Southern Woman’s Bookstore: A Feminist, Antiracist, LGBTQ Bookstore Redefining “Southern” for Marginalized People

Dear Readers,

I am pleased and proud to introduce you to a group of brilliant, talented women, who (like a few of our new contributors) come from the Southern United States. It has been wonderful getting to know about the work they are doing, and to collaborate with them from afar. This article is being published in exchange for Fabulously Feminist’s support of Femme Fest, which I encourage you all the check out ASAP. Daisy, Darci & Patience are impassioned, powerful and courageous. I personally look forward to what I hope is a long-sustaining relationship with this group of activists from afar, and yet within our very own USA.

We (Daisy Salinas, Darci McFarland, Patience Osume) are activists who are currently fund-raising to open Southern Woman’s Bookstore, a nonprofit bookstore and community center located in Denton, Texas.

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Left to right: Daisy Salinas, Darci McFarland, Patience Osume

Southern Woman’s Bookstore will be the 13th feminist bookstore in the nation and one of the only existing feminist bookstores in the South. We are taking on this project with the help of our local North Texas community as well as feminists, antiracists, LGBTQ activists, bibliophiles, artists, and educators from across the nation and the world.

Our bookstore believes in honoring diverse books and zines written by women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals, because we feel that marginalized voices, as these, need to be more widely represented and accessible to the community.

Southern Woman’s Bookstore also reflects our passion for social justice causes, because it will also provide a safe cultural community-oriented center where the community can engage with progressive artists. The community center will include artistic events (film screening, musical & visual art shows, open mics) and consciousness raising workshops. We are interested in engaging with artists of the community, because we believe that art is a powerful tool that can be used to tell our stories, encourage critical thinking, and transform society.

As we have been asked by several folks why we chose the name “Southern Woman’s Bookstore,” we felt it was important to explore this question.

We are aware that the “South” or Southern U.S, geographically located in the south east of the United States, has several negative connotations.

The word “Southern” takes us back to the horrifying history of the American South— of the subjugation and enslavement of Black Americans and the removal and murder of Native Americans, (which also occurred in the North).

“Southern” takes us back to the Confederacy, the seven slave states in the South whose economy and politics was based on slavery.

“Southern” takes us back to Jim Crow segregation, lynchings, horrific discrimination of people of color on social, political, and economic levels.

“Southern” makes us think of the new New Jim Crow segregation that continues today in this country, especially in the South.

“Southern” makes us think of the criminalization and incarceration of people of color.

“Southern” makes us think of the women in the South who do not have access to reproductive resources.

“Southern” makes us think of the sexual and domestic violence that disproportionately affects those living in the South.

“Southern” makes us think of the undocumented immigrants who are shot at the border, criminalized, sexually assaulted, separated from their families, and deported.

“Southern” makes us think of hate crimes and institutional homophobia & transphobia being committed again queer, trans*, and gender non-conforming people.

“Southern” makes us think of the hostile anti-Muslim attacks on Islamic centers and Mosques and others acts of discrimination against Muslims.

“Southern” makes us think of the conservative lawmakers that reinforce discrimination and inequality against marginalized people in both overt and covert ways.

This list of what might cross our minds when we hear the word “Southern” is not all encompassing and does not end here.

But what if our home is located in a red Southern state? What can we do to change our present social milieu from repeating mistakes of the past that have occurred and continue to occur in the South?

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Left to right: Darci McFarland, Patience Osume, Daisy Salinas

Living in the South is not a monolith. Many of us are not conservative, and are instead radically building ways to resist oppression within a geographic location that desperately needs a social transformation.

We believe that Southern Woman’s Bookstore and Community Center can begin a dialogue for change by redefining “Southern” for marginalized people living in the South who are fighting against bigotry and enacting social change on various levels.

Considering that the racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, transphobic, and Islamaphobic Southern laws and Southern lawmakers that exist do not reflect our beliefs, Southern communities can be transformed into places that challenge the status quo and reflect our own stories. For us, Southern Woman’s Bookstore offers this possibility.

This land was once Indigenous and

Darci

Patience

 

The South desperately needs radical organizations, programs, nonprofits sectors, and other spaces to combat the social injustice that exists here and to create safe spaces to share our knowledge, celebrate our art, and educate one another.

We strongly believe that Southern Woman’s Bookstore & Community Center can offer a safe space for people of all identities to build bridges and unite through books, zines, knowledge, art, and activism.

It is up to us to change the South for our generation and the next, and with your help, we can get started.

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Every donation to Southern Woman’s Bookstore & Community Center will help make a difference. Please consider learning more and donating here: http://www.gofundme.com/southernwomansbookstore

Link Love:

A Southern Woman’s Bookstore Manifesto

BECAUSE we need a safe-space to exist and flourish in the ever oppressive white-supremacist, hetero-normative, capitalist patriarchy.*

BECAUSE we need to see ourselves in print.

BECAUSE we need to see names like ours on the shelves.

BECAUSE we need books that speak to us and articulate our experiences.

BECAUSE we need more than one small corner of one shelf of feminist lit and social justice texts in big, chain bookstores.

“BECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to us that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways.”*

BECAUSE we believe in the power of education.

BECAUSE we believe in the importance of community building.

BECAUSE we believe in the power of art and political activism.

BECAUSE we believe in the conservation of marginalized knowledge, culture, and social justice.

BECAUSE of all of these things, because of you, we are creating Southern Woman’s Bookstore.

With your help, we can create an alternative.

With your help, we can change our world.

 

Footnotes:

*Reconceptualized bell hooks’s term “white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.”

*RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO – Kathleen Hannah

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  1. […] spaces, organizations and projects we discover along the way. Back in November we introduced you to A Southern Woman’s Bookstore – the 13th bookstore in the entire United States. This month, we are proud to feature Modern Times […]

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