An “iconic feminist bookstore and community space” is closing in Portland, Oregon.
What could be the cause of this retailer’s failure? People don’t want to buy their books? Perhaps the rise of e-commerce?
Not in the slightest, obviously. The problem lies in white power, patriarchy and white cisgendered feminism.
That’s the takeaway from a statement posted last Monday announcing the closing of In Other Words, a volunteer-run bookstore made famous by the television show “Portlandia.” According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the store will be closing at the end of this month — and it’s all the fault of you blue-eyed devils.
“The current volunteers and board members stepped into and took over a space that was founded on white, cis feminism (read: white supremacy). It’s really difficult, actually, impossible, for us to disentangle from that foundational ideology,” the statement said.
“Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism cannot be reformed and ever serve the people. Abolition is the goal.”
Apparently, all of us white people are responsible for making In Other Words an unsafe space.
“This isn’t sustainable, especially emotionally, for the people who come here and work to provide this space as a resource to Portland Feminist communities,” the statement said.
Of course, this has nothing to do with people not wanting In Other Words’ wares. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact the store’s management decided to shirk the fame they garnered through “Portlandia,” severing ties with the series in 2016 because they “struggled with the spotlight of the hit show,” according to OPB.
Nor was it the fact that as the store’s “focus has shifted from indie bookstore to community space, it has welcomed groups as diverse as AA meetings to Rock Camp for Girls to anti-racist activists.” While this is a nice thing to do, it can’t actually be the focus of a business. A bookstore can indeed be an important community space, but its first goal is to sell books.
No, it’s all the perfidy of white folks. Their supremacy is the sole reason this bookstore is closing down.
There seems to be another non-profit which is interested in running the space, however — although its attitude seems to indicate it will run into the same problems the previous group did.
“We’re definitely keeping things open-ended, in the spirit of In Other Words,” said Anna Swanson, a representative of social justice group Critical Resistance.
OPB says she’s “keeping the space free or low cost and open to all-ages, with an eye to anti-capitalist, anti-racist, intersectional work.”
“It’s really important to us,” Swanson said, “if we can to keep the space alive in that sense, but also to take the opportunity to transition it out of the sort of intractable problems the volunteers and board are talking about.”
Given that the store seems to be definitely anti-capitalist (inasmuch as it can’t actually sell enough to stay in business), I think there’s one very intractable problem that Critical Resistance will still run into.
Good luck solving that one.
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