The Hood Librarian: NoName’s Book Club

 Trinity Goppy | Staff Writer

Chicago-born rapper and activist NoName started her book club to uplift the voices of people of color in an online and in real life community after an exchange with a few Twitter fans. After going viral with 5,000 retweets, NoName’s Book Club was born in the summer of 2019.

“It was very spontaneous and impromptu. I didn’t really have a plan, but the feedback has been really crazy,” Noname told Essence. 

Each month, NoName highlights two books written by authors of color.

“I feel like there’s always been a stigma on Black people and reading just because historically, we were boxed out of that process,” she said. “I’m trying to break apart the stereotype that n— don’t read because we definitely do,” NoName told Essence. 

Last year, NoName opened the Book Club: Radical Hood Library headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The headquarters will provide political education classes, book drives, a radical community library, food drives, book club meet-ups, tent drives, free art shows, free movie screenings, and more according to Complex.

NoName’s inspiration comes from her mother, the first black woman to own a bookstore in Chicago. The bookstore was called Afro Central Bookstore and was run for 20 years by NoName’s mother until it closed in 2008. 

According to Essence, the experience of being mentored by scholars of Black thought and cultural critique who would stop and talk to her when browsing the store shaped how Noname sees the world today. 

“It really helped my development and helped me to be as prideful and as strong-minded as I am when it comes to the way I view my blackness,” NoName told Essence. 

One of NoName’s goals is to promote Black-owned bookstores that are local and increase library usage for the underprivileged, opening a book space focused on reading material for Black liberation and knowledge. Currently, there are 12 book club chapters across the country, in cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and more. 

NoName’s Book Club launched a prison program that sends monthly book picks to POC who are incarcerated all over the country. To fight against the Prison Industrial Complex, the book club gives free resources to those behind bars, according to NoName’s book club website. 

“I believe the book club is a good way to share author’s voices and stories. I appreciate that they focus on uplifting the voice of POC. It is a chance to explore different experiences. This is also a unique way to connect with those who are incarcerated,” first-year kinesiology major Tyshona Littlejohn-Russ said. 

The Radical Hood Library centralizes the idea to shop at POC bookstores. On NoName’s site, several directories locate local bookstores in your city that focus on black content. 

“We really encourage our readers to shop at these POC bookstores,” NoName said. “It’s like a big f— you to Amazon and the FBI,” NoName told Trevor Noah on the Daily Show. 

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