Red Rice & Beans Opens (Virtually) in Charlotte
Current teachers Vanessa Williams and Kaneisha Gaston have opened Red Rice & Beans Diaspora Bookstore championing literature and food from the African Diaspora, a virtual bookstore based in Charlotte, NC.
The bookstore debuted last May (2020) with a soft opening online. Named for the co-founders’ love for the beauty of Diaspora food and literature, Red Rice & Beans Diaspora Bookstore (RRB) was intended to be a coffee shop with a small selection of books. While that vision lives, KG and Vanessa sought to keep the original idea embedded in the bookstore’s name. RRB sells fiction and nonfiction for children, teens and adults in physical and digital formats worldwide. In the near future, it will offer a selection of nonbook products including stationery, tote bags, t-shirts, accessories and, of course, coffee and tea.
Williams said, “I often say to my students and myself, ‘There’s no wrong time to seek justice and joy.’ It’s a principle I live out in both my professional and personal lives. This bookstore, with its mission, vision, and design, and being able to run it with my best friend, is the perfect combination of both those pursuits–justice and joy by championing the African Diaspora.”
While most events have been small, IG lives, RRB’s event plans include interactive discussions focused on book food culture and literary production. As Gaston explains, “Our vision is for our bookstore to, in its own way, support those collectively working to bring in new voices, create new structures, and craft new visions for our Black, Africana literary and cultural production.”