This letter is now open to Waterstones staff, customers and members of the public:
Open letter text
Dear James Daunt at Waterstones,
We write this letter as employees, booksellers and customers asking you to urgently consider supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yesterday was an all-time record breaking day in our online sales and traffic at Waterstones with the top 9 bestsellers (and 20 of our top 30) being written by Black authors, or were books about race. We are so excited that these important and fundamental books are flying off our shelves and finding needed and necessary homes. However, we don’t think it is enough to just sell these books and tweet our support for the Black Lives Matter movement anymore. We feel it is essential that we also pledge our support to the BLM movement with action, financial aid and resources.
It is important to imagine what our bookstores would look like without black and brown authors. What would our reading experience be without the words of Black queer and trans writers? What would our stores look like without Black customers? Black and brown authors, customers and staff enrich the life of our bookstores; without them we couldn’t exist as booksellers and our purpose would be so much less important.
We understand it is a difficult time during the unprecedented closure due to Covid-19, yet we must also be aware that this is a historic moment in the fight against racial injustices being perpetrated against the Black community; here in the UK and across the world. At this time book retailers could be pledging their solidarity beyond a post by providing financial support for the Black community.
Waterstones should recognise the massive revenues that BLM is generating on our online platform and we should be fairly distributing this wealth with donations to Freedom and bail funds like Black Visions Collective, Emergency Release Fund, The Bail Project, or BLMUK who opened their fund yesterday. However, this support for the Black community should not be a one off opportunity and must take the form of an ongoing allyship, such as offering Black authors residencies and scholarships; opportunities that are currently denied to them.
We believe it is time for Waterstones to stand up beyond an Instagram post or a tweet and provide substantive support for the Black community who are fundamental to our bookstores.
Waterstones staff and customers
Message from the co-ordinators:
"This Open Letter is a practice of accountability; individual, corporate and institutional.
There is no way around it: we must be donating and supporting the BlackLivesMatter movement through giving money to bail funds, freedom funds, The Free Black University, BLMUK, to name a few.
As white booksellers who started this Open Letter, who are paid below the living wage, and many of whom are paid minimum wage, we can still pay individual reparations each month, whilst also demanding that our corporations give substantive money to the BLM movement.
White employees cannot hold our tongues in fear of losing our jobs. We must demand that our corporations and institutions do better; that they distribute money, resources and give up power to form legitimate and sustained solidarity with the BLM movement."
Thank you for taking part! Here's a list of fantastic organisations campaigning for justice right now. Please give what you can to support the movement:
Black Lives Matter UK: https://www.blacklivesmatter.uk/
Black Visions Collective: https://www.blackvisionsmn.org
Emergency Release Fund: https://emergencyreleasefund.com
The Bail Project: https://bailproject.org
If you want to start a campaign calling on your workplace or industry to support the Black Lives Matter movement, you can start a campaign here: https://teamup.organise.org.uk/