AUSTIN, Texas — A recently enacted law concerning what subjects can be taught in Texas schools as well as pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott on the Texas Association of School Boards have limited teachers on topics including race and gender.
While some authors have had their books banned from schools because of Texas’ critical race theory law, Black Pearl Books is a place where cultural awareness is being celebrated.
Katrina Brooks and her husband Eric said their children inspired them to open the neighborhood bookstore.
“We would go to libraries. We would go to local bookstores. It was always difficult to find books that represented them, books with protagonists or characters that look like them,” Katrina explained.
Their customers appreciate their efforts and are also eager to find a diverse selection of books.
“We have people that come in that are mid-60s and they’re like, ‘I was never taught this,’” Katrina said.
Eric is working on setting up the bookstore’s banned book shelf. The shelf includes books that are being banned from public schools across the Lone Star State, some because they touch on certain race-related concepts.
“We, as a bookstore that promotes diversity, inclusion, and representation, want to make sure that these books are actually available to individuals,” Eric explained.
While Texas’ critical race theory law limits classroom lessons about race and gender, that doesn’t stop parents and educators from seeking access to the books.
“This is not simply a Texas issue. It’s happening across the country,” Eric shared. “And as individual titles are banned, quite frankly, sales spike as a result of that because people want to have access to what’s included in those particular titles.”
Katrina and Eric work hard to ensure Black Pearl Books is a place where cultural awareness is highlighted.
“When we think about representation, we think obviously Black history and making sure that we feel represented in our bookstore,” Eric said. “But we also understand what it feels like to not be represented in bookstores and so to that end, we roll in titles that focus on indigenous, we roll in AAPI titles, LGBTQ+ titles.”