Thursday, July 14, 2016

City Finds | 20 Black Owned Business in the Metro-Atlanta Area


As a woman of color, I find myself constantly engaged in conversations about how to improve our communities and re-establish the role we play in society. In lieu of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's not difficult to recognize the many different ways we thrive and where our strengths are, but it's sometimes easier to focus more on the disconnects in our community by acknowledging the areas in which we fail. 

There is such an overwhelming burst of pride anytime I walk into an establishment and discover that it is black-owned, because they aren't always outwardly obvious finds. It also reminds me of the pride I felt learning that my great-grandfather owned a grocery store during an era in southern America where black men weren't allowed in most-if not all-public facilities. More than anything, I want us to get back to that, not to create more segregation or keep people out, but so that we are not depending upon the financial establishments of those who oppress us.

As a way to demonstrate and implore the on-going support of black entrepreneurs who are making positive strides in the economy, some of which are friends, peers, and personal mentors, I've compiled a list of 20 black owned business in the metro-Atlanta area:  
  1. DeKalb Aquatics: Melissa Wilborn
  2. J.W. Robinson & Associates:
  3. Apache Cafe
  4. The Atlanta Voice Newspaper: Janis L. Ware
  5. S.Council Law Firm, LLC: Shirnelle Council, Esq.
  6. Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead: Gregory and Juanita Baranco 
  7. Jackson Acura, Roswell: Harvey L. Jackson
  8. C.D. Moody Construction Co.: C. David Moody, Jr.
  9. Get LumaDr. Paul Judge and Mike Van 
  10. Premier Academy: Cindra Taylor 
  11. Well Groomed Male: Troy King
  12. Gladys Knight’s & Ron Winan’s Chicken & Waffles: Gladys Knight and Shanga Hankerson
  13. Uptown Comedy Corner
  14. Khatameyic: Tabia Clinkscale
  15. Busy Bee Cafe: Lucy Jackson
  16. Paschal’s Restaurant: James and Robert Pascha
  17. The Major Gallery: Nija Major
  18. 1st Choice Credit Union
  19. H.J. Russell & Co.: Herman J. Russell
  20. The Beehive ATL: Malene Davis
If you're from or familiar with the city of Atlanta and know of any other businesses that should be added, I encourage you to keep building and adding the list! In your area, what are some black business or ones with a positive cause geared towards minority groups? I love to travel, so I'm always looking to explore new local businesses to support. 

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Why #BlackLivesMatter is More than a Hashtag

Protesters walked along Washington Avenue during a Black Lives Matter rally on April 29, 2015, in Minneapolis. image source.
Writing this think-piece has been on my mind for a while, just an empty blog post sitting in my dashboard. Even sitting down to attempt to say something, there is a demon in me holding me back, telling me my words don't matter and never will, that in a sea of popular bloggers and celebrity propaganda, no one will ever read this post. And I try to send positive messages via social platforms like Twitter until I'm blue in the face about social issues, because I know eventually, they will float off into the abyss and be forgotten about sooner or later. In reality, I'm numb. There is so much pain, hurt, and questions that remain unresolved in my heart, from the events that have transpired over the last 48 hours, let alone what has happened in my lifetime, yet I'm trying to come from a place of love and a place where solutions are at the forefront, because I know at the end of the day, it's not about me. 
The most controversial sector of all of this seems to be any mention of Black Lives Matter. Essentially, it was a movement designed to bring about change and to make people aware of what has been going on for centuries. Black Lives Matter stems from fighting to seek justice, standing up for what is right. It's a desperate need for the world to see black people as humans who don't deserve to live in a perpetual state of genocide just because of the color of their skin. However, no matter how many people of color voice that its not about starting a hate war or how many terrorist groups use its messaging to recruit, it's not about killing cops, it's not about dismissing other races, despite the few who misuse the intentions of this cause just like anything else, there are still people who are convinced of the opposite, which is why this demon keeps telling me my words don't matter, because people do not care about the truth.


Please, for the sake of this argument, understand that I do not believe all white people are racist or that all people who look differently than me are against me. The peaceful protest this day in age have become a lot more diverse than they were in the 60's and I would never dismantle the character of someone of another perspective deciding to selflessly stand up with me for my rights. The truth of the matter is racist individuals of European descent get away with murder and our judicial system is equipped to protect them, not black people. There's always an excuse as to why another black male deserved to die at the hands of police, whether he was an illiterate thug or an educated saint, aggressive and uncivilized or docile and compliant, it does not matter. If my words fail to articulate that fact, perhaps intense research could do that job on my behalf. 

Unfortunately, black on black crime always gets pulled into the conversation, usually by token black people who feel that their degrees, status, religious affiliations, education, etc. gives them a pass that somehow excludes them from being a target in a gun show over race. Being that black on black crime an issue we face daily, it's something we have to work on as a group; I completely and utterly get this, as many of us do. However, the reason it's not relevant in terms of redundant police brutality and race wars is because when a group of people start to feel like they can't win either way, despite how they act or where they choose go to school in order to better themselves, they become hopeless, fearful. That's how "the streets" were created. The act of classism itself is just as destructive as systematic racism when it's time to find solutions.
It's also not fair to compare a black man shooting a black man to a cop killing a black man. The black man-if caught-will always be penalized for his crimes against other people. A cop, on the other hand, will walk away with a pension check. Each year, we add more names to the list of people who are killed by the trained authorized who have vowed to 'protect and serve'. For instance, when a black man kills a police officer, he is executed on sight. A cop commits the same crime on camera, there is a need for an extensive investigation, the kind that typically ends up being in favor of the Justice Department at stake. These events then force people to hold up their fists in fights for justice. Yes, both are wrong, but there is a huge difference in how this country responds to and distinguishes right vs. wrong. Most of the time, it is very much about race. In addition, none of this is new, which is why we continue to say: BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

What is apparent in this nation right now is division. There are systems set up against minority groups, specifically, that said groups have been taught to trust. Black communities destroying communities they didn't create in the first place and killing each other in retaliation. Religious and political organizations against gay people. Citizens against immigration. Extremist against anyone who doesn't live by their own moral compass. In fact, we're so divided, that we have yet to conquer the endless wars (human trafficking, drugs, gun control laws, etc.) that affect people of many diasporas daily. Fear. And the only things that reign supreme in this country are fear and misunderstanding within the human race. In the age of technology, we're instantly exposed to so much and are constantly in a race to share/argue our varying opinions, but we will never rise up by standing against each other for our varying views, which is why I try so hard to be less argumentative these days. It doesn't solve anything to be as intelligent as I am and not be able to have conversations with someone who sees things differently. 
In conclusion, we're not all writers, but during a time like this, we all have something valuable to say, do, and contribute, even when it's not publicized on social media. Even when our actions seem too small to stand a chance against the rage and ignorance that plague this country, we have to be smart and proactive about where we stand. Over the past few days, I've noticed how eloquently many people have unconsciously scripted some really powerful thoughts that can easily be transferred to an essay or letter to their local legislation. If you aren't sure of what you can do when tragedies occur, keep working until you find solutions, or at least be apart of the solution, rather than the problem. Your gift - whatever it may be - is your voice, so if you really are a person who believes that BLACK LIVES MATTER (too), be someone who does something and encourages others to do the same. 

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