“Seeing the unity with folks advocating for Black and Brown people, I thought, ‘how can I as a Black man, do more to support my Latinx brothers and sisters?’ Especially as many have been steadfast allies in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement,” Social media and brand strategist, Tony Hollingsworth tells Remezcla. His new project 1-888-LEE-MAS-1 serves to increase the readership of Latinx authors.
“The one thing I found throughout the BLM movement is the need for education. As only 6% of the publishing industry identifies as Latinx, there is a general lack of information about Latinx cultures or much of the information provided is from a Eurocentric point of view,” he says. “This really limits the groundwork of knowledge and acceptance that we as a country have for those communities.”
On the receiving end of the “Lee-Mas” toll-free number, the caller is greeted by a reader who shares a book title recommendation written by a Latinx author. Once callers have listened to the 30-second to minute-long recording they have the option to record their own suggestions for another caller at the sound of the tone.
“It’s being able to say ‘these are experiences that are different from mine but they’re valuable and I respect [it].”
“There are voices sharing their real experiences with a piece of literature and expressing how those stories have impacted their lives. Hearing the readers, creates connections and fosters interactions on a much deeper level than just reading a review in plain text or on a book list,” the 30-year-old says of how his auditory experience differs from other circulating book collections.
Once 30 audio recorded book recommendations are compiled, Hollingsworth plans to buy them from New York City-based, Latinx-owned bookstores such as Cafe Con Libros, The Lit Bar and Mil Mundos to then donate to the Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA). He will speak to BELAhigh school educators about the project, too, with the hope that they’ll incorporate them into the curriculum or share them with their students.
“On one hand, it’s a way for students to find themselves in literature if they identify as Latinx and to relate with that representation,” he notes. “On the flip side, if you’re not [Latinx], it’s being able to say ‘these are experiences that are different from mine but they’re valuable and I respect and understand the diverse stories of this population a little bit more than what I did before.’”
The recordings are updated daily and stored on their website. You can call in and pitch in your own book suggestion to be donated in your name at 1-888-LEE-MAS-1.