Monthly Archives: August 2016

Black People and Coffee Shops

For nearly a decade now I have been going to coffee shops in my spare time, at first it was to write poetry and just detox on a Saturday afternoon after a hard week of working. Then it got to the point where I would go sometimes during the week after work, whether it was with acquaintances, project proposals or on my lonesome.

I noticed at this point in my early to mid 20’s that I was one of a few UK born Africans who was interested in going to coffee shops just to chill. I used to wonder why our people did not go to coffee shops in the 2000’s but it is for similar reasons why some still do not go now (though I notice more people in them these days). They would rather make the drink at home, though a coffee shop should not be seen as just a place where you go to drink a coffee rather a place to socialise, develop ideas, relationships or just disappear.

I find 8 years later that there are more people going to coffee shops who are African/black as more people are realising what you can do in a coffee shop and what you can discuss, without pressure of the environment or time constraints to finish your drink.

The Europeans use coffee shops to socialise and chill with each other, its only the British who think going to the coffee shop is a upwardly mobile thing to do or have it as a treat. I have noticed that coffee shops are beginning to open later and so more people who are from backgrounds which do not drink or drink little alcohol are meeting friends and family in these places.

Black people could begin to be more sociable by meeting in these places, rather than thinking there are few places to go maybe just enjoying each others company in a place where you can have a warm drink or cool drink (in summer) might be a good place to get your personal and professional goals off the ground.

To finish, I often go to a couple of well known coffee shops as I am allergic to milk so I get the milk free options. I sometimes go to independent ones, though my favourite coffee shop which had a great atmosphere decided to expand and lost the atmosphere, that is not to say all coffee shops are like that. Though some coffee shops are family friendly with child seats, as others are work friendly with chairs and tables whilst one thing which is guaranteed in all is free WiFi.

Advertisements

Black Based Food Quarter

In the UK it is that time of year where the sun should be out and the weather is much warmer. This means there are festivals up and down the country and this includes African and Caribbean based ones, like most cultures food is an important aspect, how its prepared and cooked which makes it distinctive from other cultures.

It is good that there are food festivals of African and Caribbean foods, but what would be a great thing would be if there was incentives for the food vendors to create more businesses in particular areas in the UK.

In the studying and working within the regeneration sector, one of the project which spring to mind which I worked on was a food quarter, which was used as a basis for developing an ethnic food quarter in South Wales. This was seen as a way you could get jobs and investement into a local area.

Like many of the blogs I have written previously, I am no expert and I am not just trying to talk about the problem, I would like to add something of value into the discussion which is actionable.

There are areas of cities and towns in the UK which have ethnicities stamps on them, just not the Caribbean and African Stamp. This is demonstrated by the South and South East Asians who have their own areas and towns, with restaurants, food shops and market stalls, like China Town and Pakistani and Indian areas, throughout the UK..

For example each area of the country where there is a sizeable South Asian population you will find a area with their businesses and restaurants.

For South Asians you have:

  • Curry Mile – Birmingham
  • Brick Lane – London
  • Golden Mile – Leicester

For China Towns they are in the following Towns and Cities:

  • Birmingham
  • London
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Scotland
  • Sheffield
  • Wales

These ethnic food quarters have tourist visits as they have a uniqueness to their food and goods. In African and Caribbean areas there are no food businesses which are open to tourism and the restaurants which are open, are usually all the things which are said to be part of a bad customer experience.

Based on the needs of black people in the UK and worldwide a food quarter should be created for various reasons. The main ones are for money to stay with in the community and for investement from outside. You can see this with the China Towns and the Asian area.

Asians (South and South Eastern) will shop within the food quarters for their own foods, goods and other items, but also you will see other races coming into the areas to eat food in the restaurants. If black people do create a food quarter we would need to make our food more neutral and appealing to the greater masses like the Asians do. This will be more economically prosperous for the black based food quarter.

The prices of the food would need to be more affordable, if black food businesses were to say organically create a food quarter in a particular area, the vision would need to be shared in regards to the direction which is taken, this would then make sure that there is a high standard of food and service delivery, something which is not necessarily in place at the moment, but can be worked on outside of the public sphere.

The service and food standards would be guaranteed by the level of training the businesses incorporate. Another would be the suppliers as there would be a need to buy from suppliers who supplied foods which the businesses could sell, which is safe and of a high standard. 

There are some good quality, product and customer service being provided by, black food businesses, but they are either not owned by black people or in places where the price is not affordable. This is fine for these places but then there is a lack of employment of our own people a food quarter would ensure we can create our own businesses but also employ our own people at the same time, with a stamp that we do live in the UK or which ever country we are in around the world (outside of Africa).

Further information

Balti Triangle (Birmingham)

Curry Mile (Birmingham)

Golden Mile (Leicester)

Food Quarter (Bath)

China Towns (Europe)

Birmingham Caribbean Festival

 

Regeneration not gentrification

There has been a lot of talk, road shows on and documentaries on gentrification within black areas, the story does need to be told. Having studied regeneration and worked in a aspect of this (digital inclusion). I know that there is a fine balance between regeneration and gentrification.

The aim of most local authorities, regional, local councils and municipalities in areas, which are deprived, is to attract investment into the area. This could be from national and multinational companies. To do this a local authority will build office buildings and warehouses which these companies can move into, once they commit to moving their operations into the local area.

There is also an ambition to develop housing and social activities of the residents in that area. This can be through having new housing being built which his largely funded by a supermarket.

Regeneration can benefit all if it is designed and local residents get to access opportunities the same as everyone else. This means you will need information about financial and social capital (something I have talked about before). The problems come when you are not able to get the information or resources to set up businesses or get new housing.

Gentrification occurs when big businesses come to a town or city, which has bid for them to come and set up shop, with the local councils promise of giving tax breaks and skilled workers. If you are not a skilled worker then you might not get a decent paying role and usually big companies bring staff with them so many positions are filled.

If you want to get housing, often you begin to be priced out by the people who have the decent jobs with the new companies who have moved in and are living locally with new shops appearing which are out of your budget.

Regeneration is a fine line, I often explain to people that regeneration is getting investment and developing poor areas to make them more prosperous, though the people who live their now need to prosper with the prosperity, not be or feel left behind.

To get away from the gentrification theme and build on a regeneration theme more people need information and access to regeneration resources and information. If you are interest (if you live in the UK) you can look on the upliftment information community resources page. We have also listed some links below to help you find out more about regeneration and how you can help develop your local area.

Further Information

Upliftment Information Community Resources

Direct Black Investment

Tesco Building 4,000 Homes

Supermarkets building Homes Above Stores

Regeneration – Wembley Regeneration Project