What is a “Black” bookstore?

Initially reading Maisha T. Winn’s work I felt It may have been a stretch for me to digest, considering how intellectually challenging it seemed. Winn is obviously a high-level writer who is well versed in the history of African American culture and how it relates to young Black youth and there interaction with literature.

Pictured above is Otis Redding and A$AP Rocky

The song playing is “Sittin on” by A$AP Rocky, a rendition of Otis Redding’s original hit “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay”.

Otis Redding released this hit in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.

I believe the music and images are relevant to the readings because A$AP and Otis were/are both Black men who were/are not afraid to shake societal norms. From the readings, I gathered this was one of the many desired affects of culturally relevant curriculums on Black youth.

This idea of the “Culturally Relevant” classroom is new to me. This review, all though at times overwhelming, really helped me gain a new perspective on teaching my students literature in the future. It allowed me to see how vital it is to know your students deeply. Not just their names, really know who they are, and what makes them…. them. 

One of the limitations in Writing Instruction in the Culturally Relevant Classroom is the lack of a more nuanced discussion of what Paris (2012) refers to as a “culturally sustaining” pedagogy or a pedagogical stance that seeks to value a multiethnic and multilingual experience” (Winn 61) 

What this quote say’s to me is that we need to find ways to engage our students born of all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and realize that their cultural experiences highly impact how they learn, what they value, and how they are best motivated.


“Both Poppa Joe and Mama C could be framed as “freedom dreamers” or members of the Black radical tradition who dared to dream out loud about creating a world without racism, sexism, and classism” (Kelley 2003) 

“One of the most intense moments that I experienced with the Power Writers was one day when Poppa Joe did not feel as if his students were focused or taking their work as writers seriously. Poppa Joe took several minutes to remind students that the only numbers the United States wanted them to remember was their commitment numbers or prisoner numbers.” (Winn 64) 

I don’t feel this represents the words of someone who is dreaming of a world without racism. In fact, I think it is perpetuating the problem of pitting one race against another. When Poppa Joes students lost focus, he reminded them they need to focus because America wants them to fail… We need to be careful how we teach our students. Words have a big impact. Do we want our young Black students’ academic success being fueled by resentment? In my opinion I’d like it to be fueled by a desire to deeply understand material and grow as a human. Maybe there is some importance to this motivational methodology that I am missing, but that was my initial reaction upon reading this.  

2 thoughts on “What is a “Black” bookstore?

    1. Thank you for appreciating my work! I hear your point, and also understand the context of Poppa Joes quotes.

      With that said, I still disagree.

      I believe that there are much more effective ways to motivate students/people no matter their position in society.

      If (and I believe its a big if) motivating someone through the validation of their position as a victim of society provides the spark that is needed to set the student on the path to academic success or paying attention for that matter…

      wouldn’t we want them paying attention for reasons deeper than wanting to prove society wrong?

      Proving society wrong could potentially be an effective motivation strategy, I just don’t feel it is the foundation we want driving our students desire to learn.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: