Oct 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

A Latino oasis in a San Antonio book desert

x Senator Menendez made the first purchase of books at the GCAC Latino Bookstore and donated them to a Mexican American Studies high school class that attended the ribbon cutting as a field trip.
Texas State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) poses with children at the Guadalupe Latino Bookstore in San Antonio, Texas, on Oct. 1. Photo: Courtesy of Tony Diaz

Novelist Tony Diaz and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center are bringing books to one of the poorest zip codes in San Antonio, Texas, with the launch of a bookstore.

Why it matters: The bookstore is meant to address book deserts in low-income, Latino neighborhoods and the lack of representation of Latino authors in "existing bookstores across the state and the country," the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center said in a news release.

  • Aside from the newly opened Guadalupe Latino Bookstore, southwest San Antonio has no bookstores.
  • Be smart: A book desert is a geographic region where reading materials are hard to obtain.

The big picture: In a 2016 study, researchers found substantial disparities in access to print material among those living in low-income neighborhoods in the United States.

  • The general lack of reading materials coupled with the high poverty rate in these communities held "profound" academic consequences for the children within them, according to the report.
  • The problem is magnified in low-income regions in Texas, where, there is only one age-appropriate book per 300 children, according to San Antonio Youth Literacy.

What they're saying: "We are in a book desert and just the fact that book deserts exist is proof of structural discrimination," Diaz told Axios.

  • "I think many of us grow up in that setting, and some of us then wind up finding books that reflect our history later on," he added.
  • "I think it'd be nice if we could all unite to deliver that to our youth early on and across the board. We want children to just grow up thinking it rains Latinx poets and writers."

The intrigue: The Chicano and Nuyorican poets and writers of the 1970s strived to build a literary pipeline for Latinos by creating spaces to elevate their work, such as cafes and bookstores.

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