It's been a minute... I hope everyone is staying safe, staying healthy, and most importantly staying sane in these crazy times. I decided to step back to really observe some of the things being said, written, and/or discussed about planning after COVID-19... and I must say I'm sort of disappointed (but not entirely) by what I've heard/read, as some things can't be "fixed" in the planning world when they were never considered wrong... but anywayssssss
I've honestly just been kind of fed up and extremely tired of reading about everything urban planners been talking about doing differently in communities after COVID-19, so I did what I do best - switched up the narrative to focus on amazing things happening in communities without the help of urban planners. This particular blog been sitting on me for a few weeks now, actually before the Nipsey blog, but I wasn't sure how to write it or how to approach it then a simple tag on IG brought me all the inspiration I needed. A colleague and friend of mine, Jonathan (@c1typlann3r) from LA, tagged me in a picture the day I posted my lil' tribute to Nispey - it was from a coffee shop in South Central LA, South LA Cafe. I'd been wanting to really tap into a real, physical spot that exhibited this fantasy idea I had of what "black spaces" really meant in my mind and the moment I scrolled through South LA Cafe's IG I knew, actually I felt what BLCK SPCES epitomized. A fully engulfed "third place" in the heart of South Central LA that thrives and celebrates the history of South Central, the culture and pride of the community, and most importantly, the COMMUNITY that truly loves this business as more than a brick-and-mortar spot.
When I saw pictures on South LA Cafe's IG, I immediately associated it with the idea of "third places" - which are those places that act as a "third place" you spend a significant amount of time at, it comes after home and work typically. And not just any third place, but a third place for US, and I mean "us" as in Black and Latino. It's BLACK-OWNED so that's a major bonus for the area along with what it represents - more than just a coffee shop, it's a coffee shop essentially in the hood, something that's seemingly unheard of or deemed unlikely by economists and developers, but this spot is way more than coffee. It's location alone is monumental for what it represents and what it stands for - it's wild how much history of racial segregation, discrimination, and racism lives in South Central LA and this business has translated that into a key characteristic of who they are and who they represent. I get chills just thinking/writing about it, that's how inspired and pumped it makes me lol. If you're not aware, a lot of businesses like theirs don't exist in low-income, minority neighborhoods/communities and it's damn sure not a lot of coffee spots in these places - as if Black/Latino folks don't drink coffee or something?
This place feels like a third place to me and I haven't even been yet lol. I've just been following them on IG and reading about them - their values are simple and I believe so much in that I'll never dim my light when promoting amazing (AFFORDABLE) places + spaces in Black/Latino communities. The owners of South LA Cafe live in a food desert that had been deprived of access to quality goods, as most communities of color are, so they wanted to do something about it - and they did. I mean I can't stop re-reading that sentence on their website because it's a conversation I've had, more times than I can count, with developers about the feasibility of developing QUALITY and AFFORDABLE commercial places in disinvested communities... but reading that on their website was 100% validation that it's more than POSSIBLE when done right. That's honestly all I really want out of my career - to create places like South LA Cafe that fosters community building through their business while being a safe/comfortable place to exist, congregate, and just enjoy while being Black and/or Latino. That's the whole meaning of BLCK SPCES for me and the path I'm dedicating my career to.
With the current situation in the world right now it's tough watching so many businesses have to cutback on operations or close for good. The Black/Latino small businesses are taking a huge hit economically, and the communities they serve are taking an even bigger hit. Without these businesses a lot of us don't have places to congregate in comfort, places to shop for particular goods that celebrate our culture/heritage, places that created jobs for kids/adults in our neighborhoods when they were none or very few, places we got hair done at and got haircuts at, places we stopped by to chop it up about sports or even gossip a little lol, and places that felt like home/family because they had that much of an impact in our community. Buying Black shouldn't be a "thing" because of the pandemic, it should just be done. They're usually small in nature, ran through a family, and service areas that others wouldn't even consider coming to - it's so important for small Black-owned businesses to exist the way South LA Cafe does to create the right representation of #buyingBlack and supporting our own in our hoods. Little mom n' pop shops, bodegas, quality c-stores, hole in the wall restaurants, lounges, and any other Black or Latino owned business, really mean more to Black/Latino communities than people realize... it's a vibe that can't be duplicated at a chain restaurant or store.
If you wanna support South LA Cafe to help them stay up and running through this pandemic head to their website - www.southlacafe.com - to do so or if you're in the area go by and patronize them! They're still open and delivering/sponsoring meals and groceries to families that need a little extra help and those that aren't able to get out - I love 'em and I ain't ever stepped foot in the building lol. But as SOON as all this settles down and gets down the road - I'm on a flight! I encourage you to find a Black-owned (or Latino-owned) small business and support 'em if you can - here's a list of a few for ya, you're welcome!
Preppy Poindexter (apparel)
preppypoindexter.com - IG: preppypoindexterofficial
Icyy Brand (apparel)
icyybrand.com - IG: icyy.brand
The Saucey Collection (apaprel/custom shoes)
www.thesauceycollection.com - IG: thesauceycollection
Hustle 365 The Brand (apparel)
hustle365thebrand.com - IG: hustle365thebrand
South LA Cafe (coffee shop)
southlacafe.com - IG: southlacafe
GiGi The Planner (urban planning apparel and more)
gigitheplanner.com - IG: gigitheplanner
Gutted Fitness (lifestyle blog/workout gear)
guttedfitness.com - IG: gutted_nthings
Kreative Coaching (apparel)
kreativecoaching.com - IG: kreativecoaching
Chase Well-Respected (custom prints & streetwear brand)
Jawuan Ford (artist)
IG: jawuanford/YouTube: Jawuan
Haven't felt that compelled by a place I've never been to... probably ever lol so I wanna say THANK YOU to South LA Cafe for creating a place that inspires, motivates, and empowers folks in different time zones to do amazing things in their own communities!
“Just don’t give up what you’re trying to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” ~Ella Fitzgerald
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