Local bookstores offer anti-racist books for all ages

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Kaycee Orwig | Visual Editor

The City of Asylum and White Whale bookstores created anti-racist booklists that contain books that discuss race, culture and what it’s like being black in America.

By Ananya Pathapadu, Staff Writer

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer, along with the other recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, have sparked protests across the United States and around the world.

To help educate adults and children on racism, Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum and White Whale bookstores have created anti-racist booklists with books that discuss race, culture and what it’s like to be black in America.

City of Asylum is a local nonprofit located in the North Side that supports writers, offers literary programs and backs neighborhood economic development.

The City of Asylum anti-racist reading list includes texts such as the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning novel “The Underground Railroad,” along with the short story collection “Friday Black” and poetry books “Citizen: An American Lyric” and “Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems.”

White Whale Bookstore is a family-owned Bloomfield shop opened by Adlai and Jill Yeomans in 2016. The storefront location is temporarily closed, but readers can place online orders for books. All proceeds from purchases of books on the anti-racist booklist made this month will go to Black Lives Matter.

Anti-racist kids’ books are on the reading list published by White Whale. The books aim to start conversations about racism with kids aged 2-7, with titles such as “Girl of Mine,” “Hey Black Child” and “Woke Baby” for younger kids and “The Undefeated,” “Something Happened in Our Town” and “Not My Idea” for older ones.

White Whale is also selling an activity box called “The Beauty of Black and Brown,” which includes a painting set from Hatch Art Studio that encourages kids to draw people of all skin colors. Proceeds from this box will go to Dreams of Hope, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that works with LGBTQ+ youth.

In a June 2 letter to customers, the Yeomans said it was important to uplift black voices and literature, and they felt they have a responsibility to do so as white business owners.

“This is not to pat ourselves on the back, but to let you know that we expect to be held accountable in our mission to highlight and amplify POC voices,” the letter said. “Our shelves in-store reflect this choice, but as a white-owned business, we have a responsibility to do more.”

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