A Multicultural Children’s Bookstore Has Closed But Lessons Were Learned And An Impact Was Made
I will never forget seeing MiJa Books for the very first time in the Lakewood Mall. It was such a bright, refreshing experience to see such a variety of children’s books with colorful illustrations showing little girls and boys of all shades. I had never seen such a display for kids of color like this before. The teacher and auntie in me could have spend all of my gas money buying books for my little loved ones in this book paradise!
A 'Latinapreneur' With Lessons To Give
This is the web version of our How To LA newsletter. Sign up here to get this newsletter sent to your inbox each weekday morning
That’s why it broke my heart to learn from my colleague Mariana Dale’s story last week that this Latina-owned bookstore, which opened in November 2021, was closing its doors. Its last day was Saturday.
Mariana recently visited owner Stephanie Moran Reed at MiJa Books to chat about the lessons she's learned about running a business while also being a mom. It all started with a love of books and a desire for her Afro-Latina daughter to see herself in the stories she read. There just weren’t enough titles available, even online, so Reed saw a need and filled it.
Born in a pandemic, the store had big ups — and downs — after launch, and not every encounter with a customer was a positive one. But MiJa Books had a huge impact on people.
This is what Reed told Mariana:
The first customer that walked in was brought to tears. She was an older Black lady named Corine, I'll never forget her name. She was just scanning the shelves and she paused and was kind of speechless for a while. She just started shedding tears and she's like, 'I've never seen anything like this before.' I cried with her in that moment.
Read the rest of Mariana’s interview with Reed here, and learn more about the life of MiJa Books — how Reed's husband supported her choice to start her own business and how she handled the challenges that inevitably came her way.
Reed’s story and MiJa’s aren't over though. The mission will continue. She and her husband Muammar still have books available to buy online, at special events and at some nearby schools.
As always, try to stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.
(After you stop hitting snooze)
- Huntington Park police officers last week shot and killed Anthony Lowe, a man with both of his legs amputated. There’s very little footage of the incident. One reason for that is that the Huntington Park Police Department does not use body-worn cameras. Here’s why that matters.
- I LOVE seeing the snow-capped mountains from my home. But as much as I enjoy this view, I don’t quite like being cold. Looks like I am going to just have to deal with it though — we’re likely to feel a cold front through Thursday.
- We told you about the L.A. County homeless count. Did you volunteer or are you experiencing homelessness and were counted? My colleague Julia Barajas wants to hear how this process affected all involved. If this applies to you, please let us know here.
- If you are feeling distressed by the recent news of mass shootings and mounting incidents of people being killed by police, there are places to turn for help, like the Disaster Distress Help Helpline.
- The California reparations task force is recommending that the state create the African American Freedmen Affairs Agency. This agency will process claims for atonement and work with other agencies around the state to deliver other recommendations. The task force has a July deadline to finalize their guidance.
- Thieves have been stealing from Californians’ EBT cards and it’s been extremely costly not only for the low-income recipients who have to scramble to pay bills, but also for the state. Here’s how it has affected several families in California and nationwide.
*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!
(more news headlines here)
Wait... One More Thing
Did You Know The Zombie Fungus From The Last Of Us Is Real? (Don't Worry. There's Good News Too.)
For today’s interesting story of the day, let’s talk about parasites.
It feels like every time I’ve checked my timeline on Twitter these past couple of weeks, I see people talking about the HBO show The Last of Us. In the 2013 video game and the show, humans are trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world after an infectious fungus turns people into zombies. As a fan of Animal Planet’s Monsters Inside Me, I’m intrigued.
Turns out this fiction isn’t so far from the truth. There is a species of fungus that does practice some sort of “mind control” in insects like spiders and ants, and causes them to change their behavior.
The good news that separates it from the show? The fungus can’t infect humans…at least for now. Read NPR’s story for more.
Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.