An Open Letter, National Coffee Day 2015

people are my rabbit hole


An open letter:

Today is National Coffee Day. While its a day that some acknowledge in this culture, it’s also a day that some could care less about. As for me, I care and here’s why.
Four years ago, when I officially took on the cultural responsibility of being a voice for coffee; I knew that what I was doing was revolutionary. I was one person and how could I ever honor something so much bigger than myself, when the voices were predominately unlike mine, and far from my  point of view.   I didn’t know exactly how to do it, but I had ideas and I owed it to myself to feel my way to filleting the void, to find my voice in it and in relation, a voice for the world.  The funny thing about a voice, you’re always on a journey of getting it right so you just have to get used to also getting it wrong.
A lot of people have opened their doors to me, too many to name – and I say THANK YOU. Despite all the glorious stories that this rabbit hole can invite, I’m well aware that my work is not for everyone and ha! – that’s more than okay. It’s built for those in the economy of connection, the place where stories live; it’s being built against traditional views of coffee; models of revenue and tropes for social platforms – all which make this endeavor one of the hardest I’ve ever committed to.
There’s another time and place for the stories of the failures which are always wins;  the discrimination – that’s real – the lack of transparent opportunities at times, how big the vision is and finding the market to support it, being a she in an industry still dominated by men and their voice, an industry that has a lot of work to do on becoming more communal than a reactive tweet, a zeitgeist hashtag, or  sharing top shots of coffee spreads. Truth. Four years ago, I went to my first coffee competition with my great friend Reggie Black, we looked around and he said “we’re the only two in the room, and ones a woman and you’re here.”  I’m still here.
“Lots of people run paths, very few have the guts to find a new one.” Seth Godin
Some people get jaded in coffee; I’m not – I’m inspired. When I’m often asked what is it about coffee that got me in – my rabbit hole moment – or why do I love it so much, my answer always is – the people. Their photos and stories are the things that I carry – the reminder that coffee is bigger than the thing itself – that’s my rabbit hole.
While I wasn’t brought up to focus on race, I’m aware of the role that it plays in a culture – this culture.  I’ve experienced disdain, ostracism being an ‘other’, false community, I’ve been un-welcomed, and I’ve been ignored.  Yet, I don’t need someone else or a platform to see me – to know that I am here and to validate my experiences. While being of a mixed heritage, as many of us might be, what we all share is the story of being human – that’s the story I aim to celebrate today – on National Coffee Day, which is every day for The Coffeetographer.
To the people I’m supposed to meet on this journey, to the stories that I’m suppose to tell and to the culture that is to be represented by this platform, I don’t live among walls. This “ain’t gon’ always be polite… but, we culture.” Kanye West