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Black Lives Matter

Dear Kepler's community,

As America grapples with 400 years of systemic violence and harm towards Black Americans, our unequivocal stance is full-hearted support for the Black Lives Matter movement and protesters standing for equality and justice. We passionately condemn the hate and violence perpetrated on Black citizens, and insist on accountability from our institutions, our government and ourselves. 

Kepler's values diverse books, diverse literary programming, and discussions on equality, race and justice. This work has been our long commitment and is grounded in the peace activism of Roy Kepler, who founded Kepler’s 65 years ago. But with what is happening today across our country and around the globe, we need to look at how we can do more to stand with our community against racial inequality. 

As we do this work, we must first listen to Black writers like Bryan StevensonMorgan JerkinsIjeoma OluoRoxane GayJulie Lythcott-Haims and Jason Reynolds, who have spoken at Kepler’s. We have seen their writing and leadership resonate in our community, and we hope you will continue to turn to these writers and follow their voices as you participate in the call to build a more just world. 

Many of us attended the recent #KidLit4BlackLives online rally hosted by The Brown Bookshelf. The work of justice begins in families with young children, and continues for a lifetime. If you are looking for a resource for your children, we hope you will take the time to watch Jacqueline WoodsonElizabeth Acevedo, and Kwame Alexander speak directly to kids about racial justice. This video represents the best part of literature: the ability to connect us and drive us towards a better future.

We have curated collections that address racism and lift the voices of Black writers for adults and for kids on Keplers.com. As you wait for books to arrive at your homes, please turn to these writers online. We have been inspired by them, and hope you will be too.

Here’s what were committed to doing at Kepler’s:

  • We will work to provide our staff with tools and racial sensitivity training so they can better talk about these issues and books with customers looking for resources in our bookstore.
  • Throughout Kepler’s, we know we have work to do in building diversity and we will work hard to create an organization that represents our entire community.
  • We will champion economic equality within our industry and push for a more representative workforce— from bookselling to publishing and at every step in between. 
  • At Kepler’s Literary Foundation, we pledge to redouble our efforts to invite Black authors to Kepler’s for conversations about social justice and race and to discuss and celebrate Black lives in books for readers of all ages. 
  • With Black authors receiving smaller advances and limited exposure, we will press publishers to expand the national tours of Black writers. We will also prioritize reaching out to talented Bay Area writers of color to showcase their work in our programs, celebrating excellence in our own community.

These are the areas of effort we’ve identified so far, but they represent the beginning of a conversation with you. We know we’ve made errors, we’ve fallen short, and we pledge to do better for our community. We want to hear from you. What does more representative programming look like? Who do you want to see speak at Kepler’s? Which Bay Area writers are you reading? How can we better serve our mission of engaging our community? 

Antiracist work is a lifelong process. We want our steps moving forward to be consistent with our stated values. Please join us in that effort by reaching out to our General Manager Amanda Hall by email at Amanda (at) keplers (dot) com. We’re listening.

Sincerely,

The Staff at Kepler's Books & Kepler's Literary Foundation


Why "Black Lives Matter"? 

Black Lives Matter is a movement focused on the empowerment of Black individuals and communities, and its end goal is a society in which their lives are respected and protected to the same extent as any other. 

Kepler’s has a long history rooted in activism. In May 1955, Kepler’s was founded by peace activist Roy Kepler. In honor of this legacy, and in conjunction with his family, we have chosen to display a mural in solidarity with the global Black Lives Matter movement. Our aim is not to diminish the importance of other lives, but rather, to draw much needed attention to the disenfranchisement that Black Americans have faced over the course of hundreds of years.

What Does the Fist Represent?

Our Black Lives Matter mural is punctuated by the skyward fist, an icon used throughout history to raise awareness about injustice, stand against inequality, and symbolize solidarity. In recent protests, the skyward fist has been used to bring awareness to the many ways American society privileges white lives over Black and brown lives. 

The skyward fist does not represent, nor does it condone violence. It is a symbol derived from the unity of purpose that exists within the social justice movements taking place across the country and the world. Violence has no place in any peaceful protest, and we reject the notion that it is necessary to spur change.

Why Aren't We Saying "All Lives Matter"?

We agree that all lives should matter but the unfortunate reality of our country is that historically, Black lives have been significantly undervalued. For us to truly proclaim that all lives matter, Black lives must be valued more, treated with more dignity, and accorded greater justice and opportunity. Only when we recognize inequities in our society can we begin to work together to create change and support anti-racist policies. 

The data illustrating these inequities are alarming. Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. “They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans.”
 
It is not only in the context of law enforcement that Black citizens are disproportionately subjected to suffering. There is a clear disparity in healthcare outcomes as well. In an article from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, cardiologist Clyde Yancy points out that “one in every 1,850 Black Americans has died from COVID-19 — a mortality rate 2.4 times higher than that for whites.”

The purpose of “Black Lives Matter” is to bring awareness to the inherent racism in our systems and institutions. In the words of James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Until we face these challenges head-on, all lives can’t matter. 

Is Kepler's Promoting Violence?

Kepler’s is committed to its values and long history of engaging in peaceful and nonviolent ways of building a world that works for all. We reject all forms of violence. Our founder Roy Kepler was a peace activist. He, along with Joan Baez and Ira Sanperl, founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence. Our current CEO Praveen Madan is also a deep believer in and practitioner of nonviolence. 

Why at Kepler's?

As an intellectual and cultural hub for the San Francisco peninsula, this mural embodies our responsibility to work together to reverse trends that have been percolating in our society’s discourse regarding the value of Black lives. As a mission-based community bookstore, Kepler’s staff is committed to following the Black Lives Matter movement’s guiding principle to “acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities,” because a bookstore is a place where everyone should feel welcome.

More Resources

To learn more about America’s history and help combat racism, we must push ourselves, and encourage those we love, to take the time and space to reckon with racism in all its forms. One important step in reckoning with racism is seeking out Black voices. We can help make changes in society by seeing, understanding, and valuing Black lives. These resources for combating racism are meant to stimulate meaningful conversations, promote empathy, and increase accountability within our communities. 

 

Please check out these amazing murals painted by some of our local artists.