Word Up is proud to be in community with activists and organizers that stand up and defend Black lives. Our current storefront, located at the corner of Amsterdam and 165th St., is in the southern part of Washington Heights—in a building owned by the nonprofit CLOTH, founded by Lucille Bulger, a Black woman who was frustrated with the lack of resources for Black people in her community; two blocks from the historic Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated; nine blocks from the venerable Sister’s Uptown Bookstore, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in New York City; and three blocks from the apartment building where Jose “Kiko” Garcia was murdered by police, leading to rebellions throughout Washington Heights in 1992.
The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Maurice Gordon, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Jamel Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Allan Feliz, Santiago “Chago” Villanueva, and far too many others are part of the more than 400-year-old history of police brutality and other forms of racist violence against Black people in this country.
Big ups/much love to those who have been on the ground and rallying together around strong calls to action. Legislators are pushing for the Safer NY Act. In Minneapolis, they are discussing disbanding the police. Millions of people have taken to the streets.
That said, this work is ongoing.
Our commitment as a collective and as a community space over the last nine years has been one of continuous education and open discussion. We are wrestling together with how systems can be reimagined through defunding the police, demanding reparations, ending prison culture and the carceral state, and building better accountability and housing and healthcare systems. We want to be a part of building a more equitable future.
Below are some ways you can join us:
We are donating 20% of our profits from book sales at WordUpBooks.com from now until the end of July to COVID Bailout, an NYC bail fund for the medically vulnerable, and the Survived and Punished NY Mutual Aid Working Group, which supports incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence. We also ask you to consider donating directly to the UpliftNYC COVID-19 Emergency Care Relief Fund, which provides emergency food and care needs for neighbors in Washington Heights/Inwood.
Also, we want to clarify ownership and specify.
Some have been linking to us in social media lists of Black-owned businesses, so we want to clarify: Word Up is not a Black-owned business. We are a nonprofit business, operated by a racially diverse and locally based collective and board who are committed to creating a space that resists traditional hierarchies, embraces cooperative practices, and welcomes difficult dialogues.
Please check here for a list of Black-owned bookstores across the country. And here for a list of Black literary organizations. We particularly ask that you consider financially supporting our longtime partners Kweli Journal, founded and led by Laura Pegram, and Literary Freedom Project, founded and led by Ron Kavanaugh.
Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you’re marching, please heed these tips for safe protesting and make sure you know your rights. Nos vemos pronto.