Tag Archives: help

Marcus Books of San Francisco Evicted—Should We Care?

Back in the the summer of 2013, I joined the fight to help save Marcus Books.  My motivation was not solely limited to saving a single bookstore.  I’ve never been to Marcus Books.  I imagine most of you reading this haven’t either.  I suspect more than a few of you never heard of the store and don’t care whether is closes or not.

While Marcus Books situation is sad and unfortunate, the closure of bookstores is being repeated at an increasingly alarming rate across the country.  From my perspective, the fight is not just about saving one store, it is about saving all the stores—and websites too, including this one.

Will you support independent, Black owned, bookstores and websites, or will we willingly relinquish the few that remain?  Will we sit idly by while complete control over which stories and information about our community, is handed over to some corporate entity concerned with only with maximizing profit?

The following was published, in January 2014, by Tamiko, Greg and Karen Johnson, co-owners of Marcus Books in San Francisco.  They ask that we share their story.

An Open Letter From the Johnson Family

rallyformarcusbooksMarcus Books of San Francisco Evicted

Dear Supporters,

It was difficult to know what to tell you about our struggle to stay in our building, its winding path of lawyers and judges and protests and promises, hopes and gravities made it difficult to report our status on a curved road. But the locks to the door of 1712 Fillmore Street have been changed by the current property owner.

Marcus Books missed a couple of rent payments (not such a rare thing considering that at the same time the largest US banks and even our government asked taxpayers to give them hundreds of billions of dollars of assistance). However, the mortgage holder, PLM Lender, foreclosed on the building that housed Marcus Books of San Francisco since 1981. It was sold to the Sweis family (realtors and owners of Royal Taxi in San Francisco). The Johnson family (co-owners of Marcus Books of San Francisco) have been trying to buy the building back for a year and half.

The Sweis bought this building in a bankruptcy “auction” (apparently they were the only bidder) for $1.6 million. The Johnsons offered $1.8 million, the Sweis set their price at $3.20 million, hoping to double their purchase price after a few months ownership. After some public outrage resulting in public protests against the Sweis, a negotiation brought their asking price down to $2.6 million, adding a million dollar profit to their purchase without adding any improvements to the property and adding a stipulation that the entire $2.6 million be raised within 90 days.

Marcus Books supporters, including the local chapter of the NAACP; ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment; Japantown activists; Westside Community Services; Julian Davis, our fearless legal council; Carlos Levexier’s “Keep It Lit” campaign committee; local literary community including writers and other bookstores; people from all over the world: friends, family, customers, churches and unions took a stand against the bulldozing of community. Individuals, unions and churches donated $25,000. The Community Land Trust of San Francisco garnered loan pledges of $200,000 and Westside Community Services offered a loan of $1.60 million. Though by any standards that would have been more than enough for a down payment, the Sweiss refused the $1.85 million start and filed for eviction.

Concurrently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution requiring every division of city government make it a priority that they each use their “powers” to help Marcus Books stay in its location. In addition, and after 5 years of efforts by John Templeton (the leader in Black California history), and Greg Johnson (co-owner of Marcus Books of San Francisco), London Breed and Malia Cohen, two San Francisco Supervisors, initiated the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous vote granting landmark status.

With the numerous speeches of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee stating his commitment to righting the wrongs of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency’s slaughter of the thriving African American Fillmore District, we at Marcus Books believed the City would take some affirmative action on our behalf, since Marcus Books is the only surviving Black business since the Redevelopment devastation. Maybe that support is around the next bend? Well the locks have been changed, the cavalry is not in sight and it’s time to pack up the books and store them till we find another space.

You might ask yourself, why bother? Materialism rules the day. That is not news. More often than not we take it for granted that the “bottom line” is the only line worth respecting, though it respects no one. This is a common conception, but not right. Right is the vertical line that runs through all levels: from it’s spiritual top to its earthly roots. This verticality is manifested only by integrity. Integrity defies gravity in its perpetual longing for truth. Millions of people have been put out of their homes by bottom-line-feeders. It’s common, but it’s not okay, now or at any other time. Sometimes you just have to take a stand. Integrity is a verb.

In 1970 I had a vision bout rebirth. A segment of that vision informs this struggle. In this particular scene, the spirit is climbing the Tree of Humanity, being lifted higher and higher by those entwined in The Tree. The spirit never steps on anyone’s face or heart. It just carries their dreams up with it. Because it is growing towards rebirth, it gets younger with each step up. Though there are thousands of supporters at the bottom of The Tree, there are fewer at the top and the helping hands are fewer and far between. At the top of The Tree, at the stratum of the clouds, quantity has morphed in into quality. Here a storm of wind and rain rages, lightning strikes and a mad dog spirals up The Tree, snapping at the heels of the now, infant spirit. Teetering on a limb, the spirit sees a man face down in the mud at the bottom of The Tree. Seems he got there from letting go of his faith in The Tree. The surrounding clouds urge the spirit fall.

Cross Section
The rumors, that were whispered,
Here, the silence screams,
And branches battle shadows
To defend their dreams.

Where Black is cut in pieces,
Can’t hold myself together.
Time cuts me down,
Life me brought up,
But lead me to this weather.

The Time says, ‘Fall
To soulless ease.
To struggle is disgrace.
The gravity will grant you peace,
And hide your shameful face.’

But I am born of honor:
Descendent from above.
My Father’s name is Wisdom
And my Mother’s name is Love.
And I have strength of purpose.
That’s what my climb’s about.
As I’m cut off,
I will hold ON
And trustingly Black-out.”

(copyright 1997, Karen Johnson)

For the hundreds of people who have lent their time, money and prayers, we are truly grateful.
—Tamiko, Greg and Karen Johnson, co-owners Marcus Books of San Francisco

… to be continued
We will rise again in San Francisco

Mixed Race or Just Mixed Up? Children’s Books Provide Answers

I noticed a surge in the number of books I sold, over the last two months (see best-selling books list), that dealt with issues of mixed race people.   Forty percent of the fiction, best-selling, titles addressed this complicated and often sensitive issue.  The bulk of these titles were targeted to children.

interacial-african-americansThe concept of “race” has no basis in science and is arbitrarily applied.   Unfortunately, because of America’s twisted concept of race, many so called “mixed-raced” children suffer from problems of self-esteem due to confusion over identity and belonging.

In the United States, a significant portion the population is mixed.   Which race you belong to has nothing to do with your genetics.   Even more absurdly, the “one drop” rule which asserts that you are black if you have a black person in your ancestry.  As a result, Tiger Woods who is 1/4 African-American, 1/4 Thai, 1/4 Chinese, 1/8 Native American and 1/8 Dutch is simply Black.

According to a 2009 study, by Genome Biology, the average African-American has 21.9% European ancestry.   Approximately 10 percent of the people in the U.S., who self-identify as African-American, have at least 50 percent European ancestry.  Can you imagine the public’s reaction if our President, Barack Obama, decided to embrace the race of his mother and self-identify as white?

Interracial marriage only became fully legal in all the States of the U.S. in 1967!  However, a 2012 report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 10% of all marriages, by opposite sex partners, in 2010, involved people of different races.  This represented an increase of 28% from 2000.

As the number of mixed race people increases in the U.S., due to the increase in mixed race marriages, the need for books on the subject, particularly for children, will become increasingly important.   These books are not just for mixed race children, all children will benefit from them.

I Am Mixed I Am Mixed
by Garcelle Beauvais (Author) , Sebastian A. Jones (Author) , Joshua Cozine (Editor) , James C. Webster (Illustrator)

Series: I Am Book (Book 1)
Hardcover: 52 pages
Publisher: Stranger Comics; 1st edition (August 7, 2013)

Jay and Nia are the children of two worlds, and as they will discover, they can enjoy the best of both. From Mommy’s jazz beats to Daddy’s classical piano, we will dance with the twins through a book that explores what it is to be of mixed ancestry, proving that a child is more than the sum of their parents.

black is brown is tanblack is brown is tan
by Arnold Adoff (Author) , Emily Arnold McCully (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Amistad (January 6, 2004)

Brown-skinned momma, the color of chocolate milk and coffee pumpkin pie, whose face gets ginger red when she puffs and yells the children into bed. White-skinned daddy, not white like milk or snow, lighter than brown, With pinks and tiny tans, whose face gets tomato red when he puffs and yells their children into bed. Children who are all the colors of the race, growing up happy in a house full of love. This is the way it is for them; this is the way they are, but the joy they feel extends to every reader of this book.

Black is brown is tan is a story poem about being, a beautiful true song about a family delighting in each other and in the good things of the earth.

black-white-just-rightBlack, White, Just Right!
by Marguerite W. Davol (Author) , Irene Trivas (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (January 1, 1993)

Celebrating the differences between a mother and father that blend to make the perfect combination in their daughter. An African American mother and a white father are only one reason why this family is “just right.”

Mixed Blessing: A Children's Book About a Multi-Racial FamilyMixed Blessing: A Children’s Book About a Multi-Racial Family
by Marsha Cosman (Author) , Kyra Kendall (Illustrator)

Paperback: 26 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 6, 2012)

A young son discovers he does not have exactly the same skin color as either parent. He questions this revelation and his parents explain using animals during a visit to the zoo. A candid look at children of mixed race and multiculturalism learning about their identity for the first time through a colorful illustrative story. The author uses her own experience to write this book about children questioning their appearance and acceptance in society. A fun learning book for any age which will aid in the prevention of bullying and the acceptance of differences.

Mixed Like MeMixed Like Me
by Gina Golliday-Cabell (Author)

Paperback: 26 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 10, 2012)

Mixed Like Me is a delightful children’s book addressing a most important building block in a child’s development: the element of positive self-esteem and pride. With the prevalence of blended racial and cultural differences in our society, children of various ethnic backgrounds often question the differences in appearances among themselves, their friends, and other family members. This charming children’s book reinforces an interracial child’s self-image, identity, and value, regardless of what they have heard or been led to believe, and will help to develop unity in their family, community, and the world, one child at a time.

Mixed Me: A Tale of a Girl Who is Both Black and White Mixed Me: A tale of a girl who is both black and white
by Tiffany Catledge (Author) , Anissa Riviére (Illustrator)

Paperback: 34 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 11, 2013)

Little Mixie wonders why everyone wants to know WHAT she is. Isn’t it obvious? She is clearly a human being. And anyway, isn’t WHO she is what matters most? Coming from a family with a black dad and a white mom makes her extra special, and maybe a little different too. But different is good. Mixie embraces her uniqueness and determines to be the best “Me” she can be.

Meet China Robinson

Chanel Iman & China RobinsonOn the subject of mixed race, meet China Robinson.  She is the parent and former manager of super-model Chanel Iman.  Ms. Robinson, is half Korean and half African-American.   She never she learned who her parents were.  She was born during the Korean War, orphaned and labeled a “War Baby.”  She was adopted and raised in Los Angeles by an African-American couple.  She was teased throughout her childhood, called “ching-chong-china the girl with no eyes,” only to learn, at the age of 13, that she was indeed half Korean.

In her memoir From Seoul To Soul a Robinson describes her struggle with an identity crisis because of her Asian features. She overcomes and embraces her lost past, when her supermodel daughter takes her back to her roots in an unexpected yet victorious style.

In the video below, China Robinson describes here story.

Share Info from Indie Black Owned Websites

Add Huria Search Resources to Your Website or Blog

Huria Search was created in reaction to the current trend in search results that favor deep pocketed advertisers and large corporations over independent websites. Huria Search

While this trend affects all independent websites, the impact on Black websites is more severe.  As a result, some of the best content generated for and by the Black community is buried too deep in traditional search results to be easily discovered.

Today, not only can you discover great content from independent websites more easily, you can help others do the same, with a growing set of databases and tools from Huria Search.

Huria Search Engine
Huria Search allows you to quickly search hundreds of Black owned websites (including all of the sites in the databases below) free of advertisements!

The Top Black Websites
Here you will find a list of the most popular websites targeted to Black people on the world wide web.

Database of Independent Newspapers
A database of 100+ Black owned newspapers

Database of Independent Bookstores
A database 100+ Black owned booksellers across the United States

The Power List
The only National Bestsellers List of books read by African Americans

Book Sites
A database of the top Black book websites

The Book Look Video Program
Popular online video book program which can be added to your site.  New videos are served to you about twice a month

A list of 50+ Black owned magazines (a sharable database coming soon)

You are free, indeed encouraged, to share any and all of the information on Huria Search.  To paraphrase a conscious Brother I know, “This information must be shared”.

Learn more on about how to support Huria Search’s efforts.

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