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Rachel Cargle’s New ‘Elizabeth’s Bookshop’ Features Zero Cisgender Heterosexual Male Authors

by Angela Andaloro

Rachel Cargle has been one of the many voices people have heralded in recent discussions of race. Her nuanced tackling of these conversations has made her an appreciated and valuable figure in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rachel is a writer, an academic, and an activist. She’s cultivated an immense following for her frank commentary on dismantling racism and systems of oppression.

Rachel has put together all kinds of educational tools to start conversations and encourage critical thinking. Her latest project is an expansion of that work into both physical and digital spaces. Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre is physically based in Rachel’s hometown of Akron, Ohio.

“Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre is an innovative literacy center designed to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices,” the online store states. The shop boasts a diverse catalog composed of own voices’ narratives from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers. The shop hopes to reach different audiences and provide materials that cater to their different pursuits in educating and enriching themselves.

Rachel Cargle has made a name for herself for her thorough and nuanced conversations about race. Rachel is both artist and revolutionary, making her stance known through storytelling, teaching, and critical discourse. Through these mediums, she’s reached an immense number of people.

Rachel has developed and curated a community called The Great Unlearn. Launched in May, Rachel provides self-paced, self-priced syllabi to facilitate learning outside the white lens. The Great Unlearn has over 500,000 followers on Instagram, with access to further materials available through Patreon.

Rachel is now expanding her reach with her latest project. Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre is a brick-and-mortar store set to open in Akron, Ohio, when public health regulations allow it. The online space opened earlier this month.

“Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre is an innovative literacy center designed to amplify and celebrate marginalized voices,” the shop bio reads.

“Our catalog highlights, promotes, amplifies, celebrates, and honors the work of writers who are often excluded from traditional cultural, social and academic canons. Through curated collections of own voices’ narratives, Elizabeth’s seeks to educate and re-shape the lens of readers as they see themselves and how they view the world.”

“Founded by Akron native, Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Elizabeth’s is a manifestation of her passions as an activist and author. Equal parts bookshop and writing center, Elizabeth’s is committed to contributing to Akron’s vibrant economic resurgence as a safe gathering space rooted in the values of community, curiosity, justice, and joy,” it continues.

The bookshop has amassed over 60,000 followers on Instagram in just a few short weeks. A percentage of all sales from Elizabeth’s will go to The Loveland Foundation.

The Loveland Foundation is another labor of love for Rachel. The nonprofit helps women of color gain access to mental health services.

“Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls,” its mission reads.

“Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Through Elizabeth’s, Rachel is continuing to examine systemic racism as it exists in different areas. For those who are trying to learn more about existing systems and solutions for the issues they present, Rachel offers a curated reading list called #Revolution Reading List.

“The events that are unfolding amongst us aren’t new to our people. The fight for the revolution must take place in several places including our minds. Rachel E. Cargle has curated a booklist that will better help you understand and prepare for the revolution!”

Rachel also has a number of other curated lists available for readers. She shares her own favorite picks of the moment. Currently, that includes A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross and City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Elizabeth’s also holds reading lists related to Rachel’s syllabi for The Great Unlearn. In June, those titles include Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century by Charles King and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. May’s titles are also still available on a separate reading list.

LGBTQ writers and perspectives also get their own reading list. “We stand together to help marginalized voices celebrate and honor their contributions to the world of literacy. Enjoy a variety of writing styles and perspectives from our LGBTQ authors, curators, and community,” reads the list’s description.

The list includes We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown.