Where Black Excellence, H. White Men's Room, and Community Meet

When one thinks of Urban Contemporary Art, Minneapolis comes to mind. But when it comes to Urban Contemporary Fashion, it almost seems like a foreign concept. The Twin Cities fashion scene is at the early stages of appreciation as local creatives are showcasing the many faces and cultures that call this area home. HW Men’s Room was founded by Houston White in 1978, starting as an upscale barbershop located in the Camden Community in North Minneapolis serving black men and the community.

In the heart of H White Men’s Room Barbershop began the evolution of HWMR expanding from styling black men to coffee & conversation to lifestyle and fashion. Today, HWMR is best known as an urban community lifestyle label with the mantra and brand, Black Excellence. HW’s Black Excellence and fashion line King Kunta are more than just brands and logs produced by HWMR, they’re a part of a movement. HW has showcased through style, fashion and community events its commitment to challenging the normalized ideas of silencing black voices and the erasure of black people from existing “traditional” spaces.

Whether you are looking for a tee, hoodie, or hat, HWMR offers classic streetwear with a contemporary urban feel. HW features fashion with a positive message and a nod to yesteryear with collections such as BE the Change, Black Excellence Collection, HWMR Classic, and the SMaRT Art Collection. As a woman of color, I respect the space and the fact that it is reserved for Black Men as a barbershop. Ways that you can show support are by attending HWMR hosted events, stopping in to shop merch, and by telling the Black and Latinx men in your life to stop in HWMR to get lined up, have a cup of coffee, and tell two more people to stop in.

Bonus Info:

At the time of this posting, there was a “30% Off All ‘Classic’ Black Excellence Tee’s” when using the discount code: BHM30.  Be sure to support HWMR and everything that they are representing for our community by stopping into HWMR or shopping online at HWMR to get your urban fashion look right.

A Win for the Black Community: Village Financial Cooperative

what tragedy brought

It was on July 6, 2016 Philando Castile was murdered by St. Anthony Police leaving a community feeling powerless, angry, terrified, and left with so many questions. How could this happen? How do we recover from this tragedy? Why did this happen? How can we reclaim our power as a community?  

A community seeking answers through healing, collaboration, and ensuring continued existence soon created Blexit (the real one). Blexit, a community organization seeking empowerment within black communities that challenge the root of oppressive systems by finding ways to exit them by creating and/or using replacement systems that support the community (#investdivest). With more than the idea and a plan coming to life the Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) came together and powers combined to take with action.

Thus, forming what is known as Village Trust Financial Cooperative (VTFC) a banking alternative.

big banks and people of color

Big Banks are traditional financial institutions have been known to habitually exploit and profit off of people of color through practices that focus on penalization and punishment for profit. With accessibility to traditional banking no longer being a viable option for many, people are looking for an alternative.  

Members of communities of color are seeking financial institutions that they can trust, as the current relationship between Big Banks and communities of color uneasy. Village Financial Cooperative provides an alternative and helps reclaim economic power within the Black Community and trust in the (African) American dollar.

what is this black-led financial cooperative

Through collaboration and action the road to solidifying the first Black-led state-chartered credit union to be approved in the last 15 years, Village Financial Cooperative Credit Union is a reality. A significant difference between Big Banking and Village Trust Financial is that VTFC is a nonprofit organization that operates following the co-op model designed to serve its members.

Village Financial Cooperative is a credit union that provides free check cashing and start up capital for Black Cooperatives. Members of Village Trust have ownership in the credit union and have a vote in operations and services.

Big Banks on the other hand are for profit financial institutions that practice penalization and punishment for profit (all of those extra hidden fees you end up paying for everything bank related) and in turn that money goes into the pockets of CEOs and shareholders.

membership and getting involved

This mission-driven financial cooperative is located on the Northside (Minneapolis) located at 227 Colfax Ave N Suite 230 currently serving the community. Membership and pledges are still being accepted by those that that live, work, attend school and/or worship in Hennepin and Ramsey County.

Village Financials membership goal is 5,000, and you have the opportunity to help them meet that goal. Not only do you have the chance to show your support right VTFC has opportunities for the community to get involved by pledging, sponsoring, volunteering or taking advantage of the interning opportunities. You can expect to attend the grand affair and opening during Juneteenth. Pledging today won’t cost you a thing except bit of your time. Get involved (or pledge) today by visiting https://villagefinancial.org.

Don’t just be woke, do the work.

Wanted: Twin Cities Local Events & POC Businesses

I am lover of all things beautiful and have an obsession with fabrics, textiles, and accessories. While communities of color tend to fuel the most innovative and creative concepts from fashion, food, technology, and in just about everything else in the world, there’s nothing more beautiful or powerful than sharing our own culture, narrative, fashion & style, art, ways of knowing, and ideas on our own terms. It’s just hard to figure out when and where we can connect.

Twin Cities Events Wanted

A major long term goal and my personal mission is to embrace, support, and promote what’s going on in our communities. I am more into the fashion scene, but I really want to expand into other areas such as art, conferences, POC owned businesses/brands/services, community events, recognition of the good things that are happening, fashion shows, etc.

This is my plea begging for information from you. If you have information on what’s doing down in our communities, please let me know so I can pass the info along. It’s cool if there are events that are promoted for everyone to attend, but again I am on a search for events that support communities of color. I am also looking for culturally relevant events that are taking place in the Midwest/ Heartland region, as well. Let’s get the word out. Send information my way via email, contact forms or comment sections. Be forewarned, last minute events may not get scooped. Timing is everything.

Open to Recommendations for Twin Cities & Midwest Events for POC

Please, remember that I am a little bit bougie (though, my bank account respectfully disagrees), so VIP is always appreciated.

I can’t wait to see what events are coming up. Thank you in advance for your support and suggestions. I will see you out there!