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St Pete Bookstore Owner Addresses Systemic Racism, Shares Words Of Hope

PINELLAS COUNTY (CW44 News at 10) - People continue to march throughout Tampa Bay in peaceful protest against police brutality, systemic racism and in George Floyd's memory. CW44's Andrea Alvarez spoke with Lorielle Hollaway, the owner of Cultured Books in St. Petersburg, who says she's looking to help change the narrative in her community.

Tucked in the Southwest corner of St. Petersburg, you'll find towering walls bursting with black history and proud black business owners fighting to change the dynamic of their city. Among this backdrop stands, Cultured Books, colloquially known as 'The Deuces', which specializes in presenting multicultural books that share positive stories about people of color, black in particular.

"We see you, we're not backing down. We're not letting you continue to have systemic racism in place - affecting our communities. We can only tell you what's happening, but we need the people in the government to act on it, to do something about it. We started the bookstore around 2017, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do as far as being in college and essentially the bookstore came about. It is my way of activism, making sure that the narrative that black and brown children are inferior or less than, that it's not pushed to them."

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For this mother of three, her focus is the future. Not just for her, but for her girls. "In perfect world, my daughters wouldn't have to deal with racism. They are eight years old. 10 years old and 18 months. Black children, they have to live with [racism]." Ms. Hollaway remarked, visibly moved by emotion. Like so many other protesters taking to the streets, she is looking to change the narrative of this story.

In regards to the violent element of the protests, Hollaway said, "Don't take it into your hands to be destructive because that isn't helping us. When the looting and the rioting and the 'thug' [term], that's just another dog-whistle term that is not directed to you. It's directed to black people. Racism isn't just calling someone a derogatory term, it can be the way that our communities are run, the way that our schools are underfunded. The food deserts. The book deserts."

Her vision for the future includes more than just those marching. "...there is privilege in being white. Use [that] privilege to benefit and to uplift friends who are black. Family members who are black. Communities who have black people in it. That's my hope."

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