Native South Side Chicago rapper Noname recently unveiled a passion project to the world, “Noname’s Book Club,” a club working to serve the Black community and other under-resourced people to get minds intrigued and in the practice of reading.
Noname is a spoken word poet and rapper widely known for her artistic twist on hip-hop. She is also a record producer and has been working as an artist and producer since 2013. She came across her love for the art form by watching countless Def Jam Poetry videos on YouTube. Now, she shares her love for words and connecting with people through her new book club.
One of her purposes in creating this club was to combat the popularized notion that Black people don’t read. Noname wanted to tackle that stereotype head on and remind the world of Black intellect and that it is and always has been very much alive.
Each month, readers can visit the club’s website to discover what the new books are for the month. By creating a free account, readers can also chime in on the discussion forum. So far, people have posted questions and thought-provoking insights that makes for great discourse and community building. Noname has really tapped into a community of youth who seem excited for this space– young minds who perhaps once felt they couldn’t nerd out or publicly enjoy the comfort of a great book due to the stigmas that followed them for being Black. Many people swept Twitter excited about the club and what could come of it.
Justine (@blackberryjem), said “well I am overjoyed” and Daniel Davis said “My new summer hobby! I’m here for this.”
This month’s readings were chosen by rapper Earl Sweatshirt, formerly a part of music collective Odd Future. He chose “Faces and Masks: Memory of Fire” by Eduardo Galeano and “Faces in the Crowd” by Valeria Luiselli. Both Earl Sweatshirt and Noname are known wordsmiths; vocabulary has always been a major aspect of hip-hop and rap.
Noname was quoted by Essence magazine saying “They don’t infiltrate pop culture, hip-hop. I’m just trying to bridge the gap between those people and us, over here.” In saying “they,” Noname was referring to Black book clubs in academic spaces that seem to only invite other people Black in academia.
Noname’s mission is also to get people to support Black-owned bookstores. On the website, you can find a directory of Black-owned bookstores all across the nation from New York to Oakland. She encourages her club members to buy from these bookstores or others, and as an incentive, offers a 10% discount for the books in the stores. In the directory, she highlights Marcus Books in Oakland on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. They are famous for opening the first Black-owned bookstore in the nation in San Francisco’s Fillmore district in the 1960s.
Marcus Books expressed that they were pleased to be a part of her project, saying “Anything that gets people reading is great. It expands and broadens their horizons and understanding of the world they live in. It sounded like a good cause and she seemed very passionate, so we agreed to hold the books.”
If you’re an avid reader and need some new suggestions on some great books, join the club at nonamebooks.com. There will be a wide range of genres from a different network of bookworms to check out. There may also be a book meet up near Mills, so keep an eye out for the club events calendar.