Noname opens Radical Hood Library, home of the book club

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When Noname started her book club in the summer of 2019, the business started out as an in-person and online way to reach out to others by reading books from people of color, with a focus on liberation. Twelve national chapters and a wave of support later, the book club has a physical headquarters.

The library section includes writings on prisons, theory (black feminism, queer theories, etc.), global black resistance, class organization, organizational strategies, African American history, l imperialism, literature, etc. Noname explained on Twitter that the use of the space would be guided by the needs of the community.

This book club was not born from an idea via Twitter convos that turned into meetings and then into a library. The Transformative Seed began, as with many readers and artists, with exposure to books and nurturing the imagination from childhood.

In 2019, when Noname started the Book Club, she spoke to Trevor Noah on The daily show on its intimate history with community reading spaces. Her mother opened an independent bookstore in the 90s and she was more exposed to the importance of reading and community through this experience.

She also spoke of the rebellion inherent in opening a reading space focused on reading material for the liberation of blacks. Noname does so by citing the FBI operation COINTELPRO. Among the many targets of the 1960s surveillance program (such as Anti-War, Civil Rights, Black Power, and other movements) were black libraries. Fifty-three years ago this week, the department sent out a one-page note announcing increased attention to black bookstores and their owners.

In addition to online and in-person discussions, the book club also focuses on accessing material. They promote black-owned bookstores and the use of libraries. Last year, they also partnered with seven cities across the United States to ensure book club picks were in their branch collections. This includes nearly 200 branches between the seven cities.

The services offered by the Noname Book Club go beyond group discussions and reading. In 2020, the book club expanded its activities with the prison program to send books to inmates. In April, they were sending 44 books a month, but now that number is over 600. Speaking of which, Noname said that even though the library (as they imagined) was not working, the space would serve as a shipping space, packaging for these books sent to prisons.

This openness (like everything Noname does) has drawn unfair criticism. Some have pointed out that she engages in capitalism by renting the space in which the library is located and that she should have housed it in Chicago (where she began her career). Since she’s been living in Los Angeles for a few years, it doesn’t make sense for her to manage a physical location across the country. Also, when it comes to capitalism, people say this by tweeting from a device they bought and on a private platform selling user data to companies that will turn around and sell things to you. So this complaint is probably just a way to demolish the organizers rather than being constructive.

While publicly funded spaces like traditional libraries etc are so vital, I love to see these spaces created and managed by the community. This book club, like others (The Smart Brown Girl Book Club), offers ordinary people not only the space to discuss difficult topics, but also to equip themselves with community knowledge without going into debt to go to school. ‘university. College is invaluable, but still not accessible, while programs like these focus on accessibility.

(via Twitter, image: Noname Book Club and Noname)

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