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Why doesn't the crosswalk work?


There’s a woman who runs a bookshop in De Bijlmer. She has kind eyes that make you want to curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Often when I’m there, she offers just that: tea, and a place to quiet down and dive into an interesting title. She’s running a fine business over there, Cole Verhoeven is.

Aside from bookshop owner she’s also a writer. I love the work she does at One World, where she articulates strong perspectives on antiracism and equity. A few weeks ago, she sold me this book:

When I took it from the shelf, I didn’t know she was the one who wrote it. Eventually, she told me she had drawn inspiration from the questions her child asks her. The questions often leave her bemused, surprised, stunned. I suppose they’re the questions we forget to ask as we grow older.

It’s a perfect coffee table book, deserving of a central place in the house to welcome guests into an atmosphere of curiosity and whimsy.

One page that stands out to me is this one. There must have been countless times I wondered similar things as a child. Why are the garbage men brown? Why do all the other colored people live on the other side of the tracks? Why don’t I see myself on television?

I imagine the life of Cole’s child, growing up in this part of history, with a Black parent at home to raise him, in one of the most diverse cities in Europe. Access to a Black-owned bookshop that helps people see themselves in others. It makes me feel equal parts envy and calm.