Metro Detroit bookstore's sales surge as readers search for books on race (reading list included)

Closing her doors hit her business hard, but the owner of a Southfield bookstore has been overwhelmed with support from the community looking to learn more about what her store specializes in - African American culture.

“Devastating for my business - just flop, basically. Hello, anybody there?” said Janeice Haynes.

Janeice co-owns Detroit Book City in Southfield with her husband Reginald. 

She set up shop online, but things were still difficult. Then - George Floyd’s death at the hands of police sparked protests nationwide and calls for an end to racial injustice. Suddenly -- she was overcome with orders from a newer audience.

“I’m going to be honest with you - it’s Caucasion people and they’re calling about books on anti-racism, how to eradicate racism, and I am so ecstatic I want to cry," she said.

She says people are calling around the clock for recommendations - and she’s got plenty, such as "Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies" by Dick Gregory.

"He talks about the dark side of African Americans - and what we went through the last 400 years. There's no seasoning on this, seasoning salt - it's cut-throat," she said.

Or "Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance" by Mark Whitaker.

"Smoketown shows you the bright side of African Americans in the '40s and '50s, with Harlem music and New York with Billie Holiday," she said.

For anyone looking to expand their viewpoints, she says: “Get into a good book. You know, get in the substance of what people are thinking and what they know -- stats, history, facts -- and start looking at what some solutions are, start thinking about how you can be a change agent."

But most importantly, everyone is welcome at Detroit Book City.

“Our store is not designed for just African Americans. It’s designed for everyone and people who want to learn more about African Americans so they won’t have the prejudices, there won’t be racism, there won’t be biases, and they’ll notice that we’re all in the same likeness," she said.

Janeice’s Reading List:

  1. Walls Come Tumbling Down - Daniel Rachel
  2. Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation - John Freeman
  3. In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History - Mitch Landrieu
  4. The Age of Anger: A History of the Present - Pankaj Mishra
  5. We Do Our Part: Toward a Fairer and More Equal America - Charles Peters
  6. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellion - Gloria Steinem
  7. Class: A Guide Through the American Status System - Paul Fussel
  8. How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood - Jim Grimsley

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