Free Black Women’s Library is Curating Cultural Consciousness

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[Free Black Women’s Library]
OlaRonke Akinmowo: “Part of the purpose of the Free Black Women’s Library is to build community...Before the virus, we would gather together every month and focus on a different book, a different author, a different genre."
Photo: Twitter

The vision OlaRonke Akinmowo had when she started the Free Black Women’s Library in 2015 was radical in itself.

Her New York-based library pop-ups — in which attendees take a book written by a Black woman and leave a book by a Black woman — work to eradicate internalized stereotypes.

“There are a lot of different labels often attached to Black womanhood and the library really works to confront that narrative and show that Black women are not a monolith,” Akinmowo says.

“There’s so many different types of Black women. There’s lesbian, bisexual, Black trans women from London, Cuba, Jamaica. Blackness is global, Blackness is expansive. Black women are writing about mystery, science fiction, health and wellness, sexuality, politics, and finance. The library kind of represents and amplifies that idea.”

What started as a grassroots project has morphed into a movement. The events have taken place in barbershops, bars, art galleries, and cultural centers. Akinmowo’s literary collection has also grown into over 2,000 books by Black women. Although allowing readers to build intimate relationships with each other has always been its core mission, existing in the era of COVID-19 has introduced a new set of challenges for its founder.

“Part of the purpose of the Free Black Women’s Library is to build community, so running it has definitely been challenging because of Corona. Because of Corona, we’re not able to spend time with each other. Before the virus, we would gather together every month and focus on a different book, a different author, a different genre. So now we meet over Zoom and we have those same gatherings and really deep, beautiful conversations about books, about poetry, about Black feminism, about safety and protest, about health.”

Read the rest of this Patreon story here: https://blog.patreon.com/free-black-womens-library?utm_source=organic&ut...

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