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A LIFESTYLE + ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE JULY 2020
CITY LIFE REIMAGINED Made up of the three thriving neighborhoods of Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard, National Landing is redefining urban living. Blending the best of city life with the benefits of the urban outdoors, the area offers unparalleled convenience, while boasting the high quality of life Arlington is known for. National Landing is already home to more than 26,000 residents who value its distinct neighborhood feel. With over 15,000 residential units and another 6,800 in the development pipeline, there are housing options for all lifestyles, ranging from apartments to single-family homes. National Landing attracts active residents, with its wide array of gyms, fitness studios, green space and trails that are perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. It’s also home to a flourishing arts and culture scene, which is promoted and enhanced by the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) through the activation of public spaces and hundreds of events each year. Whether you already call the area home or it is just a quick Metro ride away, next time you’re in National Landing be on the lookout for artwork on several neighborhood storefronts as part of the BID’s recently unveiled #LoveNationalLanding campaign — just one of the many ways the BID has supported local businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. The bold designs created by local artists aim to raise morale and highlight the resilient nature of the community. Dynamic residences, tech-focused companies, mission-driven non-profits, diverse restaurant options and eclectic shops make National Landing a great place to be. nationallanding.org • Follow on Twitter + Instagram @nationallanding • Follow on Facebook @nationallandingBID
TABLE OF CONTENTS
5 District Denizens: A Change Is Gonna Come 9 Calendar: Not So Stir-Crazy
47 9 D.C. Powerhouses
EAT 13 Path to Land Justice
51 Local Journalism
MONICA ALFORD Editor-in-Chief
52 Opinion: Rethinking Love + Hate 54 Joining The Conversation
M.K. KOSZYCKI Assistant Editor
56 Learning to Raise an Ally 70 In Other Words: Augi Water
MUSIC 17 Musicians Mid-Quarantine
PLAY 59 Beginners’ Guide: Paddleboarding 62 Green Spaces
CULTURE 21 The Culture of Style 39 D.C. Fashion Looks Forward 42 D.C.’s Got The Write Stuff
ROBERT KINSLER Publisher
67 Cycling During Covid
FUN 72 Illustration: This Is My Generation
Behind the scenes photo from July cover shoot. Photo by Tanira Dove.
JULIA GOLDBERG Editorial Designer TOM ROTH Key Account Manager CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Kelsey Cochran, Lani Furbank, Kayla Marsh CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kelsey Cochran, J. Indigo Eriksen, Kelsey Frenkiel, Lani Furbank, Kelcie Glass, Trent Johnson, Whitney Ayres Kenerly, Lauren Paylor, David Ross, Claire Smalley, Courtney Sexton, Langford Wiggins PHOTOGRAPHERS Tanira Dove, Krystina Gabrielle, Mike Kim, LAFlicks Photography, Tony Powell ARTISTS James Coreas, Eric Dolgas COVER SUBJECTS Carolyn Becker, Pierre Edwards, Kelcie Glass, Maps Glover COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Tony Powell www.tony-powell.com
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STYLIST Joy Kingsley-Ibeh www.stylebykingsley.com
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
THE CULTURE OF STYLE. Our July issue celebrates the bold, brilliant and authentic D.C. we strive to highlight each month in our magazine. Thank you to our cover subjects Carolyn Becker, Pierre Edwards, Kelcie Glass and Maps Glover and the countless other local visionaries who shared their stories with us this month. It’s been an honor to amplify your voices. This issue is for you. MONICA ALFORD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Behind the scenes of our July cover shoot at Meridian Hill Park. Photos by Tanira Dove.
DISTRICT FRAY |
BLACK LIVES MATTER MURALS. D.C. artists created these beautiful murals celebrating Black lives, artistry and a demand for change. You can find these murals on H Street, 14th Street and other locations throughout downtown D.C. Photos by Krystina Gabrielle // KGabriellePhoto.com.
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DISTRICT DENIZENS | RADAR
DISTRICT DENIZENS | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
WORDS BY LAUREN PAYLOR // PHOTO BY FARRAH SKEIKY
RADAR | DISTRICT DENIZENS Now more than ever, bars and restaurants in the D.C. area are being forced to take a hard look in the mirror. Hiring practices, promotions, educational opportunities and company culture are only a few issues that have displayed discrepancies within the food and beverage sector. Some companies are even working with human resource companies and diversity and inclusion businesses to update their training manuals and guidelines, train their staff and managers, and turn over a new leaf. “It is frustrating to me that there have been all of these performative measures from our governmental structures that say, ‘Okay, we are doing something about this, but these problems still exist,” says Courtney Shepard, a white woman who has been in the food and beverage industry for years and currently works at D.C.-based urban farm Little Wild Things. “It has been very apparent to me that back of house remains largely people of color and front of house is usually largely white,” Shepard adds. “There is no excuse for that anymore.” Shepard’s observation is accurate, and this is only one of the many issues in the food and beverage industry that exists today. We are all familiar with the story of the McDonald’s employee who fought back in Florida last year. Yasmine James, a 20-yearold Black woman, fought off a 40-year-old white man who attacked her and dragged her against the fast food restaurant’s countertop. When the attacker was not given a straw with his order, he became irate and made discriminatory remarks. James was left to protect herself with no help from staff or management, and even had to call the police after the incident. This is absurd. In 2017, a bouncer at El Centro D.F. on 14th Street denied a Black man entry because he was wearing sneakers, while white patrons wearing sneakers were allowed to enter. That employee was immediately fired. What precedent does this behavior set for your employees? “As a food and beverage professional, I am not entirely aware of what my rights are from a patron side or an employee side,” Imani Williams says. Williams, a Black person who currently works at coffee shop and bar Colony Club in Park View, does believe they could have potentially avoided several situations over the years if they were aware of their rights. “I feel like I was not properly trained,” they say of their first management role at 19 years old. “They threw me into the position. I was not prepared, and their expectations were unrealistic.” This happens all too often. There is an acceptable and unacceptable way to act, according to society. The world is not binary. It is not black and white. When Black people receive accolades, awards and accomplishments, it doesn’t eradicate the oppression they face. “You speak so well” is a phrase I know very well. This is an exceptionalizing stereotype, a type of racial microaggression in which an action is framed as interpersonally complimentary but perpetuates negative stereotypical views of a racial or ethnic group. “This couple came in while I was in the middle of a very busy service and said, ‘You know a lot about wine for a Black girl,’” says Simone Mayers, a former bartender at The Royal who now works as a yoga instructor and wellness coach. “It hurt my feelings because I worked really hard and was really good at pairing food and wine. I had just been promoted to bartender trainer and was feeling good. I immediately felt small. They thought it was a compliment.” Mayers says her face dropped when the comment was made and the guests proceeded to ask, “Oh no, did we say something wrong?” 6
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Black people often experience tokenism or “the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and to give the appearance that people are being treated fairly,” according to Merriam-Webster. Establishments are doing themselves a disservice by not keeping the conversation open. Diversity, equity and inclusion are a few ways in which businesses can avoid being active participants in tokenism. Diversity and inclusion companies add a surplus of value to establishments. When you are able to put a word to an action, you can eliminate the possibility of being involved in an unjust act. Additionally, you are able to intervene and take action when these situations arise. Over the last month or so, we have seen the D.C. community come together to lead protests asking for major changes in the judicial system following George Floyd’s death while also organizing food, water and supplies for protesters, and standing in solidarity with the Black community. And in early June, Mayor Bowser had a Black Lives Matter mural painted on the street leading up to the White House. In mid-June, we saw a major shift in the way Dupont Circlebased farmers market FreshFarm selects its vendors. This change was spurred by Puddin’ owner and chef Toyin Alli, who spoke up on behalf of herself and other Black-owned businesses previously excluded from the market’s busiest location. Changes like these allow for a more diverse showcasing of vendors and farmers to ensure there is BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) representation. FreshFarm has already added four Black-owned businesses. In addition, Colony Club recently decided to change the name of their business after five years. “After talking with staff and customers, we’ve learned that the power of that word to hurt is real – no matter the justification for using it,” owner Max Zuckerman says. In late June, cocktail bar Serenata’s beverage director and partner Andra “AJ” Johnson hosted Back to Black, a virtual cocktail pop-up for charity. Roy Boys’ Frank Mills, Thamee’s Richard Sterling and Reliable Tavern’s Kapri Robinson collaborated on the event, along with Maydan and Compass Rose’s new executive pastry chef Paola Velez. Johnson and Robinson are the powerhouses behind DMV Black Restaurant Week and Chocolate City’s Best, respectively. Both aid in amplifying the voices of Black food and beverage professionals in the DMV area. “The purpose of the event was to find a way to mobilize and activate people in the community and the hospitality industry,” Johnson says. The Back to Black pop-up raised more than $11,000 over the course of two days, all donated to various charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. This is a great example of a way to involve the community and promote individuals in the hospitality sector, all while raising money for charity. I urge you all to get involved, and there are many ways to begin. I advise doing extensive research to familiarize yourself with foreign words and terms, being open to dialogue and having conversations about pressing matters in our country, and supporting local Blackowned businesses and local charities. A few of many businesses and organizations you can support are listed on the next page. Together, we’ll make this place a better world to live in. A change is gonna come. Lauren Paylor is a freelance writer, bartender and co-founder of health and wellness company Focus On Health. She is based in Silver Spring, Maryland by way of New York City. FIRST PAGE. Photo of Lauren Paylor.
LOCAL, BLACK-OWNED FOOD + DRINK
D.C. COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Ben’s Chili Bowl // www.benschilibowl.com
Black Artists of DC www.blackartistsofdc.com
Bukom Cafe // www.bukomcafe.com Calabash Tea & Tonic // www.calabashtea.com Cane // www.cane-dc.com DCity Smokehouse // www.dcitysmokehouse.com EatOkra app // www.eatokra.com Florida Avenue Grill // www.floridaavenuegrill.com Georgetown Butcher // www.georgetownbutcher.com HalfSmoke // www.halfsmoke.com
Black Lives Matter DC www.blacklivesmatterdmv.org Chocolate City’s Best www.chocolatecitysbest.com DMV Black Restaurant Week www.dmvbrw.com
Here’s The Scoop! // www.heresthescoopdc.com MLK Deli // www.themlkdeli.com Negril the Jamaican Eatery // www.negrileats.com NuVegan Café // www.ilovenuvegan.com Oohh’s & Ahh’s // www.oohhsnaahhs.com Po Boy Jim Bar & Grill // www.poboyjim.com Puddin’ // www.dcpuddin.com Sankofa Video Books & Café // www.events.sankofa.com
Freedom Fighters DC Follow on Instagram @freedomfightersdc Life Pieces to Masterpieces www.lifepieces.org NAACP // Washington, D.C. Branch www.naacpdc.org
Sweet Home Café at the National Museum of African American History and Culture // www.nmaahc.si.edu (Temporarily closed due to Covid)
National Coalition of 100 Black Women www.ncbw.org
The Sweet Lobby // www.sweetlobby.com
National Museum of African American History & Culture www.nmaahc.si.edu
Zenebech Restaurant // www.zenebechdc.com
JUNETEENTH. This annual holiday on June 19 commemorates the news of the effective end of slavery reaching Galveston, Texas. In the District, its celebrations were marked by protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Photos by Mike Kim // Kimchi Photography.
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RADAR | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
As restrictions continue to loosen or lift entirely around the District, there are actual live events for you to enjoy alongside regularly scheduled online programming – from outdoor plays to online book talks. Without further ado, let’s dive into this iteration of Not So Stir-Crazy Radar. WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN
The National Museum of Women in the Arts is hosting weekly 30-minute online art chats. The “Confronting History” chat will address how popular art historical subjects compound with contemporary concerns. 5 p.m. Free. @womeninthearts // www.nmwa.com
Take a trip to France (a.k.a. your living room) for Bastille Day. Join the virtual festivities and enjoy live French music, cooking and mixology lessons, dancing, wine tasting and more. Wear your finest beret to really get in the spirit. 8:30-11 p.m. Tickets $10-15. @thingstododc //www.thingstododc.com
ART CHAT: CONFRONTING HISTORY
BUSBOYS ON LIVE
Busboys and Poets has long been a space where the community can gather together for live events, along with a good meal. Busboys On Live, their virtual open mic and poetry slam, will continue to be held online until they can provide the experience in person safely. 8-10 p.m. Free. @busboysandpoets // www.busboysandpoets.com
LIVING ROOM SESSIONS FINALE
The Sixth & I and DCist virtual concert series is coming to a close. Catch their last show if you haven’t had the chance to enjoy one yet. Celebrate some of D.C.’s greatest musicians at this virtual set featuring Be Steadwell, Lotion Princess, Luke Stewart and more. Free with RSVP. Donations encouraged. 3:30-5:30 p.m. @sixthandi // www.sixthandi.org
THE WIZARD OF OZ AT THE SUMMER GARDENS THEATRE
Enjoy the classic The Wizard of Oz onstage at the Summer Gardens Theatre in Hyattsville. The outdoor theater will allow you to enjoy staged performances once again in a safer manner than indoors. Masks and social distancing will be required. 8 p.m. Tickets $5-10. Summer Gardens Theater: 1515 Columbia Ave. Landover, MD; www.summergardenstheatre.com
7.11-7.31 REEL CLASSICS
The Willard InterContinental is hosting Reel Classics every Friday this month, including a three-course meal, unlimited beer and wine, a complimentary welcome cocktail, and a classic film played for you in the transformed Grand Ballroom. Masks will be required as this is an indoor event. Grease will be the first film featured in this series on July 11, followed by Rocky on July 17, Jurassic Park on July 24 and Pretty Woman on July 31. 7 p.m. Tickets $100. The Willard InterContinental: 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.washington.intercontinental.com
STORMING THE BASTILLE BASH
ANGEL OLSEN’S COSMIC STREAM 2
Musician Angel Olsen is hosting the second iteration of her livestream concert Cosmic Stream. This time, Olsen will be joined by Hand Habits for the online concert experience. 9 p.m. Tickets $15-35. @angelolsenmusic // www.noonchorus.com
COLIN JOST AT SIXTH & I
Sixth & I will be hosting one of SNL’s head writers, Colin Jost, in conversation with Andrew Yang for an online talk on Jost’s new memoir, A Very Punchable Face. Get tickets to this limited-access program before it sells out. 7 p.m. Tickets $10, $32 includes a signed copy of the book. @sixthandi // www.sixthandi.org
#GENGEO CAREERS IN EXPLORATION National Geographic is bringing the exploration to you. In their ongoing Explorer Classroom series, join award-winning photographer, conservationist, mountaineer and storyteller Gab Mejia and host and Young Explorer Sahar Mohammadzadeh in conversation. Mejia and Mohammadzadeh will discuss Mejia’s career, conservation work and exploring the planet with National Geographic. Register online for your link to the discussion. 2 p.m. Free. @insidenatgeo // www.nationalgeographic.org
PROFS + PINTS ONLINE: WOMEN + THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Profs and Pints brings college faculty members and lovers of education into bars, cafés and other off-campus venues to discuss ranging intellectual topics. Now, Profs and Pints is taking the conversation online. Join for “Women and the French Revolution,” a discussion on feminism’s role and rise in France’s transformative war hosted by Amy Leonard, associate professor of history at Georgetown University. 7 p.m. Tickets $12. @profsandpints // www.profsandpints.com DISTRICT FRAY |
RADAR | NOT SO STIR-CRAZY
7.15-8.27 WEDNESDAY YOGA
Join the D.C. Public Library every Wednesday through August 27 for a midday break of relaxation. Unwind and reset for 30 minutes with the D.C. Public Library and Yoga District Wednesdays at noon starting July 15. All skill levels welcome. @yogadistrict // www.yogadistrict.com; @dcpubliclibrary // www.dclibrary.org
AMINATOU SOW + ANN FRIEDMAN AT SIXTH & I
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, hosts of the popular podcast Call Your Girlfriend, are joining New York Times bestselling author Mari Andrew and Sixth & I for a night to talk about relationships and what they really mean. 7 p.m. Tickets $10, $31 includes a signed copy of the book. Free for those in financial need. @sixthandi // www.sixthandi.org
DIGITAL SPEED DATING
Beat the struggles of isolation by connecting with others through shared experiences and fun icebreakers set up by DC Fray at their digital speed dating. Maybe you’ll find the one, or just someone to re-binge Tiger King with you. One night includes five virtual dates. 7 p.m. $14. @dcfray // www.dcfray.com
7.14 + 7.28 DC FRAY TRIVIA
DC Fray has more online trivia lined up this month, this time with some new themes. Log in on July 14 to prove your knowledge of all things zombie, or join July 28 for a showdown of adult cartoons like The Simpsons and Family Guy. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $9. @dcfray // www.dcfray.com
7.15-9.15 TWILIGHT GOLF LEAGUE
Make your game of golf even better by joining a twilight golf league with the Twilight Golf Association. Teams of four will play nine holes each week for a 10-week season beginning July 15. All skill levels welcome. Tee times 5-6 p.m. League entry $49, $20 walking round, $30 round with cart. Northwest Golf Course: 15711 Layhill Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.twilightgolfassociation.com 10 | JULY 2020
CRUISE ON THE POTOMAC
Take in the sights of D.C. from the water. Enjoy smooth sailing as you pass major attractions such as the Kennedy Center, Theodore Roosevelt Island, the Key Bridge and more. Take advantage of the $3 margarita specials to beat the heat! Masks required. Boat boards at 11:45 a.m., leaves at noon. Tickets $30. Georgetown Harbour: 3050 K St. NW, DC; www.thingstododc.com
DC DESIGN TOURS: COLUMBIA HEIGHTS + ADAMS MORGAN
Dive into some of D.C.’s most beautiful neighborhoods with an in-depth tour by DC Design. As you walk through the area, learn all about D.C.’s socialites, civil rights activists, castles, embassies, temples and more. Bring comfortable walking shoes and a bottle of water. 2 p.m. Tickets $20-35. Meet at Meridian Hill Park: 1559 W St. NW, DC; www.dcdesigntours.com
Aminatou Sow + Ann Friedman. Photo from callyourgirlfriend.com.
HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST DISCUSSION WITH IBRAM X. KENDI
Due to the outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter movement after recent tragedies in our country, books like 2019 Guggenheim Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist have been flying off the shelves. Kendi will join Dr. Charlene M. Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College, to discuss his book and the themes within it. Register online for a link to the event. 7 p.m. Free. @pgcmls // www.pgcmls.info
ArtJamz is bringing out your inner Monet with their virtual art programs. Join a local artist for a guided painting class on Zoom. If you need some materials, ArtJamz will set you up with an at-home paint kit including one stretch canvas, six 2-ounce paint containers, two paint brushes and, of course, one artist mustache. 8 p.m. A kit with a 12 x 16 canvas will cost $30, and a kit with an 8 x 10 canvas costs $25. Class $10. @artjamz // www.artjamz.co
PSALM’S SALONS AT STUDIO THEATRE
Psalm’s Salons are an online community space hosted by director, educator and theatre-maker Psalmayene 24, meant to highlight the work of creatives and boost local and Black-owned businesses. Join Galvanize DC founders J.J. Johnson and Jefferson A. Russell, actor Justin Weaks and Jjana Valentiner, executive producer of the Making Space to Breathe/Gathering to Grieve vigil for the July 23 Salon. 5 p.m. Free. @studiotheatre // www.studiotheatre.org Yoga Class. Photo by Anupam Mahapatra.
ROSSLYN ROCKS! CONCERTS
DC Fray is hosting some of the first post-quarantine concerts in Rosslyn at the Central Place Plaza. The Rosslyn Rocks! Concert series will be held July 23, July 30 and August 6. Lineup to be announced. 6-8 p.m. Free. Central Place Plaza: 1800 N. Lynn St. Arlington, VA; @rosslynva // www.rosslynva.org
LIMOUSINE SECRET AGENT RACE
Race around our nation’s capitol in a night of international espionage. Ride in a luxury limousine with your team as you represent secret agents in the Cold War. Will the USSR or America win? It’s up to you. Masks required. 6:30 p.m. Tickets $65. Rosslyn Metro Station: 1850 N. Moore St. Rosslyn, VA; www.thingstododc.com
DC POLO SOCIETY
Enjoy a mix of tradition and fun for the whole family with the DC Polo Society and DC Fray. Expect signature cocktails, food trucks and yard games at this classic summer event. 2-5 p.m. Prices to be announced. DC Polo Society: 14660 Hughes Rd. Poolesville, MD; @dcpolosociety // www.dcpolo.com; @dcfray // www.dcfray.com
DRIVE-IN AT MOSAIC
Mosaic’s annual drive-in series is back. Marvel fans, rejoice: Captain Marvel is gracing the Mosaic screen July 26. Watch blockbuster hits from the comfort of your car on the grounds of a historic drive-in theater. For social distancing reasons, no walk-ups, bike-ups or picnickers are allowed. Lot opens at 6:45 p.m. $28 per car. Market Garage: 8295 Glass Alley, Fairfax, VA; www.mosaicdistrict.com DISTRICT FRAY | 11
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THE PATH TO LAND JUSTICE
WORDS BY LANI FURBANK
Only 1.4 percent of farmers in America today – about 48,000 – are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared to the historical peak in 1920 when there were more than 925,000 Black farms, the current figure begs the question: What’s changed? The answer doesn’t lie in trends or shifting demographics, but intentional, systematic efforts to push Black farmers off their land, starting from the moment Andrew Johnson took office and continuing through the civil rights era, the effects of which are still reverberating today. “People don’t get the depth of what happened,” says Paula Johnson, the curator of food history at the National Museum of American History (NMAH). “In the civil rights era, to have this systematic discrimination both locally and at the federal government level, that resulted in the loss of a significant percentage of acreage is something that just doesn’t jive with people’s ideas about the civil rights movement.” To understand the history of injustice surrounding land ownership, look back to the end of the Civil War. “You have many African Americans who were formerly enslaved and suddenly they 14 | JULY 2020
have their freedom, but they weren’t given any tools whatsoever to deal with that freedom and make a living,” Johnson explains. The phrase “40 acres and a mule” may be familiar – this refers to the 400,000 acres of confiscated confederate land set aside for newly freed African Americans. However, after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, President Andrew Johnson reversed this order and that land was returned to its former owners. “Owning a farm, being able to raise food, to accumulate wealth in that way, to have something to leave to your family – all of that is of tremendous value and empowerment,” NMAH's Johnson says. “This idea of 40 acres and a mule, which seemed so promising to people, was just pulled out and it became a symbol for broken promises that of course continued into history.” Against all odds, some Black farmers managed the challenging transition between sharecropping to tenancy and eventually to ownership, as Pete Daniel illustrates in his book Dispossession. “Slaves emerged into freedom with a keen understanding of farming that allowed many to navigate the boundary between exploitation and sufficiency,” the historian writes. Photos courtesy of Dreaming Out Loud.
EAT “A combination of husbandry, diplomacy and ambition allowed Black farmers to secure land, and the fact that so many succeeded during some of the darkest years of racist violence testifies to their character and determination.” Black farmers owned approximately 16 million acres of farmland in 1910, but own about a quarter of that figure – 4.7 million acres – today. In his book, Daniel lays out the findings from a March 1965 report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “‘Equal Opportunity in Farm Programs: An Appraisal of Services Rendered by Agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture’ revealed that Blacks had no input in policy, had no representation on county agricultural committees, were refused loans and benefits, and suffered encompassing discrimination.” “At the moment that civil rights laws promised an end to discrimination, tens of thousands of Black farmers lost their hold on the land, in part because of the impact of science and technology on rural life but also because they were denied loans, information and access to programs essential to survival in a capital-intensive farm structure,” he continues. This is coupled with individual accounts of land theft by intimidation, violence and murder, some of which were laid out in an 18-month investigation by the Associated Press that documented 107 cases totaling more than 24,000 acres of land lost. “With the history of this country, there has been an abusive relationship between Black people and land,” says Xavier Brown, founder of Soilful City, a D.C.-based organization he describes as dedicated to “reconnecting Black folks back to land and back to our agricultural roots.” Soilful City is part of the Black Dirt Farm Collective, which is a member of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA). Organizations like these work to rectify decades of injustice through organizing, education, advocacy and action. Brown has been growing food for the past seven years and says his involvement with collectives has been enlightening. “There’s a political education process: You learn about the history of the country in a different way from your public school history," he says. "When people talk about urban farming, it’s about starting a garden, teaching kids about kale, broccoli, all that type of stuff, but they completely skip over the political aspect of food and how the industrial food system right now is based off the plantation." Soilful’s work for the past four years has been to build support for Black growers, in part through the sale of a hot sauce called Pippin Sauce. The organization also puts an emphasis on regenerative economics. “I live in Southeast, so [I hire] youth from my neighborhood of Bellevue to work with me every summer and educate them on agriculture, small business and things of that nature,” he explains. Dreaming Out Loud is also a member of the NBFJA, with multiple arms working toward racial justice and food access, including a food hub, a Black farm community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription with sliding scale pricing, an entrepreneurship training program and a 2-acre diversified urban farm at Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast D.C.
SUPPORT BLACK FARMERS Dig deeper with these additional organizations dedicated to supporting Black farmers in the Mid-Atlantic and nationwide. All descriptions are courtesy of the organizations' social media accounts or websites.
Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund
“A self-sustaining collaboration to preserve our ancestors’ value paradigm anchored in collective land tenure, spirit-culture reclamation and ecological harmony.” www.acresofancestry.org
Black Church Food Security Network
“Utilizes an asset-based approach in organizing and linking the vast resources of historically African American congregations in rural and urban communities to advancing food and land sovereignty.” www.blackchurchfoodsecurity.net
Black Dirt Farm Collective
“A collective of Black farmers, educators, scientists, agrarians, seed keepers, organizers and researchers guiding a political education process.” Follow on Instagram @b_d_f_c.
Black Land and Power
“Building a land-based movement for Black liberation [and] developing interdependent strategies that move us away from extractive economies dependent on the violent enclosure of land, labor, culture, power, wealth and spirit.” www.reparationssummer.com
Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.) "A national nonprofit dedicated to reversing small farmland loss to ensure generational wealth and reducing hunger in rural low-income communities.” www.30000acres.org
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives “A nonprofit cooperative association of Black farmers, landowners and cooperatives [...] organized by state associations with field offices serving a primary membership base in the Southern states.” www.federation.coop
George Washington Carver Urban/Small Farmer’s Coalition, Inc. “Building an organizational structure that is primarily focused on connecting underserved rural farmers/landowners with urban families and communities to address the food and economic disparities that exist within the service areas of our coalition.” www.gwc-usfc.org
National Black Farmers Association
“A nonprofit organization representing African American farmers and their families in the United States [and serving] tens of thousands of members nationwide.” www.nationalblackfarmersassociation.org
National Black Food and Justice Alliance
“A coalition of Black-led organizations working towards cultivating and advancing Black leadership, building Black self-determination, Black institution building and organizing for food sovereignty, land and justice.” www.blackfoodjustice.org
The Rural Coalition
“An alliance of farmers, farm workers, indigenous, migrant and working people from the United States, Mexico, Canada and beyond, working together toward a new society that values unity, hope, people and the land.” www.ruralco.org
Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network
"A regional network for Black farmers committed to using ecologically sustainable practices to manage their land and the natural systems on it in order to grow food and raise livestock that are healthy for people and the planet.” www.saafon.org
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“One of the core principles for us is really being able to provide meaningful employment for people within our communities,” says Dreaming Out Loud’s farm director, Violet King. Another aspect of the organization’s work is advocacy to promote land access and support infrastructure-building. “Black people don’t have access to land in the same way that white farmers do,” she says. “Land isn’t passed down through the generations. So maybe somebody’s grandparent or somebody’s great-grandparent was a farmer, but then if you lose that land, someone like me, I don’t have any family members who have land. So, it’s going to be much harder for me to start a farm business.” “Then when they get the land, they don’t have the funds necessary to have the infrastructure that you need to have a fullfledged operation,” she continues. “I think people don’t realize how much goes into growing food, or into raising chickens or cattle, and how much capital you need up front.” King says this lack of access to capital is due to a combination of the wealth gap and discriminatory or predatory loan practices by the USDA and private lenders. In addition to the work they do through their organizations, both King and Brown say the only way to achieve true equity is through reparations. “The wealth gap is so large, and because we have been redlined and unable to benefit from stuff that other people have been able to benefit from in this country, while our ancestors did a lot of work to build this agricultural system and build up the country, there doesn’t seem to be another way to rectify that,” King says. Numerous agricultural organizations, like the Acres of Ancestry Initiative and Black Land and Power, have campaigns for reparations, and the proposed congressional bill H.R. 40 would establish a commission to study the concept. The bill has
yet to be put to Congress for a vote; a reparations bill has been introduced in every Congress since 1989. Brown believes that in addition to donating funds and volunteering time to organizations working toward land and food justice, taking time for education is one of the most important steps toward equity. “Having dialogue with each other is important so people can understand what’s actually going on outside of the romanticized version of urban agriculture that’s promoted,” he says. “If you’re not educated on what’s going on, even if you’re well-meaning, you become a tool for the system and you end up replicating how you’ve been socialized.” Learn more about Soilful City on Instagram @soilful and look out for their new website. Check out Dreaming Out Loud at www.dreamingoutloud.org or @doldc on Instagram.
SUGGESTED READING Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land by Leah Penniman Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights by Pete Daniel Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement by Monica M. White
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WORDS BY NAME WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI
MUSIC Music is, at its very core, a social activity. Sweaty concerts, band practice, collaborative writing – it all happens with closeness, both physical and emotional. So, what happens to creators when being apart mid-pandemic is the new reality for the foreseeable future, adding complications to rehearsals, writing, touring and more? When speaking to three local outfits about the implications for their music, it’s clear that no one is slowing down. Instead, all continue creating and innovating with a renewed sense of resilience and love for music as a medium.
Crystal Casino Welcomes The New
The name Crystal Casino may be unfamiliar to some, but the three people behind the band have several albums under their belt to prove they’re no newcomers to the world of D.C. music, or that of indie rock in general. Recently, the band formerly known as The Colonies has been through a season of positive change: new band member, new post-graduate life, new album and perhaps most notably, a new name. “We all just thought it was the right time to do it,” says vocalist and guitarist Pete Stevens of the new name. “It’s been really nice seeing the positive support from all of our fans about it. They really appreciated having awareness to even change it in the first place. A lot of people might not even know the implications of the name, so they appreciated that we were aware of that fact and then were active in changing it.” The updated moniker was announced via a livestream presented by AdMo’s Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House and Spin Magazine, and also celebrated another element of newness: the release of their fourth album, Someone When You Want It. Since graduating from George Washington University last year, the band experienced some changes in lineup, most notably with the addition of guitarist Jarrod Hendricks. Stevens notes that he’s excited this record has Hendricks’ stamp on it, as he brings some new influences to the already diverse table that makes up Crystal Casino’s impeccably catchy sound. “I come from a different background musically than these guys,” Hendricks explains. “I’m from blues and ’70s rock, but also more modern artists like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift. I’m going with different influences than [Stevens’ and drummer Joey Mamlin’s], which are more alternative rock and indie rock. I really haven’t dabbled too much in that. But I’m integrating more of my influences.” The merging of Hendricks’ sound with the cool indie rock that Mamlin and Stevens have crafted over the years is not only evident, but incredibly effective. Take the song “Drunk Text(h)er,” for example: The bluesy guitar, anchoring drums and an earworm of a hook make for an iconic summer song. And while releasing music mid-pandemic is not ideal in the sense that traditional touring is on pause, the band hopes Someone When You Want It provides a slice of happiness to those who listen. 18 | JULY 2020
FIRST PAGE. Crystal Casino’s Jarrod Hendricks, Pete Stevens + Joey Mamlin. Photo by Ali Akbar.
“For me, every new project somebody I’ve been a fan of has released during quarantine has been a very nice, pleasant break in this sort of monotony,” Mamlin says. “I hope we can provide that for people [and] give you something a little extra special – something that breaks up just a day in, day out slog of quarantine.” If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that a lot of change can happen in a short amount of time. But take it from Crystal Casino: Sometimes those changes can be good, and in their case, emblematic of bigger and better things to come. Follow the band on Instagram @crystalcasinoband and on Twitter @crystalcasinodc for the latest.
Den-Mate Returns To Roots
When asked to describe the sound she makes under the name Den-Mate to someone who has never heard her music, Jules Hale depicts it as “escapism if your escape was an adventure-packed city night, floating in a bubble in space.” While abstract at first read, anyone who has spent quality time with her two previous records will know the feeling DenMate evokes, and that perhaps such an escape through the city in a dreamy, safe bubble is just what we all need right now. Luckily, Hale has new music on the horizon despite the obvious challenges of our current reality. “Music campaigns take a lot of time to plan,” Hale says. “We started talking about this release last fall, and around February, everything was set in action. I wanted to still release because when lockdown first started, music is what was getting me through each day.” So far, Hale has released two excellent songs, “It’ll All Come Back” and “All My Friends,” from her upcoming EP Hypnagogia. As the name implies (hypnagogia refers to the dreamlike state right before drifting off to sleep), the EP’s first two songs are hazy, introspective and beautiful – fitting for the hot D.C. summer nights we all love but might know a bit differently in 2020. Hypnagogia, out July 24, has also afforded Hale the opportunity to rediscover some of the sounds and influences that are foundational to her overall body of work. “This EP was getting back to the roots of making this in my own studio, and I wanted to explore more of my electronic sound, whereas [previous album] Loceke was just as much of a rock record as it was electronic.” Time at home has also been an adjustment for Hale. Still, she’s taking the time to acquiesce to this new state of being in all aspects of her creative life. “It definitely comes in waves. Sometimes, I’ll be pouring with creative energy and other times, I’ll just want to paint and not work on music. [I’m] definitely keeping creative every day in some aspect, though.” And as far as lessons learned about herself in quarantine, Hale says she’s realized having nothing to do is a gift to be used wisely. “I’ve been teaching myself [to play] the cello. I use it a lot in my music and wanted to make my own samples and tracks.” Should you be so inspired to lean into the creative ebb and flow of quiet summer nights at home, Den-Mate’s music is the perfect soundtrack to exploring new outlets, just as Hale has done herself with this gift of time. Visit www.den-mate.com for the latest from Hale. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @imdenmate.
Kokayi Creates Amid Change
As a musician, producer, educator, Halcyon Arts Lab fellow and much more, Kokayi has never been one to shy away from innovation in his work. His time in quarantine has been no exception. Whether he’s using technology to create or recentering himself to allow for space to relax and reconnect with loved ones, this time has been transformative for the musician and audiences who have followed along. Kokayi’s music spans and defies genre. “[It’s] just an amalgamation of what it is to be from here,” he says of the overarching influence his hometown of D.C. has on his work. “So, you’re going to get influences of punk, go-go, R&B, hip-hop and jazz. Everything is built from my history of listening, being a fan of music and growing up in this specific environment.” Though D.C. serves as the thread connecting the themes and sounds permeating Kokayi’s music, he’s able to leverage his skills as an independent artist to work with people around the globe – even while in lockdown. “Being in a creative space allows you the opportunity to work with creative technology. The pivot from outside to inside as far as work was concerned was easy, but I miss the stage.” While a European tour he’d planned for this year was canceled, Kokayi is taking this opportunity to pivot in other ways, too. “That also allowed me an opportunity to concentrate on family and relationships, and catch up with my kids and be like, ‘Okay, this is what I really need to do. I need to mow the lawn.’ Now I go outside and grow plants. I’m [also] a plant dad.” Kokayi is also taking advantage of and acknowledging not having the pressure of time and production resting on his shoulders. “I’ve been able to be gentle with myself and give myself the opportunity to just chill out. I don’t have to go so fast. I don’t have to finish everything.” While he may be moving at a different pace, don’t expect a full stop anytime soon. Kokayi recently released two singles, “Triangles” and “Pressure,” from upcoming album Et Tu Brute. Connecting with fans via social media can be pivotal to any artist at this time, and Kokayi has taken it a step further by using his platform, notably Instagram, to educate fans and followers on systemic racism and police brutality. “During the time we are fighting two pandemics at the same time – Covid and racism – I find that I don’t want to promote myself a lot. Not that I feel guilty about doing it, [I] just feel like there is more important stuff to do and more important things to say.” Kokayi’s work has always dealt with what it means to be Black in America, so the use of his platform to illuminate the reality so many Black people face is a natural fit within his body of work. “I feel like the best thing I can do with my platform in the meantime, aside from posting a square and going down to a protest, is to push those messages out in a socially engaging way so that [my] fan base also understands that as a human being, you have these other things that are going on as well.” Be it a new song, multimedia project, garden or Instagram post, Kokayi is still deep in the work of creating – just at his own speed this time. For more on Kokayi, visit www.kokayi202.com and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @kokayi. Learn more about the Halcyon Arts Lab Fellowship for emerging artists at www.halcyonhouse.org.
SECOND PAGE (TOP TO BOTTOM). Kokayi. Photo by Lexey Swall. Den-Mate. Photo courtesy of subject.
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M I X PA C K
1 2 X 1 2 OZ C A N S | B O L D R O C K .CO M / H A R D - S E LTZ E R | 4 % A LC BY VO L
While these 20 individuals could rock any runway, their style is about more than their threads. We’ve chosen our visionaries because they are the pulse of the city – creating art, growing businesses and building community with an air of magnetism, individuality and flair. They’re setting the tone for innovation, artistry and expression, and they just happen to look great doing it. We’ve asked them what style means to them and how they define D.C.’s unique style identity.
WORDS BY LANI FURBANK // PHOTOS BY TONY POWELL
22 | JULY 2020
CULTURE It may not seem like it at first glance, but Carolyn Becker’s two passions – thrifting and veganism – are cut from the same cloth. They’re both wrapped up in the life she leads as a sustainable living advocate. Thrifting came first, as she followed the example of her saving-savvy parents while growing up in Bethesda. She jokes that she was “born at the thrift store,” and that connection is still just as strong today. Every aspect of the bright, colorful, patterned outfit she’s wearing on the cover is secondhand, procured through expert shopping at thrift stores – mostly Goodwill. Becker’s love of thrifting is central to her Instagram account, @petite_punk, where she shares secondhand finds and sustainable living tips. She also works for Goodwill of Greater Washington as the senior manager of communications and community engagement, handling social media and photography, managing the blog, and planning events for community-focused platform Finding Your Good. She describes her style as low-key, eccentric, ’80s-inspired and “somewhat awkward,” and says in recent years, she’s learned to stop worrying about what others think. “As you grow up and get older, you shed different roles and grow into your sense of self through your experiences.” That sense of self was also shaped by her stature, which is prominently announced via her Instagram handle and bio. Standing at 4 feet, 9 inches, Becker says her height has always set her apart. “It’s something that will never change. I think being petite inherently has formed my identity, in terms of being comfortable with standing out and being different.” Though she has been teased about her height in the past, she’s come to embrace this unique aspect of herself. “I’m very proud to be petite, because being petite has allowed me to grow in many ways,” she says. “I’m this height. I will get some attention for X, Y and Z reasons. So, why not be proud?” Both her stature and personal style make her a memorable figure around town, whether she’s hunting for vintage or locally made pieces at her favorite retail spots like Goodwill, Meeps, Fia’s Fabulous Finds and Femme Fatale, or eating her way through the city. Veganism is something Becker adopted a little later in life – approximately four years ago, when a friend challenged her to try going vegan for a week. She breezed through that trial week and hasn’t looked back. “It was easy to transition from being vegetarian to vegan,” she says. “I just went full force and kept going.” In making everyday choices, Becker sees myriad similarities between secondhand shopping and a vegan diet, namely conscious consumption. She makes the point that what you consume affects the environment, and others. “The way that a food is made and packaged affects the world in similar ways as how a piece of clothing is made and how it affects the people who make it; the animals who are harmed in the process or affected; how it’s sold. They operate in very similar ways.” In other words, she says, both require being mindful and thinking about what footprint you’re making when you support certain brands and make purchases. “In an effort to live more sustainably, I’m really trying to evaluate what I do and don’t need, which has led me to significantly downsize my closet and rethink what necessities are.” That mentality is what guides her when sharing resources and communicating with her Instagram audience via @petite_punk and her food-focused platform @dcveganlife.
“In an effort to live more sustainably, I’m really trying to evaluate what I do and don’t need, which has led me to significantlY downsize my closet and rethink what necessities are.” She’s also started rescuing food from grocery store dumpsters in an effort to combat food waste. “I am doing a lot of learning as I’m going into different grocery store dumpsters in terms of what brands I want to support and how much is being thrown away.” During the pandemic, Becker has been cooking at home a lot more, either with rescued food or with groceries she buys at her go-to stores like MOM’s and Yes! Organic Market. She still loves getting takeout from spots like VegHeaven and Smoke & Barrel, and her all-time vegan hit list includes Little Sesame, Calabash Tea & Tonic, Bethesda Bagels, Busboys and Poets, Roscoe’s Pizzeria, Senbeb Cafe, and Elizabeth’s Counter. These are just some of the restaurants she regularly highlights on Instagram. “I’ve always viewed @dcveganlife as not my page, but the community’s page,” she says. “I always use it to amplify businesses across the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area.” She’s also been using that platform for fundraising and advocacy, like her recent campaign in support of the Afro-Vegan Society, whose mission is to “offer information, resources and support to encourage and inspire people in marginalized communities to transition to vegan living.” “Time is money, and sometimes education takes up a lot of time. When one has other competing priorities, it can be hard.” That’s why she supports the organization’s educational work to make veganism accessible to all. “Whether it’s with Goodwill or my [own Instagram accounts], I go at everything I do with, ‘How can I inform or educate or help the community?’” she says. “I want to build community and make others be friends with each other, especially unified over similar passions, beliefs or interests.” Learn more about Becker and connect with her at @petite_punk or @dcveganlife on Instagram. DISTRICT FRAY | 23
24 | JULY 2020
CULTURE Visual artist Pierre Edwards sees both his work and his personal style as a way to communicate without words. “The ability to put on a garment and feel a different way has always been very interesting to me,” he says. He takes inspiration for his sense of fashion from his dad, who immigrated to the United States from Guyana in the 1980s and eventually settled in Prince George’s County, where Edwards was born and raised. “I remember watching my dad get dressed when I was a kid. It was a special moment to me, just watching him. As a young kid, you geek out about every single thing your dad does. I always remember, like, ‘Man, I can’t wait ‘til I get dressed and put on cologne.’” His dad’s influence, as well as his Guyanese background, come together in an aesthetic that evokes Caribbean culture and Blue Note Jazz Club artists, with modern elements peppered in. Just as he communicates his heritage through his attire, his creative work is about sharing his experiences.
“I can communicate and use my mediums to help Spearhead this conversation and make the Black experience in America better.
sharing his own perspective in video, photographs, stage visuals and conceptual installations. In recent months, his creative work has shifted. “You speak to the times, and right now for me, it’s very much about wanting to communicate what it means to be Black in America. We’ve gotten to this place [that’s] so divisive. There are people, individuals, brands and corporations that don’t even feel comfortable saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ which makes no sense to me. The only thing we’re trying to do is convince equality.” Edwards became a father last year, and says that has intensified his drive to find purpose in his art. “It’s hard to even describe the feeling that you have when you look at your child,” he says. “I think the sense of focus and clarity comes on pretty thick when you have a kid.” His upcoming work was born out of the national reckoning around race and oppression. “Honestly, this last month-and-a-half has really left an imprint on me that I don’t think will ever wear off. I was an artist that was Black, and I just led by example. But I realized in this time, I have to be more literal.” Whereas previous exhibits explored theoretical topics like alternate dimensions or ultraviolet light rays, he’s now tackling the concrete issue of racism. “I don’t have the privilege to create from such an existential place. I can communicate and use my mediums to help spearhead this conversation and make the Black experience in America better. It’s my duty to do so.” He is currently working with found objects, paint and projections to help others relate to his reality. “I do honestly think a lot of people just don’t understand and I think that understanding is the first step, right? I’m not into the divisiveness at all. I don’t think that it’s beneficial in any type of capacity. I have the ability to create in a way that can spark conversation [and] understanding, which then will hopefully lead to a better experience for people that look like me.” His upcoming pieces will comment on the state of policing: a glass display case full of rubber bullets and a projected piece, “Super Predator 2020,” that pushes back against the moniker originating in the ‘90s that villainized young people of color in urban neighborhoods as violent criminals. He hopes telling these stories will lead to greater empathy. “Without tragedy, there’s no triumph. You have to communicate the tragedy so people can understand the resilience of a people and the power that people hold. I think that a lot of people think when slavery was abolished that everything was cool for Black people, and that’s not true. There’s been many different eras of oppression, even to this day.” His goal is to direct the proceeds from these projects and future work toward a grant for young Black artists, or to develop a Black art curriculum. Edwards largely credits his hardworking parents for his own successes, and similarly, says his efforts today are for the next generation – especially his own daughter. “I realized that I have to do everything that I can to make this world better for her to live in. That’s my only goal.”
It’s my duty to do so.” “For me, being an artist is very much about communicating time, perspective, [and] thoughts and feelings, and trying to speak for individuals [who] maybe don’t necessarily have the medium to speak. It’s always about representing myself, my family and the culture I cling to in the best way I possibly can, and trying to speak for that culture.” He does this through both his own art studio, District Dodger, and his boutique creative studio for commercial work, Studio Sonic, which he runs with partner Eliud Arbelo. “District Dodger is the artist and Studio Sonic is the engine,” he explains. When he’s not crafting narratives for high-profile clients like The Smithsonian, Under Armour and ASICS, he’s
Learn more about Edwards and follow his work on Instagram @districtdodger. DISTRICT FRAY | 25
26 | JULY 2020
CULTURE For someone who looks as glamorous as native Washingtonian with the recent Black Lives Matter protests. The team has Kelcie Glass, it’s somewhat surprising that she doesn’t strive to been designing flyers, printing collateral and painting murals be the center of attention. She’s a communications professional to further the cause. with her own marketing and PR firm, the director of media for “We’re moving in this space, and we’re continuing a creative collective for Black women, the co-owner of a vintage these conversations.” clothing store, and the founder of a new media site dedicated to Most recently, the current social justice movement sparked the exchange of information in support of racial equity. In every an idea for a new undertaking. Glass’ first thought on how one of these roles, her goal is to amplify the voices, stories and to contribute was to create a website that highlights small creative work of others. Black-owned businesses. Her outfits though, like the shimmering yellow gown she’s “A lot of the Black-owned businesses being highlighted are wearing on the cover, can’t help but attract attention. pretty large,” she says. “They still deserve to be supported, but “I always end up looking a little bit more glamorous than I there are a lot of smaller businesses that aren’t getting in the would like to,” she says with big publications, like in the a smile. “I call it Black girl Complex and Cosmo lists.” glam. I’m a bunch of different But she was already seeing “ w e a r e ta l k i n g genres mixed together, and that happening, and wanted to always have a hint of an do something broader. extra something on top.” “I was like, ‘What do we need “Black girl glam” is the right now?’ And I feel like for energy she brings to each of me and my friends, we need about being her projects, which all fall in a hub where we can hit all of the realm of communications those resources in one spot.” and media. Glass graduated So her spark of an idea with a degree in marketing morphed into The Black and public relations. Exchange, an all-encompassing “All of these different things media venture to include a c r e at i v e w o m a n come together to make me news, different Black-owned who I am,” she says. businesses featured weekly, Her first venture was vintage as well as petitions and clothing store Mila & Fire, organizations to donate to. which she started with her best Glass hopes this will allow ta k i n g u p s pa c e . friend during their last year of people to stay focused on the college as a creative outlet before important issue at hand. landing full-on careers. “I feel like there’s so “The way we found a niche much drop-off where you’re in the vintage space was to clicking around, like, ‘Here’s I t h i n k yo u r redesign items we found to where I shop at Black-owned make them a more feminine businesses. Here’s where I fit. Or if something came one can sign a petition.’” way, we could mix it up and It also plays to her strengths. make it signature so that we “[The Black Exchange] is a way weren’t just like every other for me to join the conversations style has a lot vintage online store.” happening right now in an Then came her marketing and authentic way: by writing about PR firm, Kelcie Glass, LLC. She it and marketing what people offers a range of services, from are sharing, [and] marketing press outreach and social media Black-owned businesses. t o d o w i t h t h at.” optimization to advertising That feels more personal for and event management, me just because the world with the goal of supporting is kind of loaded right now, progressive organizations, and I feel like it’s an outlet especially small businesses and an opportunity.” led by women of color. Regardless of which of her She was later brought onto the team for GIRLAAA, a collective many hats she’s wearing on a given day, Glass says her personal that strives to make space for female creatives of color, including style always shines through. artists, DJs, musicians and more. Her role was, naturally, “We’re talking about being a creative woman taking up space. marketing and outreach. I think your style has a lot to do with that.” “A large part of GIRLAAA is amplifying the work creative Connect with Glass at www.kelcieglass.com or @thefire on women are doing already and just centering it. I’m a fangirl Instagram. Learn about her projects at www.blackexchange.co, for everybody, too.” www.milaandfire.com and @girlaaa.world on Instagram. She says GIRLAAA has been very heavily on the front lines DISTRICT FRAY | 27
28 | JULY 2020
CULTURE One look at Charles County native Maps Glover, and you can tell he’s a creator. He’s typically wearing an original piece of art, like the hand-painted jacket, pants and shoes that grace the cover of this issue. As a painter, illustrator and performer, Glover views his personal style as yet another medium to express his ideas. “It’s a protest,” he says. “It’s a response to the world. It’s definitely a response to the box Black folks are put into when it comes to their fashion.” Glover remembers being told how he should and shouldn’t dress by everyone from his employers at art institutions to his own parents. “Even my parents at times would tell me I wouldn’t be able to get to certain levels of success because of the way that I dressed.” Now, through his performance art and his everyday style, he’s turning heads in a positive way. Over time, his mom has come to appreciate his stylistic vision. “There was one time in high school [when I wore] some basketball shorts over top of some long johns.” His mom’s response? “She looked at me like I was crazy. Like, ‘Why the hell would you wear that to school? That’s insane.’ Ten years later, Kanye comes out with the shorts over the joggers. So, my mom literally called me and apologized. She was like, ‘I didn’t realize that you were ahead of the fashion curve.’” His self-embellished garments often come about because of one of the occupational hazards of being a painter.
“Creativity is probably one of the most undervalued skill sets in this country. it is the ability to make something that was invisible visible.”
“As soon as I would paint, it would get on my clothes,” he says. “What am I going to do now? The paint is already there.” It’s also a way to upcycle tired pieces. “I like to take clothes that I’ve worn for a while, and after they’ve gotten to a point of like, I either throw this away or I revamp it, [I ask myself], ‘How do I bring this back to life?’ And so, I’ll paint on it.” Many of the expressive outfits Glover wears have also been used as costumes for performances. The pants pictured here, with a piece of computer hardware sewn into them, were originally created for his performance at the Superfine! Art Fair. “I had a mask on and wires all over my body,” Glover explains. “People could only talk to me through social media, but I was physically there walking around with a sign that said ‘Follow me.’” The jacket is his answer to the times we’re living in. “I feel like we’re literally in flux, and this feels like a battle cry in a way. This feels like I’ve been through it, but somehow it’s dystopian.” The back of the jacket reads “Protect Black Women,” a statement reflective of Glover’s concern that Black women have not been protected enough in society. “It just brings me so much anger and also sadness. I just wanted to bring that to light in the fashion.” Issues of social justice and racial equity are now at the forefront of public discourse, but Glover has been working in this realm for much longer. “I’ve been creating work that responds to police brutality for the last five years,” he says. “It feels like, ‘Oh my God, you’re finally listening to me.’” One of his most powerful performances last year was a protest and tribute to those who lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. “I documented all the people – Black, white, Hispanic, men, women – who have been killed by police brutality, and throughout the year, I was jumping in honor of those people.” He jumped for each of the hundreds of deaths, and fellow artist Timoteo Murphy photographed him at the peak of the jumps. “It was really like their spirits are levitating out of their bodies,” Glover says. His work is also centered on the idea of freedom and the internal dialogues that he has as a Black man. “It’s a lot about identity. It’s a lot about freedom and wanting to express the truest nature of myself and of people who experience life in a similar way that I do, whether it be people who have an awesome relationship with their mom [or] people who love eating crabs on Sundays – just the range of it all.” Whether he’s drawing, painting or performing, he sees boundless worth in the act of creating. “Creativity is probably one of the most undervalued skill sets in this country. It is the ability to make something that was invisible visible. It’s the opportunity to turn a light on for someone in a way that [they were] never able to see or hear or absorb.” In its truest sense, he views creativity as a tool to bring people together. “Creativity is the key to innovation. It’s the key to our evolution. It’s the key to us really seeing each other and uniting as people.” Learn more about Glover and follow his work at www.mapsglover.com or @mapsglover on Instagram. DISTRICT FRAY | 29
His Style: It’s just how I feel comfortable showing up. I love my hair texture, so I don’t cut it. I grow it out as an afro. It’s very reminiscent of the ‘70s with the Black Power Movement, where a lot of Black folks were redefining Black beauty standards, but really making a lot of advancements socially – similar to what’s happening right now. I love rockin’ hats, so I’ll rock a hat, a little fedora. Because I used to wear hand-me-down clothing growing [up] in the projects with my mom raising my two siblings and myself, all of my older brother’s clothing became my clothing. I like to put a little suit together, but with a little flair that’ll separate it from a Capitol Hill thing. So, I add different flavors to it with customized ties from RETHINK Tailoring mixed with different accent colors. It’s really minimalist, too. A big wardrobe isn’t necessary. It’s not about labels, name brands [or] money.
His Style: [I express] my uniqueness with what I believe in, with what I love, in what I wear, in what I do and [in] what I represent. I want to be comfortable [first and] foremost. [I] never know when I have to grab an apron and jump in the kitchen. So, I wear jeans and T-shirts a lot, [and] accessories with cool vintage coats and jackets. I love Stetson hats of all types, and I only wear Adidas Superstar sneakers. On my current bucket list: Adidas will let me design a kitchen shoe with them.
PROGRESSIVE HIP-HOP ARTIST
City Style: D.C. style varies so much because we have so many influences. You have the D.C. that I grew up in: Southeast, east of the Anacostia River-style. You have the uptown folks, which pertains to my experiences growing up here, and that’s a whole different style guide unto itself. My folks from that era might remember Universal Madness, Alldaz Gear, HOBO, Solbiato Sport, etc. Then you have west of Rock Creek Park, which is a totally different vibe. You’ve got Capitol Hill, with their suiting. Then you have international communities and transient D.C. There are so many people from all over the place here contributing to what is now D.C. identity in 2020. It’s an international city, so you get a little bit of everything. It’s a potpourri. Find him at www.christylez.com or @christylezbacon on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
ELIJAH JAMAL BALBED
SAXOPHONIST, COMPOSER + EDUCATOR // FOUNDER, THE JOGO PROJECT
His Style: Style is an important part of my life. As a performer, looking and feeling good onstage impacts my overall performance. It’s a very personal journey. It’s all about colors and contrast. Sometimes, you have to break a few rules to discover something new. My style is a quirky mix between streetwear and GQ. In 2014, I saw one of the greatest jazz musicians – Roy Hargrove (1969-2018) – wear a tux onstage, but with all-white [Nike] Air Force Ones. I remember looking in awe of his swag. As an up-andcoming jazz musician, I always thought you had to wear a suit and tie onstage. Some situations call for that, too. But in that moment, I learned as an artist, you can do what you want. When I’m in my true element, my style is equal parts street and sleek. City Style: D.C. style comes from the culture: go-go, jazz, mumbo sauce, Shooters Sports, Chocolate City, 51st state, DC Fray, “Beat Ya Feet.” The list goes on. If you’re here long enough, you gotta have some D.C.-themed shirts. I recommend Bailiwick and Crank Rock. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @ejbjazz. Learn more about The JoGo Project at www.jogoproject.com or @thejogoproject on Instagram and Facebook. 30 | JULY 2020
CHEF + PARTNER, THE DAIKAYA GROUP
City Style: A wide range of ethnicities and ages makes up D.C. There are people very rooted here, but transitory as well. Khakis to dark suits and white shirts on the Hill, conservative downtown, cool and hip on U Street, young university kids in baseball hats and shorts in Adams Morgan. I’m generalizing here. But my point is, D.C.’s style is all over the place. It’s not like New York City where everyone is just cool. Find him on Instagram @katsuya_fukushima and Twitter @chefkatsuya. Learn about his restaurants at www.daikaya.com or @daikaya1f, @daikaya2f, @haikandc, @bantamkingdc, @hatobadc and @tonaridc on Instagram.
SINGER/SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN, ARTIVIST (ARTISTIC ACTIVIST) + PODCASTER
Her Style: Style is self-expression. Style is confidence. Style is the freedom to be unapologetically you and wave your freak flag (a.k.a. individuality) proudly. My personal style changes from day to day, depending on my mood. One of my favorite quotes is, “What you are to be, you are now becoming.” I dress as who I want to be that day. It might be a sports bra or bikini top coupled with elaborate jewelry, [or] dress pants and platform boots. I might go for the more girly dress coupled with zombie heels, or it might be a bodysuit with kickass boots and my bra showing – because the world is still so scared of women’s bodies. Either way, my style will always encapsulate attitude, femininity and a whole lot of being unapologetic about who I am. City Style: D.C.’s style identity is so diverse, and I love it. I think it’s one of the reasons I wanted to make D.C. my home. I’m originally from New Zealand, but I was a born dual citizen. D.C. is corporate with a little bit of sass, sexy with a little bit of fierce and funky with a little bit of go-go. Wherever I go, I always find myself complimenting – and being complimented by – women and men who just rock who they are through their style. Find her at www.emmagmusic.com or @emmagmusic on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP ON PAGE 30. Christylez Bacon. Photo by Erin Scott Photography. Katsuya Fukushima. Photo by Jennifer Chase. Emma G. Photo by Nick DePinto. Elijah Jamal Balbed. Photo by Nick Moreland // @nickychinito.
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CONTENT CREATOR // MANAGER OF ACCOUNTING OPERATIONS, NATIONAL COOPERATIVE BANK
His Style: I think style is an expression of your inner self. It’s a way to showcase the best part of yourself. While I follow the trends, I don’t normally jump on the bandwagon of what’s new, now and next. I like to find pieces or wear things that I’ve styled in a way uniquely for me. I go by the adage “When you look good, you feel good.” I’m known for being the guy almost always in a suit. Going to events around town, the attire is usually business casual and I really enjoy a great-fitting, bold-patterned suit. I tend to gravitate toward the suit patterns and bold colors that D.C. men usually shy away from. If it’s a more casual setting, you will not see me in athleisure unless I’m going to work out. I tend to opt for an elevated casual look – think of it as preppy with an edge. City Style: I think D.C.’s style identity is evolving. Those who are not from D.C. tend to think Washingtonians have no style. You have to go to New York for real style. But if you think about it, critics are generally looking to what they see most. That’s primarily what they see on the Hill. In reality, most of those people aren’t even from D.C. However, D.C. is much more than the government. D.C. has so much going for it outside of the government, and there’s a growing group of creatives showcasing different and unique fashion styles throughout the other industries in the city. I think this has started a movement and Washingtonians are starting to break away from the idea of cookie-cutter dress. What we’re seeing now is people are caring more about what they look like and showcasing their own individual style and uniqueness. Find him at www.dcfashionfool.com or @dcfashionfool on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
JEN JEAN-PIERRE MAULL
LIFESTYLE BLOGGER // SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, AMERICAN NURSES ASSOCIATION
Her Style: Style is showing and expressing your personality through clothing on your body. I live by the motto “Inhale fashion, exhale style.” What this means is, take what the trend forecast gives you and make it your own. We are all unique and our style offers us a chance to show the world exactly who we are or how we are feeling at that moment. My personal style is relatable with an edge. I love high-waisted, wide-leg pants, anything leather, and jumpsuits are life. Because I tend to wear basic pieces, I look to my jewelry, shoes and hats to elevate my look and allow me versatility. I do love a good statement suit as well. City Style: D.C.’s style identity is eclectic, trendsetting and full of personality, but unfortunately most media outlets have not done a great job in going to the right places to scope it out. D.C. has been seen as the land of the stiff suits, but take a moment to walk on Howard’s campus, U Street, H Street or Marymount’s campus, and you will see something completely different. D.C. is 32 | JULY 2020
not solely Capitol Hill and society galas. There is so much more to this metropolis. Black people have been rocking the coolest gear and showcasing the most unique style in D.C. for the longest, but just not getting the limelight. Find her at www.jenjeanpierre.com or @jenjeanpierre on Instagram, @jennjeanpierre on Twitter and @jjpblog on Facebook.
PRINCIPAL + EXECUTIVE WINE DIRECTOR, IN LIVING KULLER RESTAURANT GROUP
His Style: I am one of those ultra-lucky people who somehow has personal style that largely reflects my literal birth name, and it’s honestly pretty surreal. My name is Max Kuller (pronounced color), and I’ve actually been called Mr. Color (or Colors) by a few people who hadn’t previously known my name. In my artwork, domestic dwellings, restaurants and daily outfits, I adore layering and juxtaposing a range of kaleidoscopic colors, rich textures, bold shapes, patterns, language, symbols, graphics and historical referents to sometimes inspire critical thought, but often to promote fun, diverse thought and bold personal expression from others. And of course, to express myself and my interests. There is a social element of my style as well, as I have found bold expression invites more ice breakers for conversation. City Style: [It’s] always evolving, and in each moment unavoidably in some way reflective of the constant changes resulting from the ever-revolving administrations setting up shop in the city, and often speaking to whatever the political moment [is]. There is a lot of great, diverse personal style on display in an array of ways, especially in our neighborhoods. D.C. is truly one of those places where there is a bit of everything, even if on “normal days” it can seem a bit subdued. Coco Chanel once noted that, “A sense of freedom is always stylish.” When we reflect on the city’s history as the place to make our voices collectively, freely heard, it is clear that if indeed a sense of freedom is stylish, D.C. is perhaps the home of style’s most hallowed ground. Find him on Instagram @maxkuller. Learn more about his D.C. restaurants on Instagram @estadiodc, @oysteroysterdc, @scrappys_bagelbar.
ABA KWAWU PRESIDENT, TAA PR
Her Style: Style is self-expression: a non-verbal depiction of who you are in a moment. My personal style is fashion-forward and bossy for work and more relaxed and creative otherwise. City Style: I’m not sure that D.C. has a style identity, per se. There are so many different types of people, and D.C. is a powerful capital city, and one full of creatives and entrepreneurs as well. Find her at www.taapr.com or @taa_pr and @abakwawu on Instagram and Twitter and @taapublicrelations on Facebook.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP. Barnette Holston. Photo by Diego Leon // @dandyinthebronx. Max Kuller. Photo by Ashley Mitchell, Haystack Media. Aba Kwawu. Photo by Violetta Markelou. Jen Jean-Pierre Maull. Photo courtesy of subject.
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Her Style: There are a few things about fashion and style that are entwined with my personality. I designed my own clothes and shoes in Burma. I picked out the fabric and had somebody make it – I was 10 years old. I still take those kinds of risks and initiatives today. I don’t have any limits. When I met Alice Cooper at his Cooper’stown [restaurant] opening in Phoenix, The Godfather of Shock himself came up to me, looked at my tiger print, studs and leather outfit, and said, “I don’t know how you’re gonna take this, but more people are gonna remember your outfit than mine.” The reason I’m drawn to these vibrant colors is that I was born a mile away from a massive golden structure, Rangoon’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, which is adorned with rubies, sapphire and jade. That vivid imagery has been such a big part of how I decide what makes me happy to wear.
His Style: Style is a person’s way of speaking for [themselves] without having to say a word. [My style is] grandpa chic? Is that a thing? At the core of every outfit, I start with the idea of being comfortable. I can’t feel uncomfortable in any occasion if I’m comfortable with what I’m wearing. I also strive to give casual a really cleaned-up feel and look put together at the same time. Every aspect of my outfit is thought out, from how many buttons are undone at any given time to the amount of cuff my pants have. The day and occasion dictate that. That being said, one day I want to just dress exactly like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris.
EXECUTIVE CHEF + CO-OWNER, THAMEE
City Style: What I see is that it’s like anything goes – from sports teams to high fashion – depending on where you are in the city. There’s a real sense that you can go as wild as you want, but the downside is that it gives the green light to people thinking, “I can just walk out in my pajamas.” Sadly, in the United States, style and fashion are very ageist. There aren’t very many styles, style icons, models or people of my generation who are sought after and celebrated. It seems that after a certain time, especially after retirement, people are not trying to be stylish anymore. They’ve given up their business suit and become drab and bland. That’s why I think people notice it more with me: I still make an effort. Why can’t a woman my age be stylish? Learn more about Thamee at www.thamee.com or @thamee_dc on Instagram.
FOOD BLOGGER + ADVOCATE
Her Style: Style means making your own lane – even when it’s not the standard. I feel like when you find a space where you really feel comfortable, then you settle into your style. And for each person, that space is a little different. [My style is] a mix of no-nonsense, get shit done energy, with a dash of sarcasm and lots of humor. I’m living to dismantle white supremacy, eat good food and do it with a cute top – and most importantly with comfy shoes. As a Black woman often in predominantly white spaces, I have enough discomfort. I don’t have room for that anymore in my personal style. City Style: There’s a pull in D.C. between [the] east and west sides of the city, suited and super casual, young and old, etc. The stark segregation of D.C. makes it feel like there’s multiple identities, but they sometimes scrape up against each other instead of neatly weaving together like I hope they would. There’s also a pulse here I wish everyone could feel – of history, of Black excellence, of transplants’ dreams. [D.C. is] almost similar to New York City, but I find it to be a little less frantic, personally. Find her at www.feedthemalik.com or @feedthemalik on Instagram and Facebook and @feed_the_malik on Twitter. 34 | JULY 2020
PHOTOGRAPHER, BRAND STRATEGIST + GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE CONSULTANT // FOUNDER, WALK WITH LOCALS
City Style: When I think of D.C.’s style, I think of tailored casual. There are so many well-dressed people in this city and it’s always done with such ease. My favorite thing about D.C. style is how tailored and relaxed everyone looks at the same time. To me, this city is not about the label on your apparel, but how you rock what you wear. No one cares if your tee costs $100. Also, wherever I go in the world, I will always see New Balance shoes and think of D.C. Sorry, Boston. Find him at www.carlnardphoto.com or @carlnard on Instagram and Twitter. Learn more about Walk With Locals at @walkwithlocals on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
WRITER + BODY LIBERATION ADVOCATE // FOUNDER, PLUSH DMV
Her Style: Style is self-expression. As a fat person, I grew up thinking that I couldn’t participate in fashion because I never saw anyone who looked like me wearing the clothes I loved. I’ve since spent many years unlearning those arbitrary fashion and style rules, tossing them aside and wearing things that bring me joy. My personal style is playful and feminine. I love florals. I wear them all year-round. I love different textures. Pleats and ruffles are a weakness of mine. At night, I like to switch it up and be vampier: lots of sheer tops and body-hugging outfits. City Style: If I were to think of D.C. as a whole, I wouldn’t think of it as a super stylish city. But that’s only at first glance. When you look beyond downtown D.C. and actually take a look at the locals, we are super fashionable. One of my favorite things to do pre-corona[virus] was to go out and people-watch. I get so inspired by how others style their clothes. Find her at www.mayraymejia.com or @badbadprettygood on Instagram and @mayratweeets on Twitter. Learn more about Plush DMV at @plushdmv on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP ON PAGE 34. Jocelyn Law-Yone. Photo by Scott Suchman. Carl Maynard. Photo courtesy of subject. Mayra Mejia. Photo by Sigute Meilus. Anela Malik. Photo courtesy of subject.
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is clean and functional. On top of running three businesses, I have a busy 15-month-old, so my wardrobe has to make sense and transition seamlessly from work to mommy life. Pockets are essential!
Her Style: Style is art. It is an expression of who we are, who we hope to be and how we see the world around us. In many ways, it is our individual reflection of the world seen through unique lenses and angles. My style is classic with a bold edit. The shapes and cuts I wear are usually traditional, but I tend to style them in a way that feels powerful. A broad shoulder, a cinched waist and the color red will always sing to me.
D.C. Style: D.C.’s style identity is evolving. It used to be extremely stiff and in some ways it still is. I think people are finally finding the courage to be themselves in a city where everyone wants to be taken seriously.
STYLE BLOGGER + RETAIL MANAGER
City Style: D.C. is so interesting to me, style-wise. It is such a melting pot of transplants that it makes it hard to define. Oddly enough, when I think of D.C. style, I think about the people who play drums by Gallery Place, and the go-go music on 14th and U. They are part of the heart of the city.
Find her on Instagram @chelseaxeron. Learn more about her businesses at www.nikosgelato.com and www.studio52dc.com, or @nikosgelato on Instagram and Facebook and @studio52dc on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Find her at www.9to5tohh.com or @addieohh on Instagram.
TRAP BOB // TENBEETE SOLOMON ARTIST, TRAP BOB WORLD, LLC
Her Style: Style is self-expression. It’s not just one thing – it’s everything about you. It exists naturally. My style is bold, loud, vivid and ever-changing. City Style: D.C.’s style is loud, passionate and fun. It’s rich in culture, and you can’t copy it even if you tried. It comes from within and it goes far beyond clothing. Find her at www.trapbob.com or @trapxbob on Instagram and @trapbob on Twitter.
CHEF + CO-OWNER, STELLINA PIZZERIA
His Style: To me, style is edgy, yet sophisticated, functional, slim-fit and spontaneous. My personal style is Italian with a French twist. My tattoos are an expression of my professional life, and my love for food and Korean mysteriousness and sassiness. City Style: The preconception is that D.C. is filled with conservatively dressed politicos, but in fact the city attracts Europeans and young professionals in technology – all with very distinct styles – from retro to hip, edgy to chic. Find him on Instagram @matteo_venini. Learn more at www.stellinapizzeria.com or @stellinapizzeria on Instagram.
CHELSEA XERON ENTREPRENEUR
Her Style: To me, style is self-expression. It’s a way for me to convey my personality, my mood and my energy. My style 36 | JULY 2020
Chelsea Xeron. Photo by Hunter Scott. Makeup by Beauty by Ruben. Styling by Joy Kingsley-Ibeh.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP. Trap Bob. Photo by Shaughn Cooper // @shaughncooper. Matteo Venini. Photo courtesy of subject. Addie Owusu. Photo courtesy of subject.
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BLACK-OWNED BUSINESSES DESIGN + CURATE CLOTHING FOR CHANGE WORDS BY COURTNEY SEXTON
39 | JULY 2020
CULTURE As local businesses in all sectors begin to reopen after the coronavirus shutdown, several Black-owned small businesses in the District are facing the added emotional work of operating in a country coming to terms with systemic racial injustice. While Black Washingtonians accounted for 71 percent of D.C.’s population in 1970, that number had fallen to 49.2 percent by 2011, and has continued to decline since. But several Black-owned businesses are staying strong through change and adversity, and doing it in style. Three fashion-forward D.C. entrepreneurs are rising up to participate, educate and move the fashion industry toward a more inclusive, sustainable space for all.
DORSEY DISTRICT OF CLOTHING
When 2020 began, Dionna Dorsey could never have imagined that her T-shirts would be part of a racial protest movement, or that she’d be designing a line of apparel that would support relief aid during a global pandemic. Dorsey, a trained fashion designer and entrepreneur, returned from New York to her hometown in D.C. in 2009. At the time, the Great Recession was impacting businesses all over the country, and there was little work to be found in the design field. But the entrepreneur in Dorsey saw opportunity in using the economic downturn as a time to reevaluate her own dreams, and soon thereafter launched her graphic design firm Dionna Dorsey Designs. That practice in adaptation prepared Dorsey for surviving the Covid-19 pandemic as an independent business owner. “The first thing that I did was very quickly realize that I needed to pivot,” Dorsey says. “Secondly, I realized that I needed to not just pivot, I needed something to help me be productive, but also something to help me keep my peace. I needed some sort of normalcy, and I also needed a way to stay profitable during this time as a small business owner.” When by March her client requests had dropped by 80 percent, Dorsey’s side hustle, District of Clothing, became her full-time job. The District of Clothing brand includes basics like tees, hats and sweatshirts that feature simple, bold statements of identity. To bolster sales, Dorsey refocused her social media strategy, posting encouraging messages and information about Covid-19, and shifted marketing to events like “work from home” sales that featured customers wearing items from her popular Dreamer/Doer and Trust Black Women collections while on Zoom calls. “Isaac Newton was home during the plague and invented the Theory of Gravity. I thought, ‘We can be productive, too.’” But still, Dorsey wanted to do more to encourage people and to help. So, she made the decision to launch her Common Purpose collection. The collection was initially designed to support and encourage Americans to participate in the 2020 presidential election. “I kept thinking there’s no time like the present and we actually need each other. If I’m constantly encouraging my community of dreamers/doers and changemakers to go from dreaming to doing, then I should probably do that, too.” A portion of the proceeds from the Common Purpose collection goes to World Central Kitchen, to assist Covid-19 relief efforts. With this line, Dorsey says, “we’re celebrating the unity of intention and harmony because we need it now more than ever and we all have to do our part.” Beyond fostering a sense of hope during the pandemic, 40 | JULY 2020
District of Clothing has become an emblem for many seeking societal change. Mayor Bowser wore the line’s 51 hat – part of the collection that promotes D.C. statehood – during a recent press conference, and Black Lives Matter advocates don Common Purpose and Trust Black Women tees during street demonstrations. “Seeing people connect and inspiring action and self-love, and wearing something from District of Clothing – or even apparel I’ve designed for campaigns like Planned Parenthood – on the frontlines while they are demanding change [leaves me] completely speechless. Our clothes won’t change the world, but the people who wear them [will].” Learn more about Dorsey at www.dionnadorsey.com and www.districtofclothing.com. Follow District of Clothing on Instagram @districtofclothing.
THOMAS FIA’S FABULOUS FINDS
Tucked away in Petworth’s Upshur Street corridor, Fia’s Fabulous Finds has been a neighborhood mainstay for secondhand fashion for more than eight years. Store owner Safisha “Fia” Thomas, a self-described thrifter, started selling clothes from her dining room as a side hustle when she wasn’t on the clock at her full-time gig with the Department of Treasury. Thomas would find pieces that didn’t necessarily match her own style, but that she knew someone would love, until eventually she had collected about 100 outfits. “I got them dry cleaned, bought a rack and had a one-day little happy hour that turned into an every Saturday event with 40 people in the house,” Thomas says. One day, while walking down Upshur Street with her husband Frank, she noticed the storefront at 806 was available, and they both agreed the spot was the perfect fit for what would become Fia’s Fabulous Finds. In addition to being a place to combat the fast fashion industry while scoring unique and vintage designs, Fia’s is known as a clothing store that is inclusive of all sizes, and is one of the only boutiques in D.C. that carries up to size 4X for women. When she had to close the shop due to coronavirus, Thomas had to think fast on her feet. “It took us for a spin,” she says, “but if we’re being very, very honest, a lot of retailers in D.C. were struggling before the pandemic even happened. It looked as if there was no hope for the fashion business.” But the shutdown provided a new opportunity. Thomas learned how to sell on Facebook Live, Instagram and other social FIRST PAGE. Dionna Dorsey. Photo by Don Calloway.
media platforms, using her store as a staging area. “I’m reinventing myself. I now have customers from all over. People who may never have visited before are now able to find me and that puts a smile on my face. And the fun part is shopping my own store for those things that people are going to want to purchase.” Thomas has curated virtual sale events to accommodate women coming from all different backgrounds and with all different fashion needs. Thomas says for her customer base in D.C. and beyond, she caters to a growing market that, like herself, is more socially conscious. “What I have found out for fashion is that used clothes are in. It’s not even about the financials. It is the right thing to do. Women are becoming more conscious about who makes their clothes, and more conscious about slow fashion. It’s a lifestyle. Eating healthier, using resources wisely, making sure your carbon footprint is limited. It is fashion for living.” Follow Fia’s Fabulous Finds on Instagram and Facebook @fiasfabfinds.
FLYSHIKIS BY SANKOFA KREATIONS Isaac Appiah was born and raised in Ghana, where his mother was a seamstress. When he immigrated to the D.C. area as a high schooler in 2006, Appiah wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew he wanted to do something that represented his culture. Fast forward 10 years, and by May of 2017, Appiah and his business partner, Jehu Graham, had launched a new company
that did just that: Sankofa Kreations. Sankofa and its line, Flyshikis, uses the advertising power of clothing to tell the stories of West African history, and to embolden those who wear the clothes to feel proud of that history. “The name Flyshikis is a play on words,” Appiah explains. “It’s dashikis, the traditional African garments that we sell, combined with fly, because our clothes are fly.” The bold, bright prints that are characteristic of the line are sourced from and produced in Ghana. “It’s one way to stay authentic and invest back into the market [in Ghana],” says Appiah, whose mother helps to oversee the production. Among Appiah’s favorite designs are those that feature the Kente print, one traditionally worn only by kings and queens. “If you’re wearing a print that royals wore, it gives you a different kind of courage,” he says. In addition to selling through an online shop, Appiah and his small team travel around the DMV hosting Flyshikis pop-ups, largely on and around colleges – in the last year, they visited 86 campuses. He says that even during the pandemic, they’ll continue to be creative in finding new ways for their designs to reach the public. “Anywhere we go, we sell out. The reason we stand out from other designers is that we educate the masses about the prints that we use. There are amazing stories and traditions behind them, and we want people to know that.” His favorite part of spearheading his company is making it a platform for education. Appiah’s vision is to use fashion as a way to help people connect to their roots, and his hope for Sankofa is to open a fashion school in Ghana within the next five years to teach people how to sew, get them exposure and use the Flyshikis brand to “help launch their journeys in life.” Learn more about Appiah at www.flyshikis.com and follow the brand on Instagram @flyshikis.
L TO R. Safisha “Fia” Thomas. Photo courtesy of Fia’s Fabulous Finds. Flyshikis model. Photo courtesy of Sankofa Kreations.
DISTRICT FRAY | 41
WRITE STUFF D.C.’S GOT THE
WORDS BY COURTNEY SEXTON, CO-FOUNDER OF THE INNER LOOP // ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES COREAS
The Washington, D.C. region celebrates a rich literary past that bolsters a thriving literary present. Home to dozens of reading series and festivals, small presses, independent bookstores and creative writing programs, the DMV nurtures a literary scene that is both homegrown and internationally acclaimed. But this presence doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do to elevate the literary arts in our city. What does a writer look like? Who decides which works become a part of the canon? How can we support local writers so they can sustain a living in the District? Whose voices are being drowned out, and how can we amplify them? Dozens of would-be Shakespeares are walking our streets, and odds are they aren’t all old British men. Now more than ever, it is vital that we make space for diverse and emerging voices in the literary arts – voices that tell the whole story of our moment in time. Indeed, one of the most important jobs a writer has is to hold a mirror to society, to help us reflect on who and what we are and, more importantly, who we want to be. When District Fray’s outgoing deputy editor Trent Johnson (we’ll miss you, Trent!) reached out to The Inner Loop with the idea for a writing contest, our response was a resounding “Yes!” While The Inner Loop traditionally builds platforms for community engagement with writers off the page, the opportunity to publish local writers in a magazine outside of the traditional literary realm fits well with our mission to transform the written word into a shared experience. We were thrilled to have the honor of reading nearly 50 submissions in fiction, 42 | JULY 2020
nonfiction and poetry, and ever grateful for award-winning author Rion Amilcar Scott’s generous participation as judge. Of the three winning entries that appear here, J. Indigo Eriksen’s short fiction gives a glimpse of life through the eyes of a ghost; Whitney Ayres Kenerly’s essay reminds us that we don’t always know ourselves, or others, as well as we think; and Kelsey Frenkiel’s poem touches on the (dis)connection between mind and body. In short, what these pieces share is an unexpected view of the world – and we can never be exposed to too many of those. So please readers, read on.
The Inner Loop is a literary reading series and network for creative writers in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The organization aims to create a space for both emerging and established writers to connect with their community, and transform the written word into a shared experience through the act of reading aloud. Founded in 2014, The Inner Loop is a nonprofit organization driven by a love of writing, the joy of hearing people read their work and a desire to make the work of local writers more accessible to their community. This is accomplished through four core programs including a monthly reading series, an annual summer writing residency, The Inner Loop Radio podcast and biannual retreats, as well as additional special projects and collaborations ongoing throughout the year. Learn more about The Inner Loop at www.theinnerlooplit.org and follow guest judge Rion Amilcar Scott on Twitter and Instagram @reeamilcarscott.
WORDS BY FICTION WINNER J. INDIGO ERIKSEN He was surprised to find that he was still thought of by the living, having turned his flesh to ectoplasm sometime last week while on a trip to the former Soviet Bloc with his parents. It was so easy to decide. A simple choice of not choosing. First, he didn’t respond to the woman serving coffee. “Would you like more, sir?” she asked in fluid yet accented English. He sat there, quiet, non-responsive. Vaguely corpselike. She repeated her question, growing more stressed each time. She switched to French, Spanish, German, Italian. Breaking her own rule, she asked him in Russian. Frantic now and as a last-ditch effort, she asked in Romanian. Still silence. She filled his cup, muttered a rainbow of curses, and went to prepare a cappuccino for the woman writing at the corner table, who did respond. Is it so easy, he wondered, to disappear? He thought of his parents showering back at the hotel. Wondered if they’d be able to order a cab or an Uber to the airport in the morning. F--k it, he thought, they’re adults. And so he began to shift from epidermis to a hazy space where a man’s body had been. He didn’t anticipate the temperature change, his body becoming chilled like how he felt in the early summer after kayaking – dragging the boats up the riverbank before the late summer months when Virginia heat lasted through the night. He hadn’t realized he would be stranded here. Ghosts can’t cross water, except in the memories of those they leave behind. But the most unexpected part was the tugging. He couldn’t sleep and therefore couldn’t wake up, but there was this sense of, not quite rest, but somnambulance. This was how he spent his late nights and early, early mornings. Wandering the fog space streets of Bucharest, roaming alongside the stray dogs who knew the Metro routes. Following them, as he had little else to do, he learned the trains. It was on a train to Ceaușescu’s palace that he felt the first one. A gentle pull on his shoulder. He forgot he wasn’t human. Habit being strongly ingrained in the muscle of his memory, he turned around, expecting to see a lost tourist or maybe a lonely old man hankering for conversation, but there was nothing. Just the empty seats of a train. Sometime later it was like a tug, like a piece of string tied to a child’s loose tooth. It did not feel pleasing. Later still, it became a tearing. Like a black-and-white film he’d seen in high school, a memory long forgotten of a man tied to the mast of a ship slowly being tortured by his captors. A long metal rod with sharpened, curved blade extended high to the man, slicing into his flesh. This tearing off of skin that wasn’t skin but the memory of skin struck him as a quite peculiar feeling, as well as awful. Nevertheless, he persisted in his ghost world of smoky grey dawns.
Time became irrelevant because what does a ghost care for news of inverted yield curves and retirement planning? Eventually the pulls and tugs and tears connected themselves to images, which manifested first as ambiguous pixels and spattered pigment. The ghost’s internalized Rorschach inkblot smears found their way through the neurons of his memory and he saw faces like long-entombed photographs. He wandered the catacombs of his remembering, saw his brother at 19 drinking cheap whiskey from the bottle, brawling in the yard. His sister, an infant he held underwater in the pool, experimenting with the length of her breath. His mother neither asleep nor awake under a pink, flowered comforter, where the years of her depression locked her after he left for college. At some point, it was winter. He realized the pulling and tearing, the tugs as he came to call them, were people remembering him. Pragmatically, he understood this made sense, he could disappear himself but he couldn’t remove the pasts he had shared with them. And so he existed until, predictably, the tugs lessened. He interpreted this as their forgetting. Possibly their deaths. From time to time, he’d be jerked out of his meanderings by a swift and violent tug. This must be my sister, he thought, whose quick descent into Alzheimer’s had turned the synapses of her brain into an electric dancing storm. But these too ceased. It was a summertime day and the ghost was walking along the banks of the Dâmbovița when he realized they were gone now. The past became driftwood, like memory like water. J. Indigo Eriksen teaches writing at Northern Virginia Community College. Her creative work has appeared in The Northern Virginia Review, Scratching Against the Fabric, Endlessly Rocking and TYCA-SE Journal. She was awarded the 2019 Mary Roberts Rinehart prize in nonfiction from GMU. Eriksen is a dedicated whiskey drinker.
WORDS BY POETRY WINNER KELSEY FRENKIEL Today, I wrenched my head free from my vertebrae. It rolled once across the pen-scratched desk. I cracked it open like a pumpkin and parceled out the injured seeds. Kelsey Frenkiel is a Program Manager at the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), where she provides support for a wide range of research and consulting projects in sustainable tourism. Frenkiel is also a freelance travel writer and enjoys hiking, voting, traveling, thrifting and visiting historical sites in her spare time. DISTRICT FRAY | 43
44 | JULY 2020
at Trader Joe’s
WORDS BY NONFICTION WINNER WHITNEY AYRES KENERLY In this pandemic, masks are everywhere. They help prevent the spread of Covid-19, flatten the curve, and are worn out of consideration for the vulnerable. They also make it impossible for me to communicate. I am deaf in my right ear. My hearing disability was discovered during a routine test my kindergarten year. The test was the first thing I had ever failed. I come from the South where girls are supposed to be perfect, pure. I grew up in a family where defects were meant to be concealed, never celebrated. So, I learned to cope. I never learned ASL. I watched a documentary about a school for the deaf that included a cafeteria scene. It was just like any other cafeteria, with teens at tables vigorously talking, trying to cram as much socializing as possible into their precious lunch period. Except it was all happening in silence. It terrified me. Aside from the need to turn my head a little to the left when talking to someone in a crowded bar, I could pretend I was normal. I could get by in the world as well as anyone else. Until the masks came. I’m used to a certain level of hyperawareness. I worry someone might think I’m being rude or intentionally ignoring them when they are trying to ask me a question from my right side. In a world where every stranger’s body is turned into a potential deadly disease vector, the tension dial is turned to 11. I was standing in line to enter the Old Town Alexandria Trader Joe’s, trying to follow all the new protocols for grocery shopping while 6 feet apart. Everyone was wearing a mask. Everyone was standing still. No one was talking. An employee started walking beside our line and I careened my head to hear the announcement. “We are mmmmphrm urmph mmm outside bags mmphrm,” he said. What? The mask was muffling his words. I searched his face, but could only see where his eyes were looking. He looked at me. “Mmmphr can’t bring PHRMMM in.” It took a few seconds for my brain to catch up and piece together what I had heard. There was something we weren’t allowed to do. Bags. Inside. I looked down at the grocery bags I had brought and nodded my head back at him before returning them to my car. Once I was in the store, I became even more alert. My eyes
shot across every wall and aisle looking for instructions. Trying to maintain a distance of six feet apart, I kept turning my head so much, checking that no one was beside or behind me, that I looked like a paranoid owl. Finally, I made it to the checkout line. I was relieved when the cashier raised her arm high to summon me over to the register, but as I pulled up my cart, I heard her say something with a level or urgency that concerned me. “Mmmphrm mmm phrmmm mmm?” I froze. I had not caught a single word of that. “MMMPHRM MMMMM PHRRMMMM MMMM?!?” I shook my head. My heart felt like it was thrusting into my throat as I looked around for a sign of what was happening. Then, I turned back over my right shoulder and saw. A man was standing behind me, frowning, waiting with his cart in the aisle I had accidentally blocked. I managed to hold back the tears until I left. I wasn’t upset with the store or the staff or the masks. I was crying because, for the first time, I had to acknowledge how much I had always depended on reading lips. I had to acknowledge that there was nothing more than a thin piece of fabric between me living what I had thought was a normal life, and me losing my autonomy. For the first time I had to admit to myself how severe my hearing loss is. I had to acknowledge I had a disability. I feared this new world could be dangerous. Without being able to sign in ASL, something I now regret refusing to learn, I needed a way to at least let people know I needed a little help. I searched Etsy and found someone who creates colorful buttons that aim to “make the invisible visible.” I ordered three: “I am deaf in my right ear,” “Hearing impaired,” and “I am hard of hearing.” I proudly wear my buttons when I go out in public now. I’ve been touched by how kind people have been when they see them – how willing strangers are to help explain things with gestures. I feel seen. But before I could let my partial deafness be visible to the world, I had to see it for myself. Whitney Ayres Kenerly is a writer and music critic who lives near Washington, D.C. She received her M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from The New School. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, C-Biz Magazine, C-VILLE Weekly and INDY Week, and can be found at www.whitneyayreskenerly.com. DISTRICT FRAY | 45
THE CULTURE OF STYLE COVER SHOOT. Photographer Tony Powell and stylist Joy Kingsley-Ibeh joined forces with District Fray Magazineâ€™s editorial team and cover subjects Carolyn Becker, Pierre Edwards, Kelcie Glass and Maps Glover for a mid-June cover shoot in Meridian Hill Park. Photos by Tanira Dove.
46 | JULY 2020
WORDS BY LANGFORD WIGGINS
LIFE Powerhouses in D.C. take many forms. In the nation’s capital, one would find it most difficult to turn a corner and not see a political figure, famous activist or celebrity of some sort. However, during these cyclical times of oppression stemming from racial biases, District Fray Magazine thought it prudent to profile powerhouses in D.C. who happen to be Black. When approached to curate and coordinate this effort, I was honored. I was also unnerved by the responsibility of narrating the experiences and impact of these resilient and mighty few. I was losing confidence – not in my abilities to write, but in my worthiness to share their plight and achievements. I’m not one without blemish, nor am I the best advocate for social justice. But I thought, if not me, then who? So, I began to consider the significance of profiling these individuals. Each person showcased was recommended for their undeniable contributions across various sectors in support of the Black community. I specify the Black community, not only because Black people are those consistently slain in the streets by those of authority, but because an investment in the Black community is an investment in the greater community-at-large. It has become common knowledge that uplifting the most marginalized and disenfranchised will positively impact the whole. As I began to speak with these nine powerhouses in D.C., shared sentiments started to unfold as stories of civic engagement, activism, mentorship and resistance were told. The notions in common were led by a selfless need to give back to the initial communities in which they found support and encouragement. Also, there was a consistent drive to facilitate means for the advancement of the next generation. What surprised me the least was their shared difficulty in claiming the title “powerhouse.” Instead, they suggested they are merely doing what is needed to be done for their loved ones. Their blackness is an uncontrollable factor that produces joy while simultaneously soliciting unwarranted ridicule. It is a burden they are forced to carry and will happily never let fall to the wayside.
NEE NEE TAYLOR Co-Organizer, Black Lives Matter DC “I’m a D.C. native, born and raised east of the river in Southeast. When I was growing up, we had people in our lives who inspired us, took care of us and looked out for us. We had everything we needed in the community. We respected elders, and every mother on the block was your mother. That is the world I want to create for this generation. When I came back to D.C. after college, I wanted to give back what was given to me. When it comes to today’s youth, and the oppressed Black people who do not have food or housing, I try to make a way through BLM DC to provide those resources to the community. We strive to advance racial equality by dismantling systems that oppress.” “I don’t consider myself a powerhouse. I always say I’m not a savior. I’m creating a movement. I always say the doors of the movement are open and if they’re not open, create it and the people will come. My goal and purpose in life is to walk on top of the railroad tracks, unapologetically Black, freeing our people and educating our people as Harriet Tubman did for me with the Underground Railroad. I just walk on top of the tracks being unapologetically Black.” Instagram @dmvblacklives // www.blacklivesmatterdmv.org 48 | JULY 2020
SHAUGHN COOPER Photographer + Co-Founder, Community of Creatives “My role is to document these intimate spaces I am in, uplift the little homies [and] inspire them to be artists full-time. I’m a firm believer in the more you learn, the more you should teach. That’s one of the best ways to pay it forward.” “What we need now is when Black creatives are talked down to or credit is taken, our white allies – or any allies – should speak up. Speak out when you see injustices. Remember, we’re going for synergy, not energy.” Instagram @community.of.creatives + @shaughncooper // www.shaughncooper.com
KELSEY MARTIN Founder, Rise Like A Girl “One of the things I’m most proud of with my work is the safe spaces that I’ve been able to create with girls of all ages. We’re able to build a community, regardless of our differences, and stand together in solidarity. Solidarity means togetherness. It means joining hands with love and respect. While I’m encouraged by the solidarity of our society’s racial awakening over the last few weeks, I’m afraid many of us are missing the point. I do agree that it is important to speak up when you can, but I also want us all to understand that transformation isn’t a performance. “Transformation isn’t always out loud. Sometimes it’s a quiet stirring that takes time to reveal itself. We have to show each other grace in these moments to achieve true solidarity. Now, more than ever, we all need less judgement and criticism, and more love for everyone choosing to enter this battlefield – no matter how they choose to do it. We have to set an example for our young Black girls that true progress is in the transformation, not the performance.” Instagram @riselikeagirl // www.riselikeagirl.com
KYMONE FREEMAN Co-Owner, We Act Radio “The late [author and activist] George Jackson said, ‘The first line of defense is communications.’ So, I decided to create a platform where we could control our own communications. We Act Radio was founded on the African proverb, ‘Until the lions have their own historians, the tale of the hunt will continue to glorify the hunters.’ Since our inception, I have planted seeds [and] kept the agitation and resistance alive, so [as] to continue the struggle and be there when the next generation is ready to rise, take the baton and run.” Instagram @kymonefreeman // www.weactradio.com
Food Blogger, Feed The Malik “In the blogging space, it is easy to stick to things that are trendy. I’ve made a deliberate effort to step back from that and focus on the true depth and bounty that D.C. has to offer – especially Black D.C. I’m Black, that’s my community and this is a significant group that has deep and lasting contributions to the city’s food scene, like the carryout culture, mumbo sauce and the latest viral sensation, Roaming Rooster. I wanted to show the beauty I’d seen from this aspect of D.C.’s food scene, so that’s my contribution.”
FIRST PAGE. Shaughn Cooper. Photo courtesy of subject. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP. Kelsey Martin. Photo courtesy of subject. Jennifer King. Photo courtesy of subject. Janeese Lewis George. Photo by Aimee Custis. Anela Malik. Photo by Studio PRI.
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LIFE “I think there has to be room for activism across the spectrum. I’ve been trying to encourage people to take the concept of ‘Black Food Fridays’ or ‘Black Business Fridays’ and adopt that as a part of your lifestyle, which means that once a week on Friday, you try to spend your money with a Black-owned business. It’s a way of helping people think of more sustainable changes.” Instagram @feedthemalik // www.feedthemalik.com
Assistant Coach, Washington Redskins “I have an interesting perspective with my law enforcement background, and also as a Black female in America. I was a police officer for four years, and I feel part of police reform should include more transparency. Sometimes, I find myself explaining to someone why the police do some of the things they do, and the person suddenly has a better understanding of what they saw. I’m really hoping to use my experience and knowledge to bridge a muchneeded gap between the community and police organizations. Nothing is perfect and police work in an imperfect, ever-changing environment. I would like to see training standards increased.” “It’s very important that girls, particularly little Black girls, view me as a positive role model and living example that their potential is limitless. Representation is so important, and I’m honored to be in this position to help our youth see big dreams can come true.” Instagram @jennifer.king5 // www.redskins.com/team/coaches-roster
Director of Programs, Makers Lab “I like to think that I am an artist creating from a place of honesty and vulnerability, always talking about my blackness as being the forefront of my life. It’s one of the most important things that I am. I create music for people who look like me and feel like me. I also create and curate spaces with Makers Lab for Black LGBTQ folks, artists and creatives to be free, get free and feel safe. I think revolution music is necessary. In these times, it is our duty as visionaries, poets and artists to create art reflective of our times to help dismantle white supremacy.” Instagram @patience.sings // www.makerslabdc.co
JANEESE LEWIS GEORGE Ward 4 City Council Nominee
“There’s so much that needs to be done to advance racial equality in my profession. I know I’m just getting started, but when in office, I want to take a hard look at what advocacy should be in politics, and how I can make sure that myself and my new colleagues are doing what’s best for the residents of D.C.” “As a young Black woman who saw the system and government was not working for me and people who look like me, I don’t have the luxury to not be an advocate for my community. We must do the work. We must be in the room, and we must step up as leaders. My blackness in these spaces is not only to be a voice but to push other councilmembers to listen to Black voices and Black stories, and to demand they make a change in how they legislate, how they run their city and how they serve the community. It is incumbent upon me to bring my blackness into every room and space until there is recognition and atonement reinforced by action.” Instagram @janeese4dc // www.janeese4dc.com. 50 | JULY 2020
Correspondent, 60 Minutes’ “60 in 60” on Quibi “D.C. is a city that I love. It is an important place full of truly inspiring and fascinating people. [Yet] Black D.C. is often written off, forgotten [and] overlooked for the official Washington. Every day, living my life here, I encounter that portrait of injustice and disregard. That is one of the motivating factors behind what I write – not just here in D.C., but across the country. The experience of Black Washingtonians is not separate or different from that of Black Americans across the country. My work is an attempt to center and elevate those stories.” Instagram + Twitter @wesleylowery Langford Wiggins is a native Washingtonian and an advocate for diverse storytelling, transparent governments and racial equality. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP. Patience Rowe. Photo courtesy of subject. Kymone Freeman. Photo courtesy of subject. Wesley Lowery. Photo from subject’s FB page. Nee Nee Taylor. Photo courtesy of subject.
An Investment Worth Making WORDS BY TRENT JOHNSON “You get what you pay for.” This phrase is typically referred to as the common law of business balance. The sentiment is straightforward: If you want a quality product, you have to be willing to pay for it. Journalism is no different, as reporting requires resources in the form of training, working hours and more. Inherently, this is true on both local and national levels. While you can piece together headlines on Twitter and try to decipher comments from folks who read them, your best bet for understanding and digesting the news is to invest time in the article yourself. And sometimes, it costs money to do so. “Journalism is almost always a business,” says Washingtonian Editor Michael Schaffer. “[The] bottom line is: Much of journalism is not sustainable if people aren’t willing to pay for content.” While the 12 annual print editions of Washingtonian will always be a constant through line in the publication’s past and present offerings, Schaffer adds that people can also support their work by attending their parties, clicking on their website and interacting on social media. Paying for the content you engage with can also make you feel more connected, especially when the journalism you consume actively makes you take notice of the things happening in your community. While media is commonplace in the District, each entity is important and dynamic in its own way. “I think it’s essential for people to support local journalism with dollars because we’ve seen how quickly these outlets can disappear,” says Caroline Jones, the interim editor for Washington City Paper (WCP). “DCist closed temporarily in 2017 and City Paper almost closed at the same time. For City Paper, we’ve lost significant ad revenue to the Internet, but we’re determined to keep publishing in print and online because we feel like we provide an essential service to our readers.” WCP has gone from 300 paying members before quarantine to almost 1,000 now, Jones says. The hunger to fund local publications through memberships or other purchases has never been more necessary because of the effects on the economy brought by Covid-19. D.C.-based magazines. Photo by Lani Furbank + M.K. Koszycki.
After more than 20 years of producing 11 print issues per year at no cost to readers, District Fray Magazine – formerly On Tap Magazine – is also debuting different levels of membership this summer. With various levels of access, the prices for print and digital memberships range from $1.95 to $6.95 per month. Recently, we have added a community impact annual patron option: a yearly subscription for $87.95, half of which goes directly to a nonprofit or organization supporting the Black community and others in need, with recipients changing quarterly. The first is the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the city’s oldest and largest civil and legal rights organization. Since 1932, Legal Aid’s work has intended to help those most in need throughout the District to achieve justice for themselves and their families. D.C. is a dynamic city with many moving parts, and local journalism is a way for you to learn and better understand the area. With quarantine, the pandemic and social injustices happening throughout the country, local publications are needed more now than ever. “Local journalism is important because as residents, we’re all stakeholders in our city and deserve to be well-informed,” Jones says. “It’s especially important in D.C. because our local elected officials have such significant power over our health, safety and the things we like to do in our spare time, and during fraught times like these, we need all the information we can get. Going deeper and getting news from local journalism outlets allows people to gain more context than they would from a Facebook post or tweet. You can’t fit an entire story in 280 characters.” To learn more about District Fray Magazine’s subscription and member options, visit www.districtfray.com/member. Thank you in advance for supporting local journalism. DISTRICT FRAY | 51
LIFE | OPINION
52 | JULY 2020
Illustration inspired by Spike Leeâ€™s Do The Right Thing.
Rethinking Rethinking Rethinking Rethinking Rethinking Rethinking
Love Love Love Love Love Love
and and and and and and
Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate Hate
in in in in in in
America America America America America America
WORDS BY DAVID ROSS // ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES COREAS Many of my close Black friends would be apolitical if it weren’t for the color of their skin. Most would prefer to be consumed just with their day-to-day: acquiring their first commercial property, telling better jokes onstage, or figuring out when to leave their cush job and finally become the entrepreneur they spend all of their time dreaming about. I like witty and dramatic TV, and other dope art in whatever format catches my attention most. I couldn’t tell you how to contribute to Black Lives Matter. I’d be like, “Google it,” or “Check activist Shaun King’s Instagram.” I’m not even sure I’d be sending folks in the right direction. At my core, I’m just a regular dude who is always trying to sort out my personal shit and achieve the things I want in life – without drowning. I’m a guy who is clinically depressed, so I jog. I really enjoy it. I feel like my ears are brought closer to music as I do it. I value the mood I earn after a solid workout. It’s everything. I used to jog through Rock Creek Park early in the morning. I’m a morning person and that’s the time of day I’m most joyous. But I stopped jogging around 6:30 a.m. because something about the energy was off on those streets. I started to recognize a dark glare from some white drivers – not all, but enough to make me feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t doing anything aggressive. I was just a black man in motion. Funnily enough, what they didn’t realize is one song on my jogging playlist was Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” I remember telling a friend of mine, “I feel like one of these trucks is just going to roll up on me and do some crazy shit.” I was told I was being paranoid. I ignored them. I told myself, “They aren’t there.” There were people out exercising early, but not as many. You’d often be by yourself during certain portions. Long story short, I switched up the time of day I jogged to have more people around. Then, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while on a jog, and I thought about the Kurt Cobain quote, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” So much has transpired since, including the murder of George Floyd. Cities went up in flames, police were being arrested for their actions and around the globe – not just in the U.S. – Black people let the world know we really do matter. Mayor Bowser got in a tug-of-war with our president that escalated to the point that in the middle of the night, she had artists – guarded by Department of Public Works trucks – paint a large mural that read “Black Lives Matter” in yellow letters. Other cities painted
either the same mural or their own iteration, including San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, Austin and Cincinnati. I’m sure there will be others. Let me also be quite frank: This work was not done overnight. Like any movement, I’m always taken aback by the years of work done by countless individuals pushing initiatives on the street, in the courts or on the House floor. But for a second, among a lot of heat, there was much-needed mist. There was a rush of public support on our behalf from groups and organizations we didn’t expect. I certainly wasn’t expecting non-Black friends from high school to be posting a Black image on their Instagram feed in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Conversations shifted in our inner circles. Blacks previously pessimistic and pushed to a place of militancy were hopeful. My 72-year-old father told me that my generation has pushed for change he didn’t think imaginable. For the first time, many more non-Blacks have thoughtfully considered appropriate messaging for their children and loved ones to halt the spread of racism. But this still hasn’t been enough. Just when you thought things couldn’t get even more racially unpleasant, now we have men dangling from trees with nooses around their necks in Palmdale and Victorville, California, and another in Manhattan – all initially ruled suicides. I feel like that’s just something news outlets say to prevent Blacks from revolting. Do we really need lynchings right now? What is this, the Red Summer? As if the noose of injustice wasn’t burning our pink throats already. Now we’re being strung up to fight for air and hang from a tree as some strange, barefoot fruit, like a black-and-white photo from the past. But the past never left. We still cuddle her every night. After a while, it is hard to see the point of sitting people down to play them video after video of our people dying. While this struggle is ours, we deserve a backseat in this. Let whites march, bang pans in the middle of the street and honk at Black Live Matters signs. Most of this work isn’t upon us. We’ve done the heavy lifting. We are exhausted. It is upon them to delete and rebuild how they view Black people. Let’s start there. America, this much is clear: There is beauty to this land, to its ideals and diversity. But you have toxic children which makes our stay unsustainable. So fix this shit, and text me when you’re done. David Ross is a creative director living in Washington, D.C. Follow him @dross706 on Instagram and Twitter. DISTRICT FRAY | 53
Joining the Conversation
Supporting Racial + Social Justice in a Real Way WORDS BY KELCIE GLASS // PHOTO BY TONY POWELL
I am a Black woman who was born and raised in Washington, D.C. I attended some of the best D.C. public schools and had many opportunities other Black people in our city and across the country will never have. But when I walk into any room, I am Black first. And because I am Black, my personal experiences â€“ more often than not â€“ do not matter. In public spaces and corporate workplaces, I know that the stereotypes associated with Black people and women who look like me will supersede the accolades I am so proud of. I have always felt welcomed and included by the District Fray editorial team, which is why I trust them to offer me space as a Black woman genuinely and authentically in their publication. It took me a while to begin writing this piece. Initially, I wanted 54 | JULY 2020
to talk all about my new media site, www.blackexchange.co, and how it will be a resource hub for moving actions, organizations and Black businesses forward. But I believe every opportunity presented for someone like me to share on a platform with a different audience should be much more impactful. Right now, many of us are navigating having very real and oftentimes traumatic conversations about race and social injustice. We are trying to figure out how to join these conversations in a substantive way, and how we can share our personal stories in hopes of changing toxic aspects of our culture. Many of you may be trying to figure out how you can be a true ally, because despite the fact that you are not a person of color, you are morally sound. You know racism has no place in our world. Photo of Kelcie Glass.
Recently, many of my friends have reached out and asked where they should start. How can you join the conversation about racial and social justice in a real way? Here are three steps you can take right now within your workplaces and personal relationships. 1. Real allyship begins with listening. When a Black friend or colleague shares an experience with racism or shares what racism has looked like for them throughout their lives, listen first. Try not to respond from your own perspective or feel like it is a personal attack because you aren’t a person of color. 2. Don’t expect the one person of color in the room to be the voice for the Black community. Sometimes, we want answers quickly and may turn to the person that feels the most accessible. Our experiences and interests as Black people vary widely. You still have to keep the individual in mind when having tough conversations. 3. Check to see if a Black person is in the mental space to share. I am a sharer and always open to educating someone who wants to learn. This will not be the case for many people. Trauma and grief manifest themselves in different ways, so be sure your Black counterpart is in the space to share before you ask a race-related question. This moment for racial and social justice feels different to me, and I am inspired. I hope we can all continue to learn from one another. Each of us has the same goal: to make this world a better place for us all.
Kelcie Glass is a marketing professional and entrepreneur based in Washington, D.C. She uses her communications experience and expertise to amplify the work of progressive organizations, especially those run by women of color. The work she does for her clients is centered on finding new and innovative ways for organizations and businesses to connect with consumers, members and allies. She is also the media director for GIRLAAA, a creative collective that centers the artistic work of Black women. In response to the national racial and social justice movement happening right now, she launched a new media venture: The Black Exchange. As a communications professional, she looked at how social activism items moved through our digital and personal spaces and was awestruck by how they did things like reopen the investigation into Elijah McClain’s 2019 murder, move the system to charge George Floyd’s killers at record-breaking speed, and force almost every single major corporation to say publicly, “We support Black Lives Matter.” After a month of watching, learning and listening, she came up with the idea of a media site and resource hub for the exchange of information regarding important actions happening in communities across the country in hopes of continuing to move racial equality forward. She hopes to continue to be an advocate for her community and add to the important conversations we have daily in substantive ways. Learn more about Glass at www.kelcieglass.com and follow her on Instagram @thefire. Follow creative collective GIRLAAA on Instagram @girlaaa.world, and check out The Black Exchange at www.blackexchange.co and on Instagram @blackexchange.co.
THE BORO DRIVE-IN MOVIE SERIES. The Boro Tysons is hosting a drive-in movie series on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July, starting with live entertainment across the street at Boro Place and ending with an evening outside in front of the big screen featuring classics from Grease to Jurassic Park. Photos by LAFlicks Photography.
DISTRICT FRAY | 55
Learning to Raise an Ally WORDS BY CLAIRE SMALLEY // ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES COREAS I found out I was pregnant with my first child during the winter of 2019, and almost immediately, I learned how much people cared about the baby’s biological sex. At the time, I felt secretive about this information. I didn’t want people’s ideas about gender to shape or limit my child in any way. My husband and I discussed early on how we would embrace our son’s identity – whatever it is – and counter the external, cultural pressures he might feel about what it means to be a boy and masculine. I have always loved children’s books, so even before my son was born, I began curating a library that featured strong 56 | JULY 2020
girls, boys who aren’t traditionally masculine, and racially and ethnically diverse characters. We had a plan: We would use books and toys to celebrate all the ways people are different, encourage our son to embrace and be curious about those differences, and answer his questions truthfully and in age-appropriate language. Amid the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the past few months, I began to consider the ways in which our approach would be insufficient. I am prepared to talk to my child about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. But I am not equipped to talk to my son about racism in America and our role – his role – in fighting against it.
UNDERSTANDING OUR CHILDREN’S IDENTITIES
The first thing to recognize as parents of white children is that we are privileged to have the option to talk about race and learn about racism rather than experience it. In a Washington Post article published last month, Khama Ennis, a Black woman and chief of emergency medicine at a Massachusetts hospital, describes talking to her daughters about racism at ages 5 and 7. “They had to learn to recognize hatred if there was any hope of them being able to call it out, name it and most importantly, know it was wrong,” Ennis says in the June 5 piece. “It was a painful conversation that they still remember.” While Black families face the horrific necessity of talking to their children about anti-Black racism in America, white families tend to avoid talking about race altogether. Our children won’t experience racism, so why talk about race? Even if we do not hold racist values, if we are not actively fighting against racism then we are complicit in all the ways that it happens around us every day – whether we notice it or not. If I want to raise my son to be anti-racist, teaching him to be kind and embrace differences isn’t enough. It’s easy to teach our children how the world should be. Although more difficult, we must also teach our children about discrimination and violence in America, why they exist, and how we can and must actively fight against the beliefs and systems that perpetuate inequity. Many parents worry that talking to their child about race will make their child racist – that drawing attention to our differences will lead to prejudice. Numerous studies show that, in fact, the opposite is true. Pediatric psychologist Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart explained in a webinar panel that, “As early as 6 months of age, babies notice racial differences. By 3 or 4, if they’re not told, educated and guided, they will start to develop racial bias.” We all have conscious and unconscious biases. It is human nature to find patterns, make judgments and categorize the world around us. But being aware of both our personal and cultural biases is critical. We encounter prejudices every day, and if we don’t constantly recognize and correct them, they become our own. Without any action on my part, my son will learn harmful stereotypes and ideologies about women, the LGBTQ community and people of color. I can’t shield him from these ideas, but I can ensure that he doesn’t believe them. Lawyer, professor and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality describes how individuals have distinct identities that intersect in ways that impact how they are viewed, understood and treated. We all worry about the safety and well-being of our children, but my fears as the parent of a white son are distinctly different than those of parents with daughters or Black children. Ennis describes how “the parents of Black sons in particular have to spell out, in excruciating detail, what to do if and when they have an encounter with law enforcement.” The conversations in our household will certainly be different, but they are still necessary. Discussing our identities requires
an awareness of the ways in which some are oppressed and under-resourced, some hold power and privilege, and some experience both. So how will I talk to my son about his race? How will I teach him confidence and self-love while simultaneously teaching him about the enslavement, exploitation and marginalization of Black people in America? The point here isn’t to make him feel guilty or ashamed of being white or male. But it’s important for him to recognize the ways that this country was built for us – and not others – to thrive. Recognizing all the ways we hold privilege and understanding our identities and how they determine our role in society helps us to see where we have agency. We can develop courage and learn to be allies and advocates. We don’t have to be silent or complicit – and so we won’t.
HOW TO BEGIN
The work of raising anti-racist kids can begin even before they can talk. Lockhart encourages parents to represent BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color) authors, characters and artists into their child’s life as early as infancy. “Seeing a person of color in a book or cartoon shouldn’t be strange or abnormal,” she says. “It should be part of everyday life.” This is especially important for families whose communities are predominantly white. Evaluate the ways in which you intentionally or subconsciously surround your family with other white people and consider how you can reset your own biases. For your child, normalizing diversity early can help to prevent racial bias. When our children do begin to talk, we can prepare to answer their questions and talk openly about race. Dr. Caryn Park, professor at the School of Education at Antioch University Seattle, describes the hypothetical scenario of a white child seeing a Black person in public. The child might observe to her parent that she has noticed that the person looks different, even if there is no value judgement. The child will then “look to the adults for a cue […] to track how my adult is responding to this observation I have made,” Park says in the aforementioned webinar panel with Lockhart. When adults respond with panic or embarrassment, Park describes how the child’s first moment of observation is now associated with the idea that it’s not okay to talk about race and furthermore, it’s not okay to notice when people are different. By avoiding a conversation, you ensure not that your child will be unaware of race but rather, they will learn about it from the world around us instead of from you. In a recent interview, Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, draws a parallel to sex: Kids will learn and be curious about sex whether we’re ready or not. Would we rather they be left to their own devices or talk to us, their parents? If you don’t know how to start a conversation, Park suggests asking your child, “What do you think about this difference?” and teaching from there. If your child is in a situation where they are the minority, notice if they feel uncomfortable and be willing to talk about it. In situations where they are the majority, remind them what it feels like to be different, and encourage them to be welcoming of kids who might be in the minority and speak up when other kids are unkind. Conversations might feel awkward, silly or obvious, but they can have a significant impact. One study from 2011 found that 5- to 7-year-old white kids who discussed race with their parents for one week showed less racial bias than kids who didn’t. DISTRICT FRAY | 57
LIFE The question of when and how to talk about what depends on the child. Their age, personality and development are all factors. But by setting a precedent that it’s important to talk about complex, sensitive topics and ensuring they know early in life that it’s okay to ask and you’re ready to engage with them, you can follow their lead and be prepared to respond to questions as they arise.
9 BITE-SIZED RESOURCES 1. 13th // Netflix documentary
I’m sharing my story not as an expert, but as an imperfect human and new mom who cares deeply about raising a generation that is more kind, compassionate and anti-racist than my own. Of course, to be good teachers, we must first educate ourselves. The journey of raising anti-racist children is ongoing, and while it starts with our own reeducation, we don’t need to be perfect to begin. By teaching our children about identity, celebrating diversity, talking to them openly and encouraging them to call out hate when they see it, we can start to make positive change in our communities. Being an adult in a child’s life is both a responsibility and an opportunity. We all have much to learn and as parents – especially new ones – we might feel lost, overwhelmed or unqualified. Protecting our children is hard enough without also teaching them how to make the world a better place. But I’m going to try to do both, and I invite you to join me. Claire Smalley is an art director and graphic designer living in Northern Virginia.
2. The Conscious Kid // Parenting + education through a critical race lens // On Instagram @theconsciouskid 3. Curious Parenting // A community for caregivers of all kinds interested in raising resilient, liberated kids // On Instagram @curious.parenting 4. “The Difference Between Being ‘Not Racist’ and AntiRacist” // TED Talk by Ibram X. Kendi 5. EmbraceRace // An organization focused on supporting racial justice for all children // www.embracerace.org 6. “Raising White Kids with Jennifer Harvey” // Aired May 21, 2020 on the Integrated Schools podcast 7. This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell 8. “The Urgency of Intersectionality” // TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw 9. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
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PEEK INTO PADDLEBOARDING WORDS BY M.K. KOSZYCKI
PLAY | BEGINNER’S GUIDE Looking for new ways to play around the District? Paddleboarding is a great way to get outside, enjoy beautiful views of the city and get moving. As each person stands on their own board, it’s socially distanced in nature. Speaking of nature, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of local flora and fauna as you propel across the DMV on your board. Check out the history of the sport, a guide to gear and where to go in D.C. to paddle. Plus, we spoke to a D.C. denizen who loves paddleboarding to go even more indepth into the world of the sport. The Beginnings of Paddleboarding The origin of paddleboarding, also called stand-up paddleboarding (SUP for short), dates back thousands of years when ancient Peruvian fishermen used boards made of reeds along with paddles to propel themselves out to sea. Modern iterations of the sport were formed in Hawaii, born out of techniques created by three surf instructors in Waikiki. Today, it’s a sport of choice for those living near or visiting major bodies of water around the world, and the D.C. area is no exception. What You Need to Get Started Most paddleboards are anywhere from 10 to 11 feet long. You can purchase inflatable versions (great for those on the go or with limited space) or a traditional epoxy paddleboard. There’s also the option to purchase a softtop paddleboard, which tends to be more affordable and beginner-friendly. Some come with a paddle; in other instances, you may need to purchase one separately. Paddleboards are easily purchased at sporting goods stores like Dick’s and REI Co-op. You can also buy online from places like Overstock. If you want to shop local, stores like Pumped Up SUP in Bethesda, East of Maui in Annapolis and Potomac Paddlesports in Potomac are great places to start and get a personal touch when shopping for a board. East of Maui and Potomac Paddlesports also offer lessons to beginners and seasoned paddleboarders who are looking to improve their skills. Prices for paddleboards, paddles and sets including both vary greatly, from $200 to well over $1,000. If you want to try the sport on for size before you commit to a paddle and board of your own, many places in the area allow you to rent a board. Where to Paddleboard Boating in DC offers paddleboard rentals at Fletcher’s Boathouse, Key Bridge Boathouse, Thompson Boat Center and the Wharf Boathouse, all for $22 an hour. There’s currently a one-hour limit for the 2020 season, and hours and availability vary depending on which location you choose. Under normal circumstances, other Boating in DC locations offer paddleboarding, but certain locations remain closed in the wake of Covid-19. To meet others passionate about paddleboarding in D.C., you can find plenty of paddleboarding groups on the popular site Meetup. If you’re looking for competitive options and a place to keep your paddleboard, check out the memberships at Washington Canoe Club. They also offer other watersports, such as marathon canoe and outrigger canoe racing. 60 | JULY 2020
We spoke to local paddleboarder, social sculptor and chief creative strategist Philippa Hughes – who runs arts newsletter The Pink Line Project and cultural project Looking For America, among other creative endeavors – about the sport, what ignited her passion for it and how you can try it out, too. District Fray: What do you do when you aren’t paddleboarding? Philippa Hughes: I organize cross-political conversations using art as a spark for conversation. I’ve been doing this since just after the 2016 election. It started around my dinner table and then evolved into a national project called Looking For America, in which we curated art exhibits and opportunities to break bread in communities across the country. We asked, “What does it mean to be American in your community?” How did you first get into paddleboarding? What attracted you to the sport? I started surfing about 15 years ago when I went to a surf camp in Costa Rica. I try to surf whenever possible at the nearby beaches, but I can’t always get there. So, I took up paddleboarding as a way to satisfy my yearning to be on the water. It’s so easy! I can bike from my house to the boathouse in 20 minutes. Tell me about the first time you ever paddleboarded. The first time I ever paddleboarded was when I bought a new board and launched it into the Potomac. Even though I’d never done it before, I figured I’d be okay since I’d been surfing, which is a lot harder. Where do you paddleboard in the D.C. area? I keep my board at the Washington Canoe Club, which includes members who participate in all kinds of water sports. We even have Olympic contenders. The members all pitch in to take care of the building and dock. People are always making improvements and cooking out and just hanging out on the dock. It’s pretty amazing. The paddleboarders organize races sometimes to keep things interesting, but it’s all in good fun. Have you ever gone paddleboarding outside of D.C.? Yes! I make it a point to paddleboard everywhere I go anywhere near any kind of body of water! I have even paddled in eight countries: BVI [the British Virgin Islands], Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Portugal [and] Tanzania. What is your best piece of advice for paddleboarding beginners? [The] main thing is to relax. I find that when people are tense, they seem more wobbly. Also, I recommend watching YouTube videos. I watched a few at the beginning to learn how to stroke more efficiently. What about advice for someone who is a seasoned paddleboarder like yourself, and wants to improve or learn new skills and techniques? YouTube videos are really great. Also, there are some master paddlers in the area who race and give great advice if you get to know them, and, every once in a while, they lead workshops. Entering races also motivates you to figure out how to get better. [The] main thing is to practice proper stroke technique. The stroke is the most important thing!
FIRST PAGE. Philippa Hughes. Photo by Max Cook. THIRD PAGE. Hughes. Photo by Kevin Rooney.
Follow Hughes on Instagram @realpippagrams and learn more about her at www.philippahughes.com. Check out the list below for places to paddle and other resources. Visit websites for openings and availability during Covid-19. Ballpark Boathouse Potomac Avenue and First Street in SE, DC www.boatingindc.com // @boatingindc Capital SUP 7314 Edgewood Rd. Annapolis, MD www.capitalsup.com // @capitalsup
Potomac Paddlesports www.potomacpaddlesports.com // @potomacpaddlesports Potomac River Surf www.potomacriversup.org Pumped Up SUP www.pumpedupsup.com // @pumpedupsup
East of Maui 2444 Solomons Island Rd. Unit G, Annapolis, MD www.eastofmauiboardshop.com // @east_of_maui_boardshop
Sunrise SUP Pier 7 Marina, 48 South River Rd. Edgewater, MD www.sunrisesup.com // @sunrise_sup
Fletcher’s Boathouse 4940 Canal Rd. NW, DC www.boatingindc.com // @boatingindc
The Surfrider Foundation // Washington, D.C. Chapter www.meetup.com/surfriderdc // @surfriderdc
Key Bridge Boathouse 3500 Water St. NW, DC www.boatingindc.com // @boatingindc NoVa and Shenandoah Hiking and Paddling Crew www.meetup.com/NoVa-Hiking-Paddling-Crew // @nova.hike.paddle.crew Paddle Something www.meetup.com/Paddle-Something
Thompson Boat Center 2900 Virginia Ave. NW, DC www.boatingindc.com // @boatingindc Washington Canoe Club 3700 Water St. NW, DC www.washingtoncanoeclub.org // @washingtoncanoeclub The Wharf Boathouse 700 Water St. SW, DC www.boatingindc.com // @boatingindc
Paddlestroke SUP www.paddlestrokesup.com // @paddlestrokesup DISTRICT FRAY | 61
PLAY Living and working in a bustling city can create a sense of disconnect with the natural world, especially when you’re stuck inside working on your computer all day. Luckily, that feeling of longing for the sun, grass and sky as you stare out onto the world from your window can be solved. The District is full of lush parks and gardens, hidden green gems that you can escape to at a moment’s notice. Whether you want to relax and soak up some sun on your lunch break, picnic in the park with family and friends (6 feet apart, of course), tour a beautiful garden or just leave your house, these D.C. green spaces have all that you need.
ANACOSTIA PARK Anacostia Park is a breath of fresh air in the middle of D.C. With so much open space and a myriad of activities provided, it isn’t hard to have a fun and relaxing day when you visit. This park truly has it all, including roller skate rentals, tennis courts, paddling and boating rentals, basketball courts, playgrounds and outdoor fitness stations with free equipment, just to name a few. Whether you’re looking to get fit, play some pickup basketball, have a picnic or just sit back and enjoy the outdoors, Anacostia Park was made for you. Located at 1900 Anacostia Dr. SE, DC. Due to the pandemic, athletic fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, exercise facilities and equipment are temporarily unavailable. The Anacostia River Trail and the park as a whole are still open. Visitors are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines. 62 | JUNE 2020
Green Spaces A Breath of Fresh Air in D.C. WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN
FORT DUPONT PARK
Nestled between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, you will find a hidden oasis in the middle of the city. Constitution Gardens boasts lush green space and an island in the middle of a tranquil pond in a compact space. The peaceful spot was created for the 1976 bicentennial, reverting temporary offices to a natural haven for wildlife and a recreation spot for Washingtonians. Watch ducks swim around the pond, look for the names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence on Signer’s Island, go cloud watching or just enjoy a beautiful day in downtown D.C. Located at 850 Constitution Ave. NW, DC.
Fort Dupont Park, once an active fort during the Civil War, is now a 367-acre wooded park open to the public. Boasting beautiful nature trails, outdoor education programs, picnic areas, sports fields, biking trails, concerts, youth programs and Civil War programs, Fort Dupont is a park to visit during all seasons. This summer, consider applying for a plot at the park’s community garden for some much needed physical and mental renewal. Located at Minnesota Avenue in SE, DC.
Constitution Gardens is open 24 hours a day. Respect social distancing laws when visiting.
Open year-round from dawn to dusk. Due to the pandemic, Lanham Estate Picnic Area and Ridge Picnic Area in Fort Dupont Park are closed.
THE YARDS. Photo by Tate Holcombe // @tateholcombe.
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GEORGETOWN WATERFRONT PARK
MASON NECK STATE PARK
A newer addition to D.C.’s parks, Georgetown Waterfront Park is already a favorite among Washingtonians. Stretching along the banks of the Potomac River to the Key Bridge, visitors can enjoy some of the beautiful sites Georgetown has to offer in the quiet confines of the park. Pedestrians, cyclists and skaters have a designated pathway to enjoy views of boaters, kayakers and competitive rowing crews. Be sure to also check out the labyrinth, rain gardens, river steps and pergola while you’re there. Located at 3303 Water St. NW, DC.
A short drive from the city, Mason Neck State Park offers a wide range of activities to visitors looking to escape their usual 9 to 5 routine. Some of the park’s features include hiking trails, boat launch access, a playground and large picnic area. For avian enthusiasts, this park offers prime bird watching opportunities as it is a haven for migratory birds in the winter. With access to wetlands, forest, open water, ponds and open fields, Mason Neck is an ideal space to reconnect with nature. Located at 7301 High Point Rd. Lorton, VA.
The Georgetown Waterfront Park fountain is closed at this time as a public health precaution due to Covid-19.
Due to the pandemic, picnic shelters and group sites are open with an occupancy cap of 50 people. Guests must keep at least 6 feet apart from other guests.
GRAVELLY POINT PARK Gravelly Point Park has some breathtaking views. Thanks to its location north of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Gravelly Point is one of the best places in the entire country to watch planes land. If watching the metal birds isn’t your thing, feel free to take in the city skyline as you walk, bike or boat along the Potomac. While this park may not be as rich in amenities as some of the other green spaces in the D.C. area, its unique location makes this a prime spot for weekend hangouts. Access the peninsula by following the signs to take the George Washington Memorial Parkway south toward Ronald Reagan National Airport, exit at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Parking areas may be at reduced capacity due to the pandemic.
KENILWORTH PARK One of the more underrated spots to visit in D.C. is the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Open all year with activities unique to each season, there is never a bad time to go. During the current warmer months, explore the grounds and walk along the multiple historic ponds. Try and spot wildlife like frogs and turtles hiding among the flora. Follow the River Trail, go bird watching or even volunteer to help clean the area. This space is free to all. Located at 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE, DC. Entrance to the park is between Quarles and Anacostia Avenue and Douglas and Anacostia Avenue. Due to the pandemic, the Aquatic Gardens are closed until further notice. Open 9-5 p.m. everyday, adjusted hours on holidays.
KINGMAN + HERITAGE ISLANDS The state conservation area of Kingman and Heritage Islands is home to a multitude of indigenous plants and animals, providing the perfect natural getaway from the city. A destination for hikers, bikers, runners and paddlers, the island has a lot to offer D.C. residents. Each May, the annual Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival is held on the island to raise awareness about the green space. Proceeds from the festival fund the Living Classrooms educational program, a regional nonprofit that aims to provide youth with hands-on outdoor education, job training and wellness programming. Located at 575 Oklahoma Ave. NE, DC. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 64 | JUNE 2020
MERIDIAN HILL PARK Listed as a National Historic Landmark, Meridian Hill Park’s history dates back to the early 1800s when John Porter built a mansion on the grounds. The mansion became home to John Adams after he left the White House, it housed Union troops during the Civil War and there was even a lobby for the park to become the site of a new White House or the Lincoln Memorial. Instead, this beautiful Italian-inspired park has become one of D.C.’s favorite outdoor spaces to enjoy. Whether you’re planning on attending the weekly drum circle or you’re just looking to stroll along North America’s longest cascading fountain and amongst the multiple monuments and statues, Meridian Hill is a destination you should visit. Located at 16th and W Streets in NW, DC. Closes at 8 p.m. daily. The fountain is off at this time as a public health precaution due to Covid-19.
MONTROSE PARK Montrose Park has long been a favorite destination of Washingtonians, having been made into a public park by the U.S. government in 1911. Described as “one of the most beautiful and picturesque tracts within [the District’s] boundaries” during the 1904 Petition for Certain Improvements in Georgetown, Montrose Park is certainly a sight to behold. Some of its defining features include the Ropewalk, Summerhouse, Boxwood Gardens and beautiful mature canopy trees. Bordered on the west by Dumbarton Oaks Garden, on the north by Rock Creek Park and on the east by the Oak Hill Cemetery, visitors will feel as though they are far from any civilization. Located at 3052 R St. NW, DC. Open until dusk. Maintain social distancing measures during your visit.
THE NATIONAL ARBORETUM The National Arboretum is one of the District’s best kept secrets. If you took a poll of the city, I would bet that most Washingtonians haven’t made the trip down New York Avenue to visit this spot at all. The National Arboretum boasts beautiful outdoor gardens, the photographable National Capitol Columns, the National Bonsai Museum and a place to view cherry
blossoms away from the crowds. With all of these amenities and more, it is a wonder that more people don’t flock to its gates 24/7. The 446-acre property is open year-round, so you can view its beautiful vistas with a fresh perspective every season. Located at 3501 New York Ave. NE, DC. Currently open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 1-5 p.m. To ensure social distancing, there will be a limit of 200 cars allowed on the grounds at one time. All buildings, including the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, are closed due to the pandemic.
ROCK CREEK PARK Rock Creek Park is a huge green space in the middle of the District. In fact, it is actually more than twice the size of Central Park in New York City, at 1,754 acres. Go for a hike, learn about horseback riding, find a spot to picnic, rent a boat or play nine holes on the golf course. This iconic park stands out as the crown jewel of the D.C. parks and gardens available to Washingtonians when they are looking to connect with nature. Open year-round during daylight hours. Rock Creek Park Nature Center, exercise facilities, basketball courts, playgrounds, athletic fields and planetarium are closed due to the pandemic.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT ISLAND Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president, is home to miles of hiking trails through thick woods, swamplands ready to be explored via kayak and wildlife scurrying about wherever you look. Download a trail map and explore all the area has to offer for yourself. Avid bird watchers may want to bring a checklist to keep track of all of the avifauna they spot. This tranquil spot is a great escape from the city.
lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The entrance to the parking lot is located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge. The park is open, but guests are expected to maintain social distancing guidelines.
TIDAL BASIN The Tidal Basin, most commonly associated with the Cherry Blossom Festival, is one of Washington’s most iconic spots. Encompassing the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the George Mason Memorial, the John Paul Jones Memorial, the Floral Library and the Japanese Pagoda, there’s a chance you may have been once or twice. Soak in some history, witness the beautiful vistas or take a paddle boat ride and enjoy this distinctly D.C. space. Located at 1501 Maine Ave. SW, DC. Maintain social distancing protocols while out in public.
THE YARDS The Yards has quickly become a hotspot for D.C. residents to visit throughout the year. From hosting festivals and special events to providing a space for outdoor recreation and relaxation, The Yards has it all. Splash around in their wading pool this summer to cool off, or stop by one of the many restaurants or bars situated along the park. This premier, waterfront green space is a D.C. destination for good reason. Located at 355 Water St. SE, DC. Groups visiting the park are limited to 10 or less due to social distancing guidelines. The park requires visitors to keep 6 feet away from others and wear a mask at all times.
Theodore Roosevelt Island is accessible only from the northbound
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CyCLING During COvid
TO GrOup Or NOT TO GrOup? WORDS BY TRENT JOHNSON
Without gyms and fitness studios available for much of the summer, it’s no wonder people have turned to outdoor activities in and around the District to get the jolt they need. And even though spots are beginning to pick back up with proper social distancing and safety precautions in place, it’s likely some locals will opt to take it slow when returning to indoor options. One way to maintain an active lifestyle while getting outside is to hop on a bike. “We have people who have reached out [asking], 'Where do I ride?'” says Anne C. M. Hyman, president of Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, Inc. (PPTC). PPTC is one of many groups in D.C. that, before the pandemic, Photo courtesy of PPTC.
organized and planned large group rides for cyclists. From cityscapes to trail rides further into Virginia and Maryland, Hyman says it wasn’t uncommon to have 50 to 80 people in some of their larger gatherings. While the group has halted official get-togethers for the foreseeable future, Hyman says some members have grouped up in an unofficial capacity. “I pretty much laid the ground rule: If you’re going to ride with friends, I don’t want to hear about it,” she says. “We can’t be liable as a club offering group rides. [But] this is one of the wonderful things about our community. We have these relationships with people who are close to each other and want to ride with each other.” DISTRICT FRAY | 67
PLAY On the flip side, one positive aspect of cycling is the ability to go it alone. While you may miss out on the camaraderie and companionship of riding long distances in a group setting, there are still a number of positives gleaned from riding a bike whether you’re on your street, around your neighborhood or strolling through a park. “Develop your skills right now, ride in a straight line with one hand off the handlebars, then two hands off, practice taking tight turns, learn how to stop very quickly [with] panic stopping,” Hyman says. “If you’re new to a bike as an adult, take a little bit of time to practice some of these skills, and they’ll absolutely help and benefit [you] when you’re in a group situation.” People seem to be heeding this advice, as bike shops are enjoying long lines of excited customers looking to either maintain or upgrade their wheels. In mid-June, the line to get in the doors at Fairlington’s Spokes Etc. was noticeable from the car. Location manager Roberto Greenwood says the enthusiasm for biking has remained strong throughout stay-at-home orders and quarantine. “We actually never shut down,” he says. “We took into account all the CDC guidelines, and we did one-on-ones for two and a half months. In the past months, we’ve run out of bikes. Everyone seemed to take it very well. Everyone is willing to wait outside and do their part to help us stay open.” He says the store has been sold out of bikes for a few weeks now, which seems to indicate that more people than ever are interested in taking up cycling as a hobby. A few years ago, Greenwood says people looked at bikes as toys for their kids rather than utilities for fitness and transportation, but he believes the mindset is beginning to shift.
“Most definitely, we have seen a big uptick in sales,” he says. “Not only is it for exercise, but people are taking it as an alternative mode of transportation now that people don’t have to be in a rush at all times. We’ve seen a huge uptick in bike commuting.” Eventually it will be safe to not only pedal alone, but with others. For cyclists like Hyman, this form of unity is one of the reasons her passion for the sport has only grown over the years. “There’s a joy about being on a bike and it’s amplified when you’re with others that really find joy when riding,” she says. “It’s the friendship and the communal experience. It’s getting done with the ride and talking about it and hanging out. It’s things you see and share together. You look around and observe and experience together. Cycling is innately an individual sport. You’re the only person that can push your pedals and move your wheels. But there’s a great sense of community around cycling. It just takes the right people to do it.” And though the city and surrounding areas are beginning to open back up, she says cycling in groups is still on hold for the foreseeable future. “As far as putting a timestamp, I can’t and won’t,” she says. “The virus determines the timeline for opening things back up. As we see in other states, you might get through all of this and have to shut it down again. I don’t want to get anyone hopeful when it’s a very fluid situation.” Learn more about PPTC at www.potomacpedalers.org and Spokes Etc. at www.spokesetc.com. For detailed information on safety guidelines and recommendations while cycling, visit www.usacycling.org.
TUESDAY NIGHT TRIVIA IS BACK! PLAY ALL SUMMER SUPERHEROES ZOMBIES REGISTER AT DCFRAY.COM/EVENTS 68 | JULY 2020
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AUGI WATER FOUNDERS
TALK FASHION, HYDRATION + INCLUSION WORDS BY KELSEY COCHRAN At only 20 years old, Augustine Amoakohene and Daniel Green are single-handedly running the high-quality, eco-friendly alkaline water company Augi Water based in Alexandria. Though these entrepreneurs may be young, they are ready to take the world by storm and change the way we all drink water. District Fray spoke with Amoakohene and Green, who answered questions together about their work, life, style and favorite drinks, rapid-fire style. District Fray: What inspired you to create Augi Water? Augustine Amoakohene and Daniel Green: Growing up, I was always into the higher quality waters. I always drank waters like Fiji Water, Evian and Voss because of my mom. She started off as a nurse, so she found it important to drink better quality water or consume better quality anything, because she always says that the most important thing in life is your health. I was inspired to make my own water basically because I wanted to provide something even better than Fiji [or] Evian. Why was it important to you to make your company environmentally conscious? Bigger brands like Fiji and Evian don’t really focus on the environmental impact of their work. They just care about their water quality, which is okay. But in our society and the time we live in right now, it’s important to take the environment into consideration because of global warming. Have local retailers started carrying the brand? At the moment, no. But we do wish [for] local retailers [to] carry the brand in the future. We have been speaking to several retailers in the area, along with distributors that have the ability to put us in more mainstream retailers such as Whole Foods, Streets Market and stores of that nature. I’ve also spoken to the president and a co-founder of Union Kitchen when I applied to the product accelerator program, so I would want to follow up with them in the future and try to get into local stores. Right now we are talking to a lot of stores in California, and those are the ones that are the most open to carrying our product at the moment. [Note: After this interview was conducted, Augi Water became available for purchase at Glen’s Garden Market.] 70 | JULY 2020
FROM TOP. Augustine Amoakohene. Photo by Daniel Green. Daniel Green. Photo by Augustine Amoakohene.
IN OTHER WORDS In light of current events and as a Black-owned business, how does Augi Water hope to promote diversity and inclusion? We wouldn’t want to exclude our product and promote it only to any one race. We promote all races to be a part of the Augi Water lifestyle. We are making sure to promote Black Lives Matter across all of our social media. It’s really simple, we wouldn’t ever exclude anyone from any race, that’s just not in our nature. How [Augi Water] was built and how we started was always on [the mission to] accept all. As a local brand, how do you give back to the community? We are a smaller brand still, so we’re not yet at the point where we can give a lot of money to organizations that are in support of individuals in need and the Black community. Daniel was at the protests, giving out free water bottles to anyone who needed water after getting tear gassed or to drink. We do the little things that we can do at the moment. As we grow, we are going to give
as much back as possible because that is probably one of our main goals as a company. What are your hopes for the future of your business? To grow and expand, but also to improve our product in any way possible. We are ready to take in any feedback from customers who enjoy Augi Water. One of our main goals is to create bottles that are 100 percent compostable, which is the next step from our biodegradable bottles. Our number one goal is to benefit the environment, not only to focus on producing high quality water. We hope to make life easier for the customer when it comes to helping the environment. Learn more about Augi Water at www.augiwater.com. Follow them on Instagram @augi.water or on Twitter and Facebook @augiwater. Find Augi Water at Glen’s Garden Market: 2001 S St. NW, DC.
What does style mean to you? It’s just natural, something that just comes to you. To me, style is just something that makes me feel good, makes me happy. How do you incorporate style into the Augi Water brand? We do photoshoots with designer furniture or architecture. Our style for the brand and our campaigns is based on our surroundings. Which brands do you hope to collaborate with? We’re planning to collaborate with some street brands, and an upcoming brand we’re working with is Seventh Heaven, owned by John Ross. What would you describe as your personal style? High fashion streetwear. What’s your favorite place to hang out? Daniel’s house. That’s where we come up with the most ideas for the brand. What gives you confidence? My style, what I wear on a daily basis. My swagger. Self-love. What trend are you into right now? I’ve recently been into architecture and following architects on social media. What trend do you dislike? TikTok. Who is your style icon? Osiris and Dior [New York-based stylists and brothers featured in Yeezy and Off-White campaigns]. What’s your go-to work from home outfit? A white tee, Needles sweatpants and Yeezy slides. Still or sparkling water? Still. Sparkling at restaurants. Favorite non-water drink? Sweet tea or cream soda, specifically &pizza’s Cereal Milk Cream Soda. What’s your favorite aspect of your work? Having my name on a bottle and owning an alkaline water company since not many people can say that. Especially being 20 years old and African Americans, owning a business that is on its way to being successful is a huge accomplishment for us both. What’s one thing you can’t live without? Augi Water. If I couldn’t say Augi Water, I would say my brothers and friends. What do you love about the DMV? I just like the fact that everything is so close, everything is accessible. The restaurants, especially in D.C., are better than anywhere else. I just like the energy of the people. People from D.C. are one of a kind. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Staying humble, listening before speaking, putting God first, your health second and everything else third. And, though it’s cliché, never let anyone put you in a box. You can actually do anything you put your mind to. What’s your goal for 2020? I want to be in a significant amount of stores locally so that my peers and family members are able to go into the store and buy Augi Water. It just feels good. DISTRICT FRAY | 71
THIS IS MY
Illustration inspired by the words of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Follow E$ on Instagram @theedollarsign.
72 | JULY 2020
ILLUSTRATION BY E$
ANOTHER HARD SELTZER? YEAH, BUT WE’VE GOT ANTIOXIDANT VITAMIN C.
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