Black Women’s Lit finds a home in Lansing

The Socialight Society focuses its mission on sharing stories from black women.

The Socialight Society focuses its mission on story sharing by Black Women.Screenshot: Socialight Society

If you pull over to Barnes and Rubble, there’s a new bookstore in the heart of Lansing, Michigan. Meet Nyshell Lawrence, a Lansing local who prefers romantic strolls through the aisles of bookstores to most other date options. Especially one evening while browsing with her husband in 2017, Lawrence found that her excitement subsided as she scoured the countless titles that were written by non-black authors.

Without making a purchase decision, she soon decided to take matters into her own hands.

“We spent the rest of the evening talking about how we could create something for Black women that would celebrate us,” said Lawrence The Lansing State Journal. “That’s when the idea and the concept of the Socialight Society arose and arose.”

“Socialight Society is a community-centered creative space specifically aimed at black women who are often not represented in traditional bookstores.” The website describes.

The organization set out to celebrate black women and black literature through local events and a virtual book club, with a monthly black author pick. The selection ranges from classic to contemporary and is selected from a list compiled by Lawrence himself. She had so much fun curating these reading lists that she eventually started buying books in order to sell them, a website that provides independent booksellers access to inventory at wholesale prices.

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Space for new bookstores at pop-up events like this Social sloth cafe, the AfterGlow market, and the Lansing Mall, the Socialight Society quickly expanded from a small book club to a full-blown retail store.

And starting this weekend, Lawrence is proud to announce that their black-lit micro-shop has found a permanent home at Soul Nutrition, a tea and smoothie shop in downtown Lansing. On Saturday, November 13th, the Socialight Society is holding an exclusive VIP reception in honor of the opening. Thereafter, the opening times are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A famous quote from the black American writer Toni Morrison goes: “If there’s a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written, you have to be the one to write it.” Inspired by the words of Morrison, Lawrence labels you recently published post about the store Instagram page with the following statement. “Socialight Society is the bookstore I’ve never seen before, so I’m creating it.”

With the help of non-profit Dreams and visions manifested, founded by Kim Milton-Mackey, the Socialight Society was able to raise several thousand dollars in funds for the stationary location. While the reception and subsequent public hours continue as planned this weekend, the store is still about $ 4,000 below its target of $ 10,000 and Donations are still accepted.

Lawrence hopes to literarily represent not only the black writers we know and love, but also the local Lansing writers they seek and want to make room on their shelves. Socialight Society focuses the literary lens on black books in a landscape that was once absent but is now full of opportunity.

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