"Power is the ability to get things done despite the resistance and opposition of others" Dr. Claud Anderson, Powernomics
In two days we head to Africa to attempt to build an all black supply chain for our coffee.
Black farmers, black exporters, black importers, black roaster, black baristas, and marketing centered in hip hop culture that celebrates black rituals of consumption.
We understand that black communities globally are in need of reparations due to the effects of slavery and colonialism, and that much of the wealth generated by these systems can still be found circulating in the over 200 billion dollars generated by the coffee industry today.
We also understand that building a community dependent on said reparations is foolish. Dr. Claud Anderson said it best. "Power is the ability to get things done despite the resistance and opposition of others" A black future, especially in coffee, is dependent on rebuilding economic power, in industries where we create or consume significantly. It going to be vital to find ways to, as Dr. Anderson says, "pool resources and power to produce, distribute and consume in a way that creates goods.”
Why does this even matter? Well in the words of Dr Claud Anderson “Nobody wants to propose black solutions for black problems.” If we’re really going to attempt to address the effects of slavery and colonialism in coffee, then those most directly by those systems have to be centered in the primary means of ownership and compensation. That means centering black ownership in each area of the supply chain, so that funds generated by black labor circulate in black communities.
When we first started selling Guji Mane, it all seems so simple. Start a brand, pay a lot of money for good tasting coffee grown by black folks, and educate black consumers about our connection to coffee through hip-hop culture. Then we found out the 5$ we were paying per pound wasn't going to the the black farmers we saw on the website. It was going to faceless traders, who paid faceless importing companies, who purchased from faceless exporters, who bought from from faceless washing stations. We know if we really wanted to connect black communities through coffee, it wasn’t going to be through traditional means.
The first step for us was building relationships with black folks in the global coffee community through the internet, and documenting what we leaned via our podcast. The next step happened when the same global coffee community invited us to come to Africa to learn about coffees neglected black cultural perspective, and the third step happened homies in the states funded a gofundme in 72 hours to send us over document the experience.
We’ve got a long way to go to integrate all of our products, and a lot of this seems beyond the job description for two ex teach era who like to make music and nerd about coffee in the hood. But we that’s honestly our strength. We know we’re going to need a lot of help along the way. And in fact the literally the point of a supply chain. No one person can do it all.
Building this isn’t going to be simple. It’s not a one stop process, and there are lot more countries we want include. There's a lot more books we need to read ( Powernomics by Dr. Claud Anderson is a good start for anyone interested), but for us, this the start.
It won’t be easy, and it probably will be another five-ten years of traveling and fundraising make it strong as it needs to be to really support the communities across the diaspora, but we’re committed to idea of vertically integrating our destinies, in all our their diverse experiences with anti blackness, through the very same industries that have disrupted our flourishing, over the soundtrack of a hip hop beat.
We really believe this thing could work. And by the grace of the Most High, it’s a thing that will help us all to be a little more free.
If you’re interested in following the behind the scenes of our trip be sure to check our Patreon where Bartholomew will be posting daily recaps on whatever internet he can grab around town in Ethiopia, our gofundme where we'll be post daily updates, and subscribe to our newsletter via the website for written updates as well. See y’all in Ethiopia soon!