Malik Muhammad said although he graduated with a college degree from the University of Southern California (USC) he did not have knowledge of self. A native of Washington, D.C., he majored in Public Administration, confident that he would go back to D.C., after college and land a government job.
God had better plans for him, however.
“Do for self or suffer the consequences,” is one of the most important lessons Malik has learned on his journey of self-discovery. He says he realized that God wanted him to do for self, to be an entrepreneur and to be independent.
His journey of self-discovery began in discussion with an elder who told him, “Do not believe me. Go out and do your own research.” This conversation stuck with Malik and he began to do just that.
In 2018, he re-opened his flagship Malik’s Bookstore in the Crenshaw Mall after selling books online for awhile. After hosting community poetry events, Malik again realized the impact of having a physical location to sell books and to host the art community. This sparked the re-birth of Malik Books in 2018, which he currently operates with his wife April, who he says is the “secret glue” that holds it all together.
“Our flagship store at the Crenshaw location has been overwhelmingly successful. The outpour of love from the community has been enormous. This time around has been different. It feels like the community is more appreciative of us having a store. They would come in and say, thank you. Thank you for just being here.”
The support from the community means a lot to Malik and lets him know that the struggles he endured has not been in vain. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, many small businesses were drastically affected due to the forced closures, especially in Los Angeles. With sales dropping or diminishing completely, rent for their businesses still had to be paid. Many scrambled, trying to figure out ways to keep their businesses alive.
Some were lucky to receive coronavirus grant money and others turned to crowd funding–including Malik Books–as well as the popular Inglewood breakfast spot The Serving Spoon.
The generosity exceeded these business owners expectations.
The Serving Spoon’s fundraising goal of $75,000 went over $100,000.
Malik Books Gofundme campaign allowed them to not only pay off their debts, but have the opportunity to open their second location in the Culver City Mall November 2020.
“We saw the value in supporting them and they found the value in supporting us being in business. Today at our grand opening at the Westfield Culver City Mall, a man broke down crying because he was so appreciative of us being here. Him seeing the selection of books and him seeing a reflection of himself, it really broke him down,” said Malik.
Malik says these types of interactions lets him know that he is doing something right and meaningful. He says his passion is his bookstores. It is something Malik has done for years but now he knows that this is his true calling. He does not have to second guess his choices because he can clearly see the impact that it has made.
“I’ve done a lot of things. I have done real estate, I have done personal training. I’m still helping people realize financial freedom, coaching people on how to go to college and get scholarships, I’m always doing things to help people reach their goals. Malik Books is just the continuation of the spirit that God put in me. I love us and I want to see us grow as a people.”
“I had a college degree from USC, but I didn’t have knowledge of self.” – Malik Muhammad
People are destroyed off a lack of knowledge Malik says. When he gained knowledge of self, it changed his perspective and allowed him to see things differently. Before, Malik says that he did not fully understand the principles of unity and supporting each other in your community.
He has come to understand that it is not about what he does as an individual, but what we can do collectively. Having knowledge of self allows one to develop a sense of self esteem, pride and allows to you develop a higher level of awareness and self-respect. This is the foundation of Malik Books. A Black man wanting to share with his community a journey of self-discovery and transformation through literature and history.
“I read a lot of books on our culture. I did not know a lot of things that were prominent about Black people historically until I began to venture out on my own. I did not learn it at school. I did not learn it at the university. But I learned it on my own by reading. I found that Black people experienced enormous achievements throughout history, yet we as Black people are unaware,” Malik explained.
“We grow up not knowing the contributions that we have made in the advancement of the world. I’m very proud of our culture and our history. I stand firm and strong in the foundation of our ancestors.”
Visit Malik Books Online: https://malikbooks.com
(Originally Published: Slausongirl.com Dec 2020)