The Mix Pop Up Coffee Shop opened yesterday in Port Morris as a 3 day social experiment to engage the community and talk about race and identity — over a cup of coffee.
Immediately when you walk into the cafe you are asked, ” WHAT ARE YOU?” by big stenciled letters along the walls. This is one of the most common questions asked to people of color, especially folks who’s ethnic identity isn’t ‘readily apparent’.
Just as controversial as the stenciled lettered question is the menu with coffees by the names of The Mulatto, The Red Bone, The Mutt, The Half-Breed, and a delicious hot chocolate called The One Drop. All names and terminologies that have been used throughout the centuries in a derogatory manner or by means to discriminate.
When you approach the counter, you stand atop three stenciled options: Pure Breed, Half-Breed, or Other. The barista takes your order and instead of asking your name like at Starbucks, she asks, “What are you?” and you provide one of the aforementioned options.
The concept of the pop up cafe was created by Vernicia Colon who currently is a student at Parsons School for design and is the first of many events for The Shoppe BX, a new artist space founded by Jamie Jones and Edith Harper.
Jones and Harper envision The Shoppe BX as a place where local artists can not only showcase their creations but sell them as well. They also intend to utilize the space to teach various classes taught by local artists.
I stayed there for a couple of hours both joining the conversations that were brewing as well as just simply observing.
During my stay at the cafe, I watched folks from all walks of life, young and old, black, white, latino, asian, and everyone in between, all engrossed in this truly interactive project.
Make sure you stop by for some stimulating conversation over a great cup of coffee or hot chocolate but don’t wait too long. The Mix Up Coffee Shop will only be open until Sunday, April 27th.
We hope that Vernicia can open up the shop permanently down the road!
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