I think the concepts in my book and my framework are going to crystallize the idea of how to really accomplish the goal of providing truly culturally responsive substance use treatment. I think the book is going to open people’s minds up to a transformative way of understanding people who experience substance use and substance use disorders. I think it’s going to start the conversation at the very least, about how we need to start with changing our language around substance use.

My book reflects a recognition of how far behind we are with substance use treatment. It’s my hope that the event will ignite a level of excitement in people that they didn’t have before. That it would ignite a level of hope that people didn’t have before and that it would encourage people to really see their role in addressing the substance use crisis for minoritized and marginalized communities.

I think this book will contribute to saving a lot of lives and educating a lot of people in a supportive and encouraging way. I think it will bring hope to people who want to help. I think it’s going to bring a new level of invigoration for the profession and for people going into the profession. I think it’s going to give them tools that they can utilize to deliver culturally responsive substance use treatment more effectively to minoritized and marginalized communities. I think most importantly, it’s going to give us a shared understanding of what it means to truly provide culturally responsive substance use treatment and reduce these disparities that exist among minoritized and marginalized communities who experience substance use disorders.

I’m so excited for what’s to come. I am humbled and grateful that my book launch event is already encouraging people to take action. So many people came up to me and said, “Wow, I had never thought about it like this” or, “oh my goodness, this event was so different than anything I’ve ever experienced.” It’s that soul that people felt at the launch event and that passion from which I wrote the book.

The hope that I give in my book is true, it’s real. It connects. It goes beyond the typical data collection data analysis. It makes you feel like you can actually contribute to positive change, and my call to action is that you help me put my words from this book into action.

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