An avowedly feminist bookstore in Portland, OR, is closing its doors this week, saying it is unable to disentangle itself from a foundational ideology of “white supremacy.”
In an online letter to its clients and supporters, the “In Other Words” bookstore announced earlier this month that by July 1 it would be shutting down its operation after 25 years in business as “a resource to Portland Feminist communities.”
“The current volunteers and board members stepped into and took over a space that was founded on white, cis feminism (read: white supremacy),” the message states. “It’s really difficult, actually, impossible, for us to disentangle from that foundational ideology.”
The letter says that volunteers and board members of In Other Words have tried to reform and re-envision the organization, but have been unable to do so, which is “a very real reminder that reform doesn’t work.”
“Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism cannot be reformed and ever serve the people. Abolition is the goal,” the message declares.
The bookstore also acknowledges that other factors besides “white supremacy” contributed to the shop’s closing, namely “increased expenses and the lack of funds, volunteers, and board members,” which it attributes to “the cycle of community spaces in capitalism.”
One might be tempted to infer that perhaps the bookstore is closing because few care enough about the shop’s mission to give financial support and time to sustain it.
Yet even “if funds poured in, and masses of people showed up in response to this announcement, we would not continue our tenure here,” the message pronounces.
The members of In Other Words “do not come to this decision lightly,” the letter states. “We are grieving.”
The shop’s owners invite their clients to stop by and help out with the closing process.
“If you cannot physically join us in closing and you would like to help, we still need funding to help us make it through this closing process,” they note.
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