HUDSON — Nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd led many people to take to the streets, and many are also turning to the page to learn and reflect.
Among the lists of places to donate and ways to help, activists have also shared books to educate oneself on anti-racism and the experiences of the Black community.
Local independent bookstores have seen the impact, with many titles selling out. Chapter2Books in Hudson has received a lot of requests for books on anti-racism.
“We sold out of nearly every book we had of that theme,” owner Brian Roegge said.
Since then, Roegge said he has been able to find one copy of a few titles, but stock is down to what is set aside on a table in the store.
Even at the publishing level, stock is low. Publishers have emailed Roegge to say they are out of stock and working to reprint titles as quickly as possible.
“But it’s going to take time,” he said. Mid-June is the earliest they expect restocks, though Roegge said July seems more likely.
Fair Trade Books in Red Wing has seen requests not just from individuals, but also from book clubs and community organizations who want to encourage a dialogue, co-owner Zoe Malinchoc-DeVoe said.
“None of these books are the most easy things to read, but they’re important and they address some of the really powerful issues we face,” she said.
Fair Trade still has a few copies of various books on anti-racism, including nationally recommended ones such as “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi, as well as ones with a local focus such as “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota,” which features stories from people around the state about their experiences as minorities.
“We are gratified to learn that residents in southern Minnesota want to see their communities do better, and that a way of understanding an individual’s life experience can be found through reading,” Malinchoc-DeVoe said.
Rogge said this isn’t the first time his store has seen a flood in requests. Usually it happens when an author or public figure dies.
“Not to the scale we’re seeing now,” he said.
The requests have begun to help offset the lull they saw during the pandemic, Rogge said.
“I really wish we had inventory. Then we’d be saying, ‘What pandemic?’” he said.
Chapter2Books does have a backlog of orders. Rogge said he hopes people don’t lose their motivation to learn during that time.
“That’s my biggest fear is this is going to be a fad or die out when we do get the books,” he said.
Rogge said it’s important to remember learning is a lifelong experience.
“You might think you know a lot about a certain subject, but when it comes down to it there are experts, authors, other folks who also know a lot about it as well,” he said.
Local owners or workers can be a resource for someone who may not know where to start.
“They’ve either read it or have read about it,” Rogge said. “They’re going to know and be able to give good recommendations based on fact.”
Independent bookstores can serve as a host to conversations surrounding these issues, Fair Trade Books co-owner Rick Malinchoc-DeVoe said, through programming, film showing and author talks.
“I can speak for our mission here, which I think many independent bookstore owners share with this mission at least in part, which is to be a focal point for expanding the comments and the conversations surrounding community,” he said.
The books they sell are also a vehicle for that.
“Books themselves are just a ready thing to share, especially anything that’s timely, that people want other members of their family or people they work with or just anyone in their circles to understand them and their viewpoint,” Rick Malinchoc-DeVoe said. “A book is a handy way to share that.”
- "How to be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi
- "This Book is Antiracist" by Tiffany Jewell
- "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo
- "Waking up White: A Finding Myself in the Story of Race" by Debby Irving
- "White Rage" by Carol Anderson
- "A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota" edited by Sun Yung Shin
- "So You Want To Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo
- "Dying of Whiteness" by Jonathan Metzl
- "Race for Profit" by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
- "Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders in the North Star State" by Christopher P. Lehman