Guest Blog Post Written by Shannon Ozene, owner of The Black Element
Black History is something that should be celebrated everyday - more than the twenty eight days designated in February. Our ancestors, our trailblazers, our church and community leaders deserve so much more than one month. However, we can use the month of February as a catalyst to gain more knowledge of our culture, our love for self and the legacy left by those before us. Although in public school we are taught mostly about Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglas, let’s take time to learn about figures we are not taught about in school. Such figures as Marcus Garvey, Fred Hampton, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael). Let’s take this time to learn about events like Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK (1920s) and how it was burned down, the Opelousas Massacre (Louisiana) and the Thibodaux Massacre (Louisiana). Explore the spiritual practices of those that came hundreds of years before you- there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel a strong tie to your lineage.
I think about all of the courageous women that have inspired me throughout my life. Women like Angela Davis, Kathleen Cleaver, my Auntie Joyce Ozene who was the first Black Homecoming Queen of USL (now known as ULL), and my mother who refused to sit in the “colored only” section of a restaurant in Erath, LA during Jim Crow. We have history running through our veins! We have this history walking among us everyday - like the first group of black students to integrate UL (at the time the school was known as SLI) in 1954. I recently learned that my cousin Quentin Briscoe is the first Black licensed Chiropractor in Lafayette, LA (he made history and he’s only in his 40s). We can take time to learn about the legendary Raphael Baranco whom we just lost last year. A school was just named after him because of his work and dedication to education in the area. Mr. Purvis Morrison who was the first Black mayor in Lafayette Parish and his wife Mary Morrison who was the first Black elected female on the Lafayette Parish School Board. On March 1, continue your quest for knowledge - DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF TO FEBRUARY,ONLY. Share the info you learn with family and friends, you will be surprised how many people are thirsty for this knowledge.
Let’s not forget something very important which is supporting black owned businesses. It is imperative to our community that we support each other’s endeavors especially when they are genuine. As a suggestion, take the next 30 days and patronize at least one black owned business per week if you are able to. If you are in the Lafayette, LA area, you can download the app “shopblacklisted” for a directory of black owned businesses. Keeping the dollar flowing in our community creates jobs and is also a gateway for more black owned businesses in the community. The more money we spend, the more goods and services are provided. Remember that the Asian community dollar circulates one month before leaving it’s community. The Jewish dollar circulates 20-28 days before leaving it’s community and unfortunately the black dollar doesn’t even circulate an entire day before leaving it’s community. How astonishing is that statistic? It feels great to walk in a place of business and have most of the workers know you by name because you grew up with them or because you know their family. That is the welcome feeling you have when you shop and patronize local, black owned businesses. Here are a few places in Lafayette, Louisiana I frequent and visited for the first time this month.
Each day this month, I will patronize or highlight a local back owned business. Of course the first post would be a place that I patronize frequently and they know me by name - Black Cafe! If you know me, then you know I love this place. This is a coffee shop on the corner of Pierce Street and Voorhies (in Fightinville), they serve hot/frozen/iced coffee, hot/chilled tea, salads, beignets, burgers and more (there are some vegan options also). Not to mention, the service is great!
Each day this month, I will patronize or highlight a local back owned business. Of course the first post would be a place that I patronize frequently and they know me by name - Black Café! If you know me, then you know I love this place. This is a coffee shop on the corner of Pierce Street and Voorhies (in Fightinville), they serve hot/frozen/iced coffee, hot/chilled tea, salads, beignets, burgers and more (there are some vegan options also). Not to mention, the service is great!
I figured I'd start with my favorite places and what other place better than One Love! I've been shopping there for years now and they never disappoint. They have African attire(for men and women), dashikis, jewelry, kente cloth ties and bow ties, lots of Bob Marley gear, black soap, body oils, scented oils for your home, black seed oil and more. They are located right across from RaceTrac on the Thruway next to Enterprise rent a car. I've included pictures of 2 dresses I have purchased there for special occasions along with other photos of the shop and the owners.
Today I stepped out of my norm and got me a daiquiri from Shake Daiquiris-n More on the corner of Moss St and E Alexander. Always good service and they don't only serve daiquiris, they have food also (see the menu below in the pics). They have a drive thru too.
Today I visited Optimum Printing and Graphics LLC at 109 Sunbeam Ln in Lafayette, LA off of Cameron St. I was very impressed with their customer service and I cannot wait until my t-shirts are printed! Stay tuned. This will be my first time using them for my printing needs and I'm anxious to see the finished product which is Black History themed.
Did you know that we have a young man who owns and operates a bakery known as O Baked It? Located at the corner of W. Willow and St. Antoine. He has the best homemade baked goods like cookies, pecan candy, brownies, lemonade and more.
This is one of my top 3 places in Lafayette, LA - Benoit Gallery Indigenous Art. The atmosphere is always great and, the owners are always welcoming. This has been a safe space for me as I take this path of "Sol Development". Lectures are held at the gallery frequently. Before I had my own storefront, these doors were always open to me to host pop up shops, my birthday gatherings and much more. There are no set business hours but they are open during Art Walk in downtown Lafayette, LA which is the 2nd Saturday of each month. You can message them on FB or call to schedule an appointment! The art there embodies our deep black culture here in southwest Louisiana and the pieces are all just breathtaking.
Another one of my favorite places to shop is Bonnie's Shoetique in the Northgate Mall. Ladies, she has some of the most stylish shoes at very affordable prices. She has sandals, boots, high heels, wedge heels, square heels, sunglasses, clutches and more. I'm always greeted with a smile and a warm welcome. She has regular price items but also has a special section for shoes that are on sale.
Today's spotlight is my own business, my pride and joy, The Black Element located at 317 Madeline Ave in Lafayette, LA. We carry sage, incense, Palo Santo sticks, jewelry, purses from Cameroon Africa, sandals from Ghana Africa, black art, tea blends, hibiscus, moringa powder, crystals, crystal jewelry, yoni steams, The Black Element Apparel and more. Open 3p-6p Thurs - Sun. and available by appt outside of business hours.
Today's spotlight is my own business, my pride and joy, The Black Element located at 317 Madeline Ave in Lafayette, LA. We carry sage, incense, palo santo sticks, jewelry, purses from Cameroon Africa, sandals from Ghana Africa, black art, tea blends, hibiscus, moringa powder, crystals, crystal jewelry, yoni steams, The Black Element Apparel and more. Open 3p-6p Thurs - Sun. and available by appt outside of business hours.
Did you know that the Huddle House at 1640 St Mary St in Scott, LA is black owned. This is one of my favorite places to have breakfast. The service is always excellent and Mr Marshall always greets customers with the warmest welcome. Not to mention, the grits are on point. That is very important to me. Lol.
The Medicine Bin located at 1105 W. Willow in Lafayette has all of your pharmacy needs. I'm always greeted with a smile and I always stay longer than expected because they treat me like family. They also carry over the counter vitamins, a few essential oils and angel pads for the ladies. This is located in a prime location and can now serve as your neighborhood pharmacy with the closing of Walmart on Evangeline Thruway. They will make the transition smooth.
This is something that brings all local, black owned business together - ShopBlacklisted.net If you haven't already done it, please download the shopblacklisted.net app for iPhone or android. Eight local women of color (including myself), from different backgrounds and careers, came together and worked diligently to bring you this local directory of black owned businesses in our area. Part of our vision was to take the negative term "black listed", and turn it into something positive. If you have a local black owned business, the basic listing for the directory is free but if you should choose to upgrade - we have packages available for purchase. Please contact us with any questions.
I made my way to Truman's Grocery Store today at 300 Thornton St. in Lafayette. We always hear the bad things on the news about the Truman neighborhood, but they have some beautiful people there, also. The grocery store is a smaller store in relation to other grocery stores in the city, but it has been black owned for 35 years. They have actual "groceries", unlike many of the corner stores in our community that only sell cigarettes, liquor etc. They have delicious hot food and plate lunches. I used to live right around the corner from the store, so I had to step inside the Barbershop next door, to tell my old friends hello and just as expected, I knew just about everyone inside and they all knew my name. That definitely warmed my little heart. A strange thing happened while I was visiting. The photo I took of the front of the store was not showing up in my camera roll, so I began googling a picture of the business. To my surprise, what did I come across? The store is for sale and $300,000 is the asking price. The elders have made a way for us, are we going to carry the torch? The last couple of black owned stores in Lafayette are owned by elders, who still work there. They want to retire and enjoy life. I can't blame them. Just because the store is listed for sale, does not mean, the store is about to close. It would be wrong for me to assume such a thing.
I'm addicted to this place. Check out Quintessential Touch LLC for your massage needs. I've been using their services for a few years now and I always leave, feeling super relaxed. This is normally my self care time when I need to decompress. Located in the Oil Ctr.
Guidroz Food Store is a black owned Grocery Store/Meat Market that also serves plate lunches, boudin and more. Located on Simcoe Street, it has been a staple in the community for years. Support the brothers that now own this place.
Today I visited Boujee Body Kontour to have a thirty minute sauna detox and I left very impressed. These ladies have created a relaxing environment. They offer noninvasive treatments such as skin tightening, sauna detox, chin lift, butt lift, vaginal steam, lipo captivation and more. My detox was very relaxing and as I felt my body detoxifying - I meditated (MIND + BODY + SPIRIT). As the toxins were released, I asked that my MIND be detoxified of any negative thoughts + that my BODY would physically rid itself of internal toxins + that my SPIRIT would rid any negative blocks that hinder my journey.
REMEMBER, EVERYDAY IS BLACK HISTORY! And don't forget to patronize these shops if your are living in or visiting the area.