black owned bookstore democratic socialists of america
Camille Landry, owner of Nappy Roots Books in Oklahoma City. /
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black owned bookstore democratic socialists of america
Camille Landry, owner of Nappy Roots Books in Oklahoma City. /

The Oklahoma Coalition for Revolutionary Action has organized a direct service event with several grassroots groups, including political leftists.

Among the coalition, Oklahoma City’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America will offer free groceries available for pick-up at Nappy Roots bookstore on Saturday, March 20 from noon to 4:00 p.m.

Residents will also find help signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine at the event.

The most notable members of DSA include U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. But members across the country share an idea that the economy and society should run to meet the public’s needs instead of making a profit for a few. It’s an idea that appears to be catching on after the Nevada Democratic Party leadership was swept away by a tide of successful DSA candidates earlier this month.

Mutual aid not charity

Unlike charities, which often require burdensome forms, social security numbers, proof of employment, and other kinds of verification, all one needs to grab a bag of groceries on Saturday is a pulse. In return, OKCDSA hopes marginalized members of the community will start to see that Democratic socialism is for more than just White people.

“Our grocery distribution event is meant to get food and vaccine information to people without any obstacles or questions asked,” OKCDSA member Adam Lambert told the Black Wall Street Times. “We believe that reaching out to offer mutual aid, not charity, is deeply important and vital in order to fight for working class people from all walks of life and all areas of the OKC metro.”

black owned bookstore democratic socialists of america

The event follows other similar direct service events Nappy Roots and OKCDSA have partnered on. And it adds to the work grassroots leftist groups around the state are doing as they push local governments to do more as well. The event comes as millions of people begin to receive a third round of federal COVID relief stimulus checks. Packing onto that historic progressive win, leftist groups on the ground in OKC are packing up meals for community members still in need.

Addressing poverty requires more than stimulus checks

Despite the $1,400 direct payments and child tax credits that thousands of Oklahomans are receiving, poverty remains a real threat, especially to children. In a recent report, Oklahoma Policy Institute noted how the pandemic intensified an already alarming rate of poverty, especially among families of color.

OK Policy noted the need for a government response to the crisis. It detailed how “pre-existing structural inequalities have rendered households of color, particularly Black and Native households, especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis.” The report went on to state the need for the legislature to take action.

Other groups supporting the OKCDSA event include For the People, Industrial Workers of the World Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Tenants United, and the Brown Berets of Oklahoma.

Nappy Roots: Community’s headquarters

With a goal of direct service not charity, Nappy Roots ended up being the perfect location for OKCDSA’s latest grocery giveaway event. No longer the city’s only Black-owned bookstore since opening in 2018, Nappy Roots still stands apart as a beacon of hope, service, and community. More than that, it’s a political incubator.

The Black-owned bookstore has hosted cultural events that shared perspectives and organized for families in need. It’s also a hotbed for activism. Despite nearly falling prey to eviction amidst the worst economic crisis in years, Camille Landry, owner of Nappy Roots bookstore, has no plans of stopping. The community showed up with thousands of dollars in donations, and Landry continues to provide a source of culturally and intellectually empowering literature in return.

Nappy Roots bookstore “has always been about service,” Landry said. For her, hosting the OKCDSA was a no brainer. It’s right in line with her mission to serve the community, and the need to address food insecurity in Oklahoma is profound. 1 in 5 Oklahoma children struggle with food insecurity. “Food insecure children are more likely to have lower reading and math scores, more significant behavior and social problems, and lower high school graduation rates.”

It’s a mission OKCDSA member Adam Lambert says his organization shares. “We are a group of people living and working in OKC who are looking to form working-class solidarity across racial and ethnic lines,” Lambert said. “And virulently fighting against racism, xenophobia, and economic oppression.”

Saturday’s free grocery distribution event is open to all ages and all income levels.

Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has...

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