The Tremendous Loss of a Neighborhood Staple

by Tawana Honeycomb Petty

Capitalism is an unrelenting virus barreling through community after community, leaving destruction in its aftermath.

The tragic loss of a neighborhood staple for Black children in Detroit is no exception. 9226 Kercheval has been the home to Baba Camara El, his family and activist poetry collective Black Tie Collective for the past five years. Under Baba Camara's guidance, the venue ran as the Conscious Corner Cafe - providing low cost and sometimes free food to the community, a tutoring space for young people, an African Dance studio and a recording studio for up and coming artists. It also served as a safe space for children to come and simply be children. There was a regular poetry night called Rhyme-N-Reason and the Detroit Poetry Society hosted regular writing workshops in the space. The venue was not only home to many in Detroit, but people from across the globe regularly visited to hear members of Black Tie Collective recite poetry, and to break bread together.

It is unfortunate that so many of our valuable community assets are left to the mercy of landlords who often fail to see the value in what we bring. Such is the case with Conscious Corner Cafe.

Even before all the amazing contributions attributed to the Black Tie Collective, the historic structure had an important legacy of service to Black children and families. Featured in the 1971 book "9226 Kercheval: The Storefront That Did Not Burn," the Moms and Tots childcare and resource center has proven to be a sacred establishment.

So much so, that it was spared during the 1967 rebellion in Detroit, when nearly everything around it was burning to the ground. Neighbors recognized the value that 9226 Kercheval and those serving from it, brought to the community in 1967. Because of the continued commitment of Black Tie Collective, many feel that same connection to the space today.

We know that Baba Camara and Black Tie Collective will continue their work no matter where they end up. It is just unfortunate that Black Lives are too often expendable commodities, easily displaced by the highest bidder.

We can only hope that the legacy of 9226 Kercheval will not be vain.

Keep up with Black Tie Collective and encourage their work by liking their Rhyme-N-Reason page on Facebook.

Posted on September 8, 2015 .