Because Of Them We Can
By BOTWC Staff
No matter where you are in life, there’s always an opportunity to further your knowledge and understanding. More importantly, check your sources and make sure that the writers have shared values and a commitment to the communities you belong in. One of our favorite cities, and a hub for Black culture, New York, has some of the best bookstores ever that cater to Black and brown communities. To help you out, here are 6 bookstores to visit in New York City if you want to support more Black authors, courtesy of Travel Noire and 10Melanin:
Grandma’s Place in Harlem is owned by a retired New York City educator named Dawn Martine. Known affectionately as Grandma Dawn, she combined her passion for education with her love of toys, opening the bookstore and toyshop with Black and brown children in mind. Dedicated to teaching children beyond the classroom, a trip to Grandma’s Place to pick up a good book is just what your littles need.
Cups + Books
Cups and Books is a Black-owned and operated family business located in Brooklyn, New York. The independent cafe and bookstore mix national bestsellers with books by African Diaspora authors in an effort to give customers a little bit of whatever they need. They have a section for Black Sci-Fi and comic books as well as a shop that sells sustainably sourced coffee from the Caribbean. This is a necessary stop on your travels.
Cafe Con Libros
Cafe con Libros is another indie bookstore located in Brooklyn that centers Black feminist intersectional work.
“Cafe con Libros (coffee with books) is an Intersectional Feminist community bookstore and coffee shop. Through our choice of books, programming and great coffee, we endeavor to create a vibrant community space where everyone; specifically womxn-identified folx, feel centered, affirmed, and celebrated,” a statement on the website reads.
The owner, Kalima DeSuze, is an Afro-Latinx woman of Panamanian descent who seeks to shine a light on the multi-faceted beauty of the Diaspora.
“Black folx can be Latinx. We can and do speak Spanish. We can and do speak French. There is no pure way of being Black. It is worth repeating again: slaves were not only dropped off in North America. Our ancestors were enslaved in just about every country in the Caribbean and South America. We will never just be Black; it’s reductive and violent to erase whole parts of who we are or to actively exclude us,” said DeSuze.
In addition to its brick-and-mortar shop, Cafe con Libros also has a Feminist Book Club that meets every Sunday of the month and a Womxn of Color Book Club that meets every fourth Sunday of the month.
The Schomburg Shop
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading institutions on African-Americans, the African Diaspora, and African experiences. Featuring more than 11 million items detailing the richness of global Black history and culture, the Schomburg Shop is the consumer accompaniment for all things Schomburg.
The items range from classic to contemporary books, featuring items for adults and kids alike. There are exclusive collaborations designed just for the Schomburg and the shop seeks to educate and inspire above all else.
The Lit Bar
Avid readers are drawn to this Bronx-based shop for more than just the name. Owned by Noëlle Santos, an African-American and Puerto Rican Bronx native, at The Lit Bar, readers can both enjoy a good book and a good glass of wine.
The goal is to “encourage curious readers and welcome literary and community gatherings, while the wine bar connects the great pastimes of social sipping and introverted reading.”
Santos made it a point to open up in her native borough because of the lack of access to independent bookstores that catered to Black and brown people.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center was opened in 2007 by mother and daughter Janifer and Kori Wilson. The two were inspired by the old adage, “knowledge is power,” hoping to help with the reigniting of underserved residents in the Washington Heights community.
“We provide resources for members of the community to nurture their minds, hearts, and souls with present and past works of gifted African-American authors and other great intellectuals, including masters of spoken word,” Janifer explained.
Happy reading folks!
Here are 6 bookstores to visit in NYC if you want to support more Black authors. Photo Courtesy of The Lit Bar/Instagram