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Brooklyn Bookstore Pens Open Letter Apologizing for Racial Bias

Greenlight Bookstore, with stores in Fort Greene and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, has committed to an anti-racism audit
Greenlight Bookstore Photo: Courtesy Greenlight Bookstore

Greenlight Bookstore, which first opened in Fort Greene in 2009, released an open letter to customers on Wednesday apologizing for issues of racial bias caused by store policies, Publishers Weekly reports.

In the letter, co-owners Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo said the Fort Greene and Prospect Lefferts Gardens stores had created an, "unwelcoming environment for Black customers and employees who have been disregarded and disrespected." They said issues of bias had been raised with them and they outlined concrete steps to change policies that had supported those acts.

"As our company has grown and our policies and procedures have developed, we have not been intentional in creating systems that actively oppose anti-Blackness, bias, profiling, and other forms of racism," they wrote. "We take responsibility for what happens in our stores—both on and off our sales floors—and we are committed to doing the work to improve how we treat our employees and customers."

Greenlight Bookstore pioneered a community-based funding model and is one the few stores in the country with a formal employee handbook and HR policies. But it had not incorporated anti-racism into the way it conducts business.

"It's not enough for us to passively say Black Lives Matter if we aren't also taking steps to ensure that we're fostering an intentionally anti-racist environment in our stores, both for our staff and for our customers," Fitting told Publishers Weekly. "So with that, we are doing an internal audit and making changes, with our e-mail from the other day being the first step."

Immediate changes would include making changes to the store's policy manual and employee handbook, making anti-bias training mandatory for all staff and ensuring a transparent process for employees filing grievances.