With the horrible news about the black real estate brokers arrested for waiting at a local Starbucks without purchasing still being unloaded in news and management not properly being held accountable for a disgusting display of racism, it’s important now more than ever to protect ourselves, to commune in spaces operating for us. We need to support communal havens by us for us, that provide safe environments to create, have conversations, and eat/drink.
On the few warm days, I explored the Kensington neighborhood, in this area that I recently moved into, enjoying pleasant shops in the area, most especially three owned by women of color: Art Dept Philly, Franny Lou’s Porch, and Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse. They each offer unique forms of entertainment and carefree liberation, forms of activism while also serving specific needs. Art Dept Philly is a secondhand boutique that also sells art supplies, handmade cards, and accessories and at the same time hosts Writer Wednesdays, an afterschool arts program led by artist Carmel Brown (owner of Colored Vintage, the shop), and craft workshops on knitting, sewing, and more.
I just fell in love with Franny Lou’s Porch. Named after two important Libra figures: abolitionist/suffragist poet, Francis E. W. Harper (who published the first African American short story) and activist/community organizer Fannie Lou Hamer (cofounder of the National Women’s Political Caucus), I visited on this rainy Sunday morning before work, desiring a cup of something sweet and wonderful. The interior is vibrant and inviting, homages to Africa, African American, and other people of color in a victorious celebratory spirit. The aesthetic is all natural, rustic, and friendly, classic R&B music swirling in the background, feeling like a charming second home.
At the awesome Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse (the first and only black woman owned comic book/coffeeshop in the U.S.), is the land of comic book nerd joy. Books, t-shirts, pins, and more are swarmed in the enticing bright lights alongside my favorites Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Black Panther, Jem and the Holograms, The Walking Dead, and others. Like Art Dept Philly, Amalgam participates in First Fridays and hosts all sort of incredible events for geeks like game and movie nights, book launches, after hour entertainment, quizznos, and more. Just a few weeks ago, the great Erika Alexander (from Living Single to co-writing a one-shot Giles Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic) hosted a book signing (of course I didn’t know about it until Instagram but alas can’t make it all).