I am 2000 and late on the news, but it was a few days ago when I learned of The Book Club created and organized by Chicago rapper Noname. Initially started last year, I came across a tweet of hers on twitter when looking for some type of escapism from the horror of death, fire and military action by the U.S. in the Middle East. The tweet I stumbled upon links to the Patreon of said book club and when I read on, I learned that it aims to become an online/IRL community dedicated to uplifting POC voices. Two authors of color will be highlighted each month by the club to be read and discussed along with local meetups in select cities. Imagine the smile on my face poking around on their website and the social media seeing so many Black and Brown folks with reading material, with smiles and most of all–gathered together.
The website mentions that currently there are 6 local chapters with plans for continuous growth. It really interests me as I, like so many of you on the internet, am apart of so many types of clubs, groups, channels all of varying interests and association. Even when I pull up all the ones that are just geared for literature, or books, these are still many folks I never see in person. Online communities are great, don’t get me wrong. I love my folks all-over, however this promise of being able to have both: the online community and the in-person meetups to discuss the monthly picks in a safe and supportive environment?
I’m sold and eager to hear more. And to clarify for the haters: this type of model isn’t new. Other folks with other organizations and sites and the like have used it, yet it hasn’t been perfected. In truth, book clubs, in general, ain’t new. (The Marathon Book Club is a monthly gathering to discuss books touted by the late rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle) Consider that Noname’s Book Club might be the first foray into online meetups for people who have been curious, too scared to look into before, or seemingly disappointed that no one looked like them at these types of meetups. Also, consider that leaving home and navigating the streets for many POC, but I’ll specify as I am a Black woman–safe places are far and few between most days.
But what takes the cake? What made me take out my wallet and sit down and bust this piece out on a Saturday morning before second breakfast? Noname’s Bookclub has a vision of sustainability and a pledge to push for education. With every subscription to the Patreon means compensating staff, graphic designers, photographers, and facilitators which is key. In a day and time where huge, multi-million dollar publications are still pushing unpaid internships and rent (is too damn high!) control still doesn’t exist in many places around the country–attempting to create and keep something creative ongoing is ideal and realistically needs support and especially support by way of dollar bills. The website also mentions that a 2020 goal is that they also want to raise funds to send their monthly picks to select prisons in various cities.
Further detailed is the push for acknowledging bookstore and libraries: for example, there are links to the Los Angeles Public Library and the Chicago Public Library who partnered up with the book club. As for the bookstores, shopping locally is encouraged with photos, addresses and phone numbers to such book havens like Hakim’s Bookstore in Philadelphia and the Reparations Club in Los Angeles. The stress to shop local is felt at the bottom of the about page on the website with the words: Noname. No Amazon. Shop Local. The intent is further felt when glancing on social media with such tweets as the one below, advertising #FuckAmazonDay where on January 11, a mass registering for library cards to promote free access to book and education will take place. Excited, I am.
#FuckAmazonDay / January 11, 2020
(we will register for library cards, check out books and promote free access to education) pic.twitter.com/jbbSpvSNeY
— Noname’s Book Club (@NonameBooks) January 4, 2020
2020 has a rocky start when we look to our leaders in Congress, when we ponder the possibility of important landmark decisions regarding reproductive issues which include women’s bodies being overturned, and so much more.
With knowing all of that, you know what? I choose joy. I refuse to let fear snatch away my sensibilities. And I choose rebellion and self-care and knowing that there’s very possibly another community of there I can connect to, a safe place I can use to stand in with books, weapons of a certain kind. While officially started in the summer of 2019, Noname’s Bookclub is already inspiring more folks to gather, organize and aim for big thangs: preserving our local bookstores, engaging our public libraries, putting an emphasis on authors of color and so much more.
I’m happy for Noname and the book club she’s created that has been flourishing since last year. One of my greatest hopes is that in 2020, she continues to find purpose with this endeavor that’s shaping up to be an awesome movement and inspiring folks like me. 2020 started off hella rocky but seeing Black women make moves and birth more creative endeavors that still around give me hope, and that ‘s a little of what we all need right now.
All photos courtesy of the Noname Bookclub website and Patreon.
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