Lansing woman opens bookstore with all black authors

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A Lansing woman says she’s filling a missing piece that’s needed in the Lansing Community, and that’s a bookstore full of African-American writers.

Nyshell Lawrence is the owner of Socialight Society Bookshop. A trip to a bookstore in 2017 sparked her new idea, and in the middle of a pandemic, she brought that idea.

Just 4 years ago Lawrence noticed something was missing in Lansing.

“My husband took me on a date to a local bookstore and when I saw the section that was dedicated to women of color, it was so small. I felt really disappointed, I felt unseen and uncelebrated,” said Lawrence, owner in Socialight Society Bookshop.

She says she didn’t want anyone else to feel the way she felt.
“We walk in so many spaces that we are the minority and I just think it’s really important for us to be able to have a place where we can go and say, this is somewhere where I belong. I see women that look like me,” said Lawrence.

This month Lawrence opened her very own bookstore Socialight Society Bookshop.

“It made a lot of sense for us to bring the celebration to the center of the city. And now every time somebody walks out Washington Square, they know that there’s a space where black women are being celebrated,” said Lawrence. “Women are coming in, simply to say thank you. They’re amazed to see so many books written by black authors,” she continued.

From local to well-known authors and from poetry books to children’s books.
“I’m a mother of four daughters. So I know for a fact when they pick up a book and they see a little girl that looks like them or they see a boy that represents somebody in their class. It means so much it’s so impactful,” she said.

Lawrence says her bookstore is a safe space for anyone.
“Everyone is invited. Everyone is welcome, they’re stories that everyone can relate to,” she said.

It’s also a place she’s proud of.
“For an idea to be in the Notes app in your phone one day and then like the next day, you’re in a shared space where people are coming in. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s bigger than what I could have imagined,” she said.

Right now Lawrence is sharing the space with another business in Downtown Lansing, and she’s saving up to move somewhere else. She’s also raising money to create a free community library for children of color. For more information about Socialight Society Bookstore visit their website here.

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