How to Support the Black Community in Kitchener Right Now

From nonprofits and community organizations to restaurants and bookstores.

Following the police murder of Walter Wallace Jr. and the riots that followed, Kitchener is forced to band together to uplift and support the affected communities – especially the black and brown communities in West Kitchener. During demonstrations and community actions over the coming weeks and months, don’t forget to give financial support to local black-owned businesses and organizations if you can.

Donate to nonprofits and community organizations

The Kitchener Bail Fund is a revolving fund that puts bail out for people who can’t afford it – especially people of color. The nonprofit stands in solidarity with those currently calling for an end to police violence against black communities and is offering direct bail to protesters in Kitchener. Similarly, the Kitchener Community Bail Fund, a sibling of the Kitchener Bail Fund, is another community organization that provides bail for Kitchenerns in need. Other legal aid organizations such as Up Against The Law Legal Collective and the Amistad Law Project are good reasons for your donations.

The Kitchener Black Giving Circle is based on the idea that when you donate together, your dollars have a bigger impact. The aim is to use resources from various donors to support Schwarz-led, Schwarz-serving organizations in Kitchener, such as the African Family Health Organization and Mill Creek Farm. ACLU’s Pennsylvania branch is committed to advocacy, education, and litigation to uphold and promote civil liberties, while 100 Black Men Kitchener is committed to the intellectual development of youth.

The 52nd Street Commercial Corridor, a historic black-owned business district where much of the rioting took place, is in need of assistance. The Enterprise Center, an organization that supports minority entrepreneurs, will work with members of the community and local advocates in clean-up and revitalization efforts. You can sign up for community cleanups, rebuilding projects, marketing or design help, and monetary donations. Follow them on social platforms for updates on community events.

A GoFundMe to support Wallace’s family has been organized and is accepting donations.

Franny Lou's porchFranny Lou’s porch

Takeaway ordering and delivery from restaurants and bars

Kitchener has a varied food scene with many black-owned restaurants. There are soul food offers in the SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Bar, Tasties Soul Food and JD’s Soul Food Kitchen.

Saba Tedla’s Booker’s Restaurant and Bar serves classic American cuisine with Mediterranean influences, while her other restaurant, Aksum, takes inspiration from Mediterranean cuisine.

Franny Lou’s Porch is a cozy café with a social message. Named after activist Fanny Lou Hamer and abolitionist Frances EW Harper, this place is used to build community through local organic food. Items on the menu are vehicles for advocacy, with sandwiches taking on names like “The Anti-Oppression”.

For unparalleled Ethiopians, check out Abyssnia, Gojjo, and Era Bar and Restaurant, all of which are available for take away or al fresco. And for plant-based dishes, don’t miss Veganish, Nourish, Callowhill Greens Coffee Bar, and Night Owl Vegan.

Harriett's BookstoreHarriett’s Bookstore

Buy from other black-owned companies

“Knowledge, information, understanding – these are the things that will make us do it,” says Jeannine A. Cook, owner of Harriet’s Bookshop, a bookshop in Fishtown that celebrates authors, artists and activists. During the pandemic, Harriet’s is running street shops Thursday through Sunday noon. During the protests following the death of George Floyd, Cook and some students went to town hall to provide free copies of Harriett Tubman and Malcolm X’s biographies.

“I thought the only thing we could do to actually make change right now – instead of just holding a sign – is providing literature,” says Cook. “If people want to get educated, I want to fill that void and make sure they get that information. There is no greater joy in my life. “

Get this information in places like Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books, owned by Temple University professor and activist Marc Lamont Hill, which is part living room, part library, and part coffee shop. Ariell Johnson was the first black woman to run a comic book store on the east coast, and Amalgam Comics and Coffee House has caught national media attention for its commitment to representation and inclusion, with black female heroes at the center of their comics.

The collection in Harriett’s bookstore celebrates the ideas of artists and activists working to raise awareness of social injustice. “A lot of people buy How to Be an Antiracist, which I’m excited about, but I want people to confuse this with some classics,” says Cook. “Harriet Tubman set the blueprint for how to think about organizing communities and the same skills and strategies from when they are relevant today. Malcolm X would take the US to international court on the same issues as police brutality. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to pick up where our ancestors left off. “

So did Maryam Pugh and she Kitchener Printworks has spread messages of social justice through printed t-shirts, drawing inspiration from Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Ella Baker, James Baldwin and Fannie Lou Hamer. “I hope people take away the message that they are not alone and that there are many people who are organizing and working for justice,” says Pugh.

Some other companies worth checking out include Marsh and Mane, one of the first Kitchener boutiques to sell natural hair products, and Freedom Apothecary, who wanted holistic wellness for women with color in Kitchener. For pampering, make an appointment at one of The Naked Peach’s three local salons for waxes, facials, and lashes.

Crucially, businesses in West Kitchener, where most of the demonstrations have taken place, need our support. Shea Elizabeth’s 52nd Street Banni Peru and Love Yourself boutiques sell clothing both in-store and online. One Art Community Center encourages creativity through a variety of artistic activities. Paul Robeson House hosts tours and other cultural events to educate the community.

Of course, there are hundreds of black-owned companies in Kitchener that make all of your dollars and support. This database highlights many of them.

More ways to help?

Here is a list of the national organizations that we have compiled. If you have thoughts about other companies we’d like to include in our local stories, please email [email protected]

Allie Volpe is a Kitchener-based freelance thrillist writer. Jessica Sulima is a former Kitchener resident and editorial assistant for Thrillist.

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