The Black-owned bookstore has books and gifts that “speaks to our diaspora.”
By Megan Reed
After a ten year hiatus, Malik and Aprilia Muhammad reopened Malik Books three months ago in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The new location is on the second level of the mall on the Macy’s Bridge.
With the emergence of online shopping, bookstores across the country have gone out of business, as consumers are much more likely to shop on websites such as Amazon.com than drive to a local store. But websites do not capture the feeling of Black pride, Black excellence, and Black knowledge in the same way that a Black-owned bookstore can.
“Malik Books is the total African-American expression of Blackness,” Malik said. “What I mean by that is we have books and gifts that speaks to our diaspora.”
With online shopping, people cannot stand in a store where they are surrounded by books written by Black authors for Black people. At a book store, people do not have to bounce around from one web page to another to see the collection of books. They can simply look to the left and see books about Black iconic people, and then look to the right and see a Black children’s book section. Walking through the store, people will see Black books on finance, health, politics, revolution, romance, sports, and entertainment.
Not only are there books, but gifts, greeting cards, coffee mugs, tote bags, puzzles, note pads and journals that are all geared towards Black people. Many of these items are difficult to find in mainstream stores.
So far, people who frequent the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza are appreciating an actual bookstore, which have become hard to find.
“Everyday people come in and tell us that they’re thankful that we reopened,” Malik said. “They say that they’re thankful that they have access to this type of material. People get a sense of pride, self-worth, wholesomeness and well being. The ambiance here resonates a very positive energy. We have history books that speaks to our truth and our voice as Black people.”
Malik Books was first opened in 1989, a few years after Malik graduated from USC. He realized that there were many aspects of Black history that he was not taught in school.
“There were a lot of things that I discovered after graduating,” he said. “I took classes in anthropology and ancient history (while in college), but there were things that I didn’t know, even with a college degree. I didn’t know that Black people were the first people on the planet. My professors never said anything about Black people being the original people, or Black people built pyramids. I just wondered how a major university did not share this information. So I went on this quest to discover what was hidden.”
Malik Books was first opened on Manchester Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Malik later moved the bookstore to Crenshaw Boulevard and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, and then into the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in 1994. The bookstore was a fixture at the mall until 2009.
Since the doors have reopened, Malik has seen a lot of foot traffic. Michelle Obama’s book has been the best seller, and “The New Jim Crow” continues to sell out.
There are also special events that feature discussions with authors. In honor of Women’s History Month, Malik Books is hosting an event that will feature author, motivational speaker, and pastor Linda G. Hodge on Saturday, March 16 at 1 p.m. At this free event in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza community room, Hodge will discuss her book, “Bruised But Not Broken.” There will be a book signing at Malik Books afterward.