8 Black-Owned Bookstores to Support Right Now (and Always)
One of the best ways to educate yourself about racial injustice, white privilege and police brutality is to read about it. But let's take it one step further and buy said reading materials from Black-owned bookstores. Though most bookstores around the country are closed because of COVID-19, there are plenty that you can order from online, for delivery or even curbside pickup. Here are eight Black booksellers to shop from right now—and always. (Note that this is an abbreviated list; see more at Publisher's Weekly.)
1. The Lit. Bar (Bronx, NY)
Owned and operated by Proprietress and Bronx native Noëlle Santos, The Lit. Bar is currently the only bookstore serving the borough of 1.5 million people. Its mission is "to create a haven that inspires reading, encourages healthy social connections, highlights diverse voices and increases intellectual visibility in the Bronx."
2. Mahogany Books (Washington, D.C.)
Created by husband-wife team Derrick and Ramunda Young, Mahogany Books was an online bookstore for ten years that specialized in books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora. In 2017, the shop opened its first physical location in Washington D.C., where it continues to promote reading, writing and cultural awareness.
3. Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books (Philadelphia, PA)
Co-owned by Temple University professor, BET News host Marc Lamont Hill, Uncle Bobbie's was established in 2017. At the time of its opening, Hill told Philadelphia magazine that while he grew up in a family that valued reading, it was his Uncle Bobbie who introduced him to publications like Ebony, Jet and Black Enterprise, and the idea of using words as a way of understanding the world. In addition to books, Uncle Bobbie's sells a cafe menu and assorted accessories, and it hosts author readings and events (when not in a pandemic).
4. Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery (Chicago, IL)
Chicago's only black woman-owned bookstore and gallery space, Semicolon was established by DL Mullen with the mission of "nurturing the connection between literature, art, and the pursuit of knowledge; while also using the power of words to better our community." You can order books now to be shipped to your home, or via curbside pickup if you live in the Chicago area.
5. Black Stone Bookstore & Culture Center (Ypsilanti, MI)
Opened in 2013, Black Stone is an independent African-American bookstore located a block away from the Eastern Michigan University College of Business that aims to bring awareness to true African-American literature and culture. In addition to books, the store sells clothing, oils, incense, soaps, jewelry, health & beauty products and more (in store and online). You can also help Black Stone by donating to its Go Fund Me page, which was set up in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
6. Café con Libros (Brooklyn, NY)
Opened in 2017 by Kalima DeSuze, Café con Libros is an intersectional feminist community bookstore and coffee shop. Through its choice of books and programming, it aims to "create a vibrant community space where everyone, specifically female identified folx, feel centered, affirmed and celebrated." Because of closures due to COVID-19, there's even a helpful list on the site about how to support the store right now, from subscribing to its monthly podcast, Black Feminist & Bookish to buying audiobooks via Libro.fm to simply recommending the store and site to friends.
7. Cultured Books (St. Petersburg, FL)
This one's for the kids. Cultured Books is a children's bookstore whose mission is to foster self-love by showing positive images and sharing great stories about people of color, to show our children that Black stories don’t begin with struggle and to broaden world views. There's a whole section of curated books about race and racism for kids of all ages.
8. Eso Won Books (Los Angeles, CA)
Located in South Los Angeles, Eso Wan was established in 1990 by co-owners James Fugate and Thomas Hamilton. Here's how author Ta-Nehisi Coates—who calls it his favorite bookstore—described it to The New York Times: "It is part of the larger community of independent bookstores that writers celebrate, but its specific mission is to make sure black authors always have a home."