Welcome back to The Black Urbanist Weekly. I’m Kristen Jeffers and I’m currently producing this weekly digital newsletter on my site, via email and various other places, to share my thoughts, my Black, Spiritual, Southern, Working-Class, Educated, Queer, Femme thoughts on how places and communities work. Think of this as my weekly column, sitting on your proverbial print paper’s editorial page or as so many other of your favorite newsletters do, in your inbox.
This is edition #21 and I’m back this week with a new theme—To City, With Love (Again). This is, of course, Black History Month and I’ll be sharing and tweeting various historical things. However, the way I really wanted to celebrate this month was to dig into what I love about cities, but centered on my identities as a black woman (this week) queer woman (next week) and a woman entrepreneur on a budget(the following week).
The title of the series comes from an edition of a prior iteration of my newsletter from 2014. Hence the again, as I’m revisiting the idea of dedicating myself to a city with love.
Before we dig into this first installment though, I wanted to let you know about some changes in how I receive correspondence and requests.
With all the issues I’ve been having with my email and unfortunately are still having with my email and some of the links in this very newsletter,
I’ve gone through and established new, verified communication channels. I still would love to work with you and I am very sorry that’s been hard to do with some of the broken links and emails.
For the time being, you can send all emails related to myself or The Black Urbanist to [email protected].
You can book me for one of my lectures and workshops oryour own podcast, radio show, panel discussion or a custom keynote using this Google Form.
If you are a member of the press and you would love to get my expert commentary on deadline, you can reach me at (301) 578-6278.
You can submit jobs to the job board, using this Google Form. Note that posting jobs to this board will only be a free service for a limited time.
And finally, Rail~Volution 2020 has a very special announcement below, before you go. You can join them in advertising your company, organization event, school or initiative by emailing [email protected] as well.
And now, to city with love, as a black woman.
To City, With Love (Again) Part 1: What I Love About the City As a Black Woman
The first time I wrote a newsletter on this topic, back in 2014, I had three things I loved about the city, in general. First, it was the transportation networks. Then it was the literary and artistic culture. Finally, I loved the abundance of food.
I was in my last full year living in North Carolina and having only lived in North Carolina. My mind was looking ahead to my eventual moves. It was deep in the fantasy of what living in another city, a bigger city, and one not named Charlotte or Raleigh or Greensboro would look like.
It was about not needing to drive anywhere because buses and trains were in abundance. How there were so many museum options— for free or low cost. A standout for me was the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which I’d decided to walk in on a trip to go to a Zara for the first time, during a work visit to Chicago in 2012. And it was all kinds of food and I took for granted how easy it was to get Bojangles or a Carolina-style hamburger or hot dog.
I still love those things, but in my black womanhood, what makes me love a city comes down to these three things in this phase, this post-move, post coming out phase of my life.
First, it’s a hair salon that gets me and what I’m trying to do. Many of you with what’s known in the curly hair world as a 3a texture or above struggle with this, no matter your ethnic background.
For black women, especially those of us whose hair doesn’t actually curl, but kink, this can get even more fraught. I would love to, even if I can’t get back to my salon experience in Greensboro, have somewhere that’s not too much of my budget, knows how to do all the kinds of styles one would want in a healthy manner, isn’t stupid inconvenient to get to and isn’t homo and transphobic or anti-feminist.
Getting my hair done is a refuge for me, even more so than nails. I’m in there longer generally and it’s one of the few places in any city that I’ve been able to find other black women and femme-leaning people consistently and in a state of joy. Hence why it’s first on my list of finding comfort in any city.
Second, I never underestimate the value of having a place that cooks food as my family did back in North Carolina. Or, that cooks food that can take me back to that kind of place. It was sad to hear that so many notable black cooks who try to do this nationwide, still struggle in this world of peak restaurant, namely because racism in lending is still a thing. Folks, comfort food is real. It may not be always “soul food”, but it’s food that feeds my soul and when I feel like the rest of the world is against me, I need to know I can roll up in that drive-thru or that shack door and find a little bit of solace.
Third, this is more of a luxury, but having a handcrafting circle that looks like my mom’s sewing room. I’ve been fortunate to find that here in the DC-area specifically and the generational exchange and knowledge have been top-notch. Much like I was concerned about some black-owned salons being cool with me being queer as a straight-appearing person, I worried about the same thing in my craft circles. So far, no big deal, especially at the ones at the public libraries I try to frequent. Emphasis on try, as I get too busy. (Hence why my Kristpattern venture’s a little dormant, but it’s coming back!).
I alluded to what makes life in the city extra lovable for my queerness, but we’ll leave that to next week, and in the following week, I’ll talk about what’s saved my life as someone who cycles through the challenges of being an entrepreneur, when things seem to not stop being more and more expensive.
Other Things On My Mind
- I couldn’t stomach watching the State of the Union, but I did read and want you to read as well, this one centered on women of color from ZORA Magazine.
- Need a new wine pairing? There’s a black woman that can help you with that and even craft your own wine.
- I also need to shout out the Black Beer Chick who is doing the same for beer.
Before You Go
—Rail~Volution 2020 is coming up and they’ve reached out to me to let you know that they are looking for speakers for this year. If you live in or plan on being in Miami September 20-23 and want to share a transit or community development-related project, head to https://railvolution.org/the-conference/conference-information/call-for-speakers/. The call for speakers ends on February 28th. There are also scholarships available.
—Check out Kristpattern on Instagram and DM me if you’re interested in anything for sale over there. It’s not too late to get one of the cards from the Les’s Lighthouse collection and they’re great for helping you or a friend turn your wishes into reality in 2020.
— Book me— on your media platform, as a keynote/lecturer, for one of my workshops or as a panel participant.
—Les, my wonderful life partner, and sales advisor, is great at hyping you up, making you laugh and helping you or your organization make radical changes in your life and health. Join the email list for her company Les’s Lighthouse and lookout for a special announcement from her on March 1.
—Don’t forget to check out my mentee’s Rashida Green’s podcast which also discusses environmental issues from a black woman’s perspective. You can listen to me talk about some of North Carolina’s more notorious environmental issues and the political culture on this episode.
— You too can sponsor The Black Urbanist platform as a company, nonprofit organization, conference or event, institution or agency. Email us at [email protected] and we can schedule a call to discuss email, and social sponsorship options. Thanks again for your monthly pledge!
Thanks for reading! You can get these messages in your email, support the platform financially on Patreon and get special bonuses; follow the platform on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Instagram and if you missed some of the previous weeklies, check out the archives.