Background: The Racial Justice Bookshelf was created to make it easy to find and buy antiracist books from Black-owned bookstores. Readers can select a title from a curated list of books to find a Black-owned bookstore that will ship it anywhere in the United States, or browse a list of bookstores by state to visit one in person.
The larger picture: Elevating the work of Black entrepreneurs, creatives, and thinkers plays a key role within the current racial justice movement. The oldest Black-owned bookstores in the United States have been promoting Black voices and stories for more than 60 years. Now, as antiracist books are dominating bestseller lists and those voices are being given a long-overdue national spotlight, the Racial Justice Bookshelf was created to help channel that spotlight into direct financial support for these bookstores.
The purchase of an antiracist book can often be a prerequisite to change, rather than an impactful action in its own right. By buying these titles from a Black-owned bookstore, however, readers are supporting a small business that could bolster the local economy, elevate its neighborhood, and eventually help close the racial wealth gap. In the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affects minority-owned businesses, this support is especially crucial.
New knowledge: Many antiracist reading lists were already circulating on the Internet, most created by people far more well-read than we are. We didn’t want to surpass them but instead wanted to create a list that every type of reader would find valuable—one that included a range of genres from food to fantasy, along with the more typical history or political science titles. We added several books to our own carts during the research process!
Navigation structure: The site was originally conceived as a two-tab Google Sheet: one with links to shop the books and the other to directly visit the bookstores. That simplicity of structure carried through to the final design, which uses large images and bold type to center the books and bookstores within the user experience.
Anything else? Check out our Instagram.