Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Demise of a Black Bookstore

The Washington Post recently ran a story about a black bookstore chain, Karibu, which is closing because of a conflict between owners. That the chain is closing saddens me; customers described it as a community centerpiece. "It's like the barbershop, like the black beauty salon," said one of the owners, Simba Sana. Such a cultural focal point shouldn't be allowed to die -- especially when the issue isn't its long-term economic viability but rather personal issues between owners. It sounds like the equivalent of the child with the ball saying he's sick of losing, so he's taking his ball and going home.

This is a chain where authors like Toni Morrison and Walter Mosely connected with their audiences in a way that I'd imagine was different from a reading at the local Barnes & Noble. And yes, it probably was better as well as different.

I don't live there, I don't know the owners, and I'm not an African-American. So it's not for me to say what's right and what's wrong in this specific situation. But I hope that some better resolution to this issue can be found. Community assets like that shouldn't die this way. It affects too many real people.

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