Potholes; and other things worth fixing

It is uncomfortable for me to take a walk in Memphis. Not for fear of crime. It is uncomfortable to walk through Memphis because I am forced to acknowledge the division, and blatant economic disparities between communities.

On Saturday, for the first time, I walked from campus to a local coffee shop on Broad Ave, City & State. I made my way from Rhodes campus; past the gates and gothic architecture, past the ginormous houses lining North Parkway, past all the signs of staggering wealth. I found myself in Binghampton, astonished by the difference half a mile makes. The quality of sidewalks began to deteriorate, the crosswalk button hung on its hinges, surrounded by unpaved parking lots and buildings for lease.

What shocked me most was viewing Broad Ave for the first time. I knew nothing about the street, or coffee shop before I arrived, and I genuinely could not believe my eyes. I stepped over the upturned sidewalk leading out of Binghampton and onto the freshly paved street, not a pothole in sight. I took in the crosswalks painted a fresh green, the brand-new bike lanes and watched in awe as white hipsters zipped past me on electric rent scooters. Men with Trump stickers drove past in their 4Runners blasting Yo Gotti. It was a strange sort of utopia, perfect if you try not to think about it.  

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Amidst the novelty stores and bike shops there exists one black-owned business. One. In a primarily black city, a quarter of a mile away from a black neighborhood. The lack of black businesses in Memphis is the exact reason it is essential that we support the few that are present. As someone who is not a Memphis native, it is at times difficult to find businesses owned by locals as they are seldom publicized. It does require effort, but it is imperative we do not use that as an excuse. It’s hard to come to terms with this fact, especially as people of color, but we often become a part of the problem. At times it is difficult but uplifting black businesses that will allow the neighborhood to grow economically without silencing the voices of minorities is crucial.

 

 

Meet Naiima Love. She is one of three women who design and operate for Mbabazi.

Naiima also sells beautiful clothes, crochet items, and assorted accessories through her Instagram @naiimalove.

She’s from Memphis by way of Dallas, TX and has such a calming, almost maternal energy. She is spiritual, she is kind, and most importantly, she’s doing the damn thing. Most of the jewelry housed in the store was crafted by Naiima, as well as a good portion of the clothes.

Mbabazi is a house of style with a specialty in African garments that has been open for around two years on Broad Ave. All items in the store are either handsewn in the back, or handmade by a group of thirteen women in Uganda. One of these women happens to be the mother of the owner, Grace Byeitima. This Afrocentric fashion house not only means a lot to the community but represents a larger cultural unification. There is a certain humanity present in the store; knowing that the partners have personal relationships with the Ugandan women who assist them is so refreshing. Go out and support your local black women!