The independently operated bookstore at the V Street NW location of Busboys and Poets became the target of one of conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh‘s on-air diatribes Monday.
Limbaugh blasted the store, which is operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change, for not selling his new children’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots.
Limbaugh’s mention of the store was prompted by Teaching for Change Executive Director Deborah Menkart‘s remarks at a C-SPAN-taped event at Busboys and Poets for an unrelated book, Brazil’s Dance with the Devil, which aired Sunday. Menkart gave the opening speech and said 90 percent of children’s books that Teaching for Change sells at the bookstore are by or about people of color, specifically noting that the shop does not sell Limbaugh’s best-selling children’s book. She said the bookstore proves there is a market for these books by or about minority people, but then added that the bookstore isn’t breaking even and asked the audience for support through donations.
This is what Limbaugh took issue with on his show Monday.
…This is exclusionary, it’s racist, it’s bigoted, and it’s the opposite of everything they claim to be. And it’s exactly what they accuse us of being. They claim that they’re tolerant. They claim they’re open-minded. They claim that they are colorblind and all that. They are the most bigoted, racist people. They exclude here and exclude there and then they don’t make any money and they can’t figure out why.
My two books are in the top five on the New York Times best-seller list, and here’s a woman at a bookstore who wants to sell books, is begging people to buy ’em, proudly says that two of the books in the top five are not even available at her store, and she wants accolades for that. These people are loony. They simply are dumb. They don’t have the slightest idea what they’re doing. And they happen to be running the country. And I don’t just mean in Washington. People like this are in charge of the public school system. People like this are teaching your kids. People like this are running day care. People like this show up at Obama’s fundraisers.
Menkart says that since Limbaugh’s segment aired, the nonprofit has received hate calls from fans of the conservative show accusing her of being racist. Menkart tells City Desk that all independent bookstores are struggling, no matter what type of books they are selling. Teaching for Change is accepting donations for its entire organization, which provides resources for schools, parents, and children.
“It shows what we are facing,” Menkart says. “That Rush Limbaugh clearly feels threatened and willing to dedicate that much airspace on his show highlights the uphill battle we are facing.”
Only 10 percent of children’s books currently on the market are by or about minority people, according to Menkart. She says the Teaching for Change staff curates the books sold at its Busboys and Poets shop to reflect the diversity of the surrounding community.
“It really reflects the diversity and we’re proud of it,” she says. “People over and over come in and say they are so happy that we carry [these books.]
UPDATE: Menkart called to clarify that 90 percent of the children’s books the stores sells are by or about people of color and 10 percent of children’s books currently on the market are by or about people of color. The post originally stated that these statistics applied to all books.
Photo by Daquella manera via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0