Sisters Barbara Cerda and Valeria Cerda are working to bring a revolution to Milwaukee’s Southside through their online bookstore, La Revo Books.
“For years, it had always been a lifelong dream of mine to have a community space,” Valeria said.
La Revo, short for “La Revolucion,” offers readers an affordable, relevant and a careful selection of books. All of the books are for and by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) with a specialization in Latinx literature. The titles include English, Spanish and “Spanglish” texts.
“We’ve been getting book recommendations from our friends in the community. We’ve been trying to communicate specialty titles,” Barbara said.
Poet X by Dominican-American author Elizabeth Acevedo, Mexican Gothic by Mexican-Canadian novelist Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Mexican American writer Erika Sánchez are just a few offerings from their collection.
“A lot of people are asking for children’s books. That’s definitely something people want to see, especially books geared towards Latinx children,” Valeria said.
Both sisters have fond memories of reading growing up. Each has their own unique connection to literature that reminded them of their Mexican-American upbringing. For Barbara, it’s Grandma and Me at the Flea / Los Meros Meros Remateros, a bilingual book about a grandmother and her grandson going to the flea market.
“My sister and I used to go to the flea market in Racine,” she said.
Barbara emphasized the importance of providing literature that feels empowering and not just traumatizing. While extraordinary stories of individuals who overcame struggle or oppression should be told, so should everyday stories of people of color doing normal activities, she said.
“I think it’s important to consider reading levels and topics. I like reading historical books, so finding accessible books that aren’t just thick academic text is important to us,” Valeria said.
La Revo also plans to have texts for community members searching for information about historical figures or groups like Assata Shakur, the Black Panther Party, and Young Lords. The Cerdas hope to provide texts that reflect the diverse communities within Milwaukee such as the African American, Asian American, and Latinx community.
“There’s definitely a lot of local authors and we definitely want to have a section of homegrown lit of people from Wisconsin,” Valeria said.
In addition to literature, La Revo plans to cultivate a space for local artisans, when they are able to secure a physical location. Their bookstore will also serve as a “Tianguis” (Spanish for marketplace) / “Tianquitzli” (Nahuatl for marketplace). This is an event that happens on the weekends where local artisans sell products like bars of soap. The Cerdas wanted to create this space on a continuous basis in their store.
“We know a lot of those creators will rely on pop-ups so we’re hoping this could be a home for that,” Valeria said.
Recently, La Revo launched their virtual bookstore where customers can order and purchase books for either shipping or pick up. Customers can also explore the marketplace to purchase an item like a coloring book or making a donation at https://www.larevobooks.com/