I still remember the feeling I had when I learned that Black Images Book Bazaar was closing. The sense of loss for me was tantamount to losing a close friend or family member because for years the owners, Ashore Toishwe and Emma Rodgers, have been a source of inspiration and support for me and the community, as well as to authors around the world.
I was so disappointed to hear about the closing of the store where I purchased my books, artwork, cards and more, and where I hosted my talk show on KKDA-AM with a number of authors, including Sister Souljah, Akosua Buseo, and Susan Taylor.
There was still hope though, because Jokae's African American Books was still around and thriving. It was there where I greeted authors like Denise Nicholas, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray. And I hosted my show there, too.
Unfortunately, however, I received word recently that Jokae's would be closing in October.
Much like Black Images, Jokae's owners have given so much to this community and to authors. The Pettis Family, like Emma and Ashira, worked tirelessly to provide a venue for new and seasoned writers to hold their book signings and showcase their works.
There was a time when several authors would stop through Dallas on the regular. Sure times have changed and we've been dealing with tough economic times but some of the choices we have made could have helped save some very important businesses, like Jokae's.
When Black Images announced its closing, folks flocked to the Wynnewood Shopping Center to patronize the store. If only they had been regular shoppers.
Interestingly there were people who would drive across town to save one or two dollars on a book! Did they think about their gas spent trying to save a buck by going to a bookstore chain?
Much like Black Images, Jokae's fought the elements, namely the larger bookstore chains, WalMart and Amazon.com. Folks looking for a bargain bypassed spending a few extra dollars by shopping at an establishment "for us and by us." So, their dollars left our community along with their consciousness.
Still, Jokae's was able to stay afloat with help from its framing business and even a move to a smaller location.
Yet, there were challenges and unfortunately those challenges lead us to today and the impending closure.
Thankfully we still have Pan African Connection Bookstore and Resource Center and the bookstore at the African American Museum in Dallas and in Fort Worth, there's Dock Bookshop.
These establishments are so important to our community.. My feeling of loss is also compounded by a feeling that maybe I could have done more. Sure I spent when I could, shared information in my various venues and wrote about Jokae's. And Jokae's deserved more support; as do our other establishments.
The owners have been good corporate citizens. They have supported our schools and organizations, but still the reciprocity has not been as it should have been.
Sadly this is the case with many of our Black-owned businesses.
This madness has to stop. We have to realize the beauty in supporting our own. This isn't an "anti-anything" position, this is a "pro-you" philosophy that I am advocating.
Show Jokae's some love. Visit the store at 3223 W. Camp Wisdom Road, across from Southwest Center Mall in Dallas.
Also, make a commitment to do better!
Had a great Super Viewing for the Steve Harvey Show at Elaine's Kitchen! The food was great and the company was greater! You still have time to participate. Text NBC5 to 66502 and then vote for the Don't Believe the Hype Foundation. You could win $1500 or an IPAD. And tune in to Steve Harvey weekdays at 2p.m. on NBC5.
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