Kalima DeSuze, Owner of Cafe con Libros
We first heard of Cafe con Libros as the neighborhood feminist bookstore favorite, and you know us, we had to go witness it ourselves.
From the outside, it looks like an ordinary coffee shop. Books, coffee, white walls. What made this place special? Plentiful. The nuances and what this space represents is what made this exceptionally different than other coffee shops we’ve heard around town.
As you enter this space, it’s beautifully decorated with titles that speak to People of Color, Feminists and Rebels. Carefully selected by the owner, Kalima DeSuze, “[the books] are feminists text. Written by, for, or about women. I am particular interested in stories beyond the continental USA. And I’m committed to books that educate and tell the stories of the LBGTQ population.” There is a lot of intersectionality within the book selection. DeSuze adds, “This criteria extends to children’s books as well.”
Are you hooked yet? The owner is an Afro-Latinx that influenced the space; she wanted to use her voice and platform to showcase powerful, marginalized voices. “Black feminism saved my life. It continues to reinforce my reserves and provide guidance to be fully human” she says. “I learned a lot about the Black feminist canon from my Sister comrade while organizing. I have the privilege to organize, to read at leisure, to buy books without a second thought while many of my Sisters do not. I’m seeking to bring forward what is largely unknown to folks who are not connected via the academy, organizing or other feminist learning spaces.”
“It’s time that womyn’s stories be prioritize and that a space exist explicitly for and about womyn. So many of our spaces are male-dominated; even the ones that are created solely to be for and about womyn. My womyn only spaces have served as a healing tonic and, a reminder of whose shoulders I stand on. It’s important that more of our girls and womyn have access to such warmth and mirroring.”
A space for change and accessible to community members summarizes Cafe con Libros in a nutshell.
In addition to the curated book selection and delicious beans, the cafe hosts book clubs amongst other event programs. This includes, “[the cafe] is used to facilitate and nurture critical conversations to build bridges across differences and uplifting the arts.” What does that mean? DeSuze explains, “We would like women to connect with their artistic side so we supporting writing workshops.” The books for the monthly book club are selected at random, and opened to the community to chime in and learn together. From her own personal experience, it was important to incorporate a book club connected to the cafe because DeSuze became smarter through those discussions. “It’s a way to build community, encourage reading and I belonged to a feminist book club and it was the best thing I ever did at the point in my life.”
In the political climate we are in, there has been a rise of New York City Latinx feminist bookstores, and she says, “There is a need for access to more complicated narratives at the local level. To heal our communities by reminding them of their worth and value through endeavors like these.” Yes to all of these!
Representation has been a buzz-worthy word as of late as a result of living in the horrific Trump Era, but it's about damn time these Voices are breaking the silence and getting recognition. We believe more than ever, majority of society has this huge appetite for diverse Voices. So, Cafe con Libro is ahead of the "trend" and honestly, there are so many reasons to support your local bookstores and businesses. However, our goal on thecnnekt is to go beyond that and really showcase wonderful diverse womyn who do great for their communities.