‘A Place Where We Can Go and Say…I Belong’: Michigan Woman Opens Bookstore Celebrating Black Authors

A Michigan bookstore is giving Black authors the spotlight they have long deserved but often struggled to find.

Socialight Society bookstore is a microshop, a store located inside another store, in this case Soul Nutrition, where book curator Nyshell Lawrence has made it a priority to give Black authors, especially those who are female, a greater chance at being discovered. The shop is located in the bustling downtown district of Lansing where retail, food, entertainment and now book lovers all convene. 

Nyshell Lawrence. (Photo: Nick King/Lansing State Journal)

Despite the diverse crowd flocking to the downtown area, Lawrence said she noticed there was something missing about four years ago: a place where Black authors were celebrated and not just given a shelf or two among a sea of books by non-Black authors.

“We walk in so many spaces that we are the minority and I just think it’s really important for us to be able to have a place where we can go and say, this is somewhere where I belong,” she told WLNS.com. “I see women that look like me.”

Reading the works of Black authors, and others who naturally weave culturally diverse characters into their stories, has long captivated Lawrence. Her love for stories in which she could see herself and the heritage of the Black community in dates back to adolescence when she became enveloped in Alex Haley’s 700-page novel “Roots.”

“I know in second grade I could not understand all the complex things that happened in the story, but just the idea that I had this huge book written about Black people was major for me,” Lawrence explained to the Lansing State Journal in early November. Now, the mother to four daughters, Lawrence says representation is even more paramount not just for Black women, but also little girls.

Read full story a Atlanta Black Star here.

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