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After raising more than $83,000 via GoFundMe, Asha Grant has procured a three-year lease for the future site of The Salt Eaters Bookshop at 302 E. Queen St. in her hometown of Inglewood. There, the shelves will be lined with titles featuring Black femme and non-binary characters, a demographic that was woefully lacking in the literature of Grant’s childhood.
“Last Fall, I began looking for spaces,” wrote Grant in her GoFundMe description. “It marked my first step in claiming [my] vision—a loving and inviting bookshop dedicated to prioritizing books, comics, and zines by and about Black women, girls, femmes and non-binary folks. A resting ground. A brave space. A Black place. A quiet nook to visit and read and print after school. Somewhere for the babies to have storytime. A place to nerd out in and be cool in and feel loved.”
Previously, that space was unfettered and flexible, held in tubs of books and craft supplies and carted from place to place in the back of Grant’s car via her Free Black Women’s Library initiative. Although supportive LA museums and businesses hosted Grant’s pop-up library, its popularity outgrew borrowed venues, necessitating a brick-and-mortar home.
“Over the past three months, I have been negotiating the terms for our lease. In full transparency, navigating the corporate commercial real estate world as a Black woman and first-time business owner has been a long, exhaustive, and often destabilizing process. But we here. We made it. And we didn’t do it alone,” wrote Grant on the bookstore’s Instagram page.
Along with the books shelved within, the bookstore will accommodate the meeting and ideas of “dreamers, seekers of knowledge, creatives, writers, community archivists, artists, change agents, and those invested in a liberation practice” upon its opening in February of 2021.
Toni Cade Bambara’s nonlinear 1980’s novel “The Salt Eaters” is a fitting namesake for the revolutionary site. Centered around a community of Black feminists and civil rights activists, all searching for the healing properties of salt, the work weaves through vignettes surrounding the theme of sanity and the process of becoming whole.
“‘The Salt Eaters’… provided my first in-depth, and, admittedly, destabilizing look into the murky waters of mental health for folks that looked like me and expanded my understanding of wholeness,” wrote Grant. “[Bambara’s] unwavering principles and ethics guide both my personal and professional endeavors, leading me here.”
A sampling of the future bookstore’s literary offerings can be viewed here.