Raven White believes that all races should see themselves represented in literature. Through her newly opened bookstore, Brown Sugar Cafe and Books, White is committed to bringing Black books and culture to the Katy community. The store also has a special focus on banned books, and critically acclaimed author Jerry Craft, whose books were challenged for banning in Katy ISD, is an upcoming speaker at the shop.
Brown Sugar Cafe and Books opened earlier this month, and White hopes that her shop will encourage reading within the Black community and increase awareness in the larger community.
“The difference between our bookstore is we focus on Black and brown authors and artists to represent that part of our community that we think is underserved,” White said. “Although we do have a heavy focus on African-American literature, everyone can come in the store and see a clear reflection of themselves regardless of their race or background.”
White and her family moved from Chicago to Katy nine years ago, and while she loves the Katy community, she quickly noticed that Black authors and Black culture was under-represented in the area. “It was a culture shock for me and my family, and we didn’t find a lot of things that pertained directly to us, so we decided to bring something diverse into the community,” she said.
The opening of the bookstore is timely for the area. Katy ISD recently came under fire for pulling books by award-winning author craft and postponing his speaking engagement after a parent decried the books as critical race theory. The ban was later thrown out and the books returned to shelves, but the district is still embroiled in controversy over other banned materials.