Equal Minded Café engages community and promotes social justice

Ciara Pate

Equal Minded Café is working to serve more than just coffee and pastries; they are trying to build a community and form conversations.

Dontavious Young, a third-year transfer student at UMKC, owns and operates the small coffee shop off Troost Avenue and 43rd Street. The building was originally owned by his grandmother, who had renovated the space to keep a Black-owned daycare operating in the community. 

“Getting involved in the community was our biggest goal,” Young said.

The coffee shop is different from the stereotypes the term café suggests. It is designed for a greater level of interpersonal interaction, and provides a location both to study and to speak with new people. 

In the shop, the walls contain art from local artists, especially from people of color, to help promote their work. 

Young and the family he has built within the coffee shop acknowledge the evident line that divides the city, also known as the Troost Border, and are working to eliminate the stigma of the area being a bad neighborhood. 

They have done much to shine a positive light on the community, including getting to know the people around the area and hosting events to bring people together.

“We have a very affordable event space in the back [of the coffee shop], which brings a lot of opportunity for people to have gatherings like baby showers and family reunions,” Young said. “Those types of gatherings and seeing people in positive situations is really important for people in the ‘hood.’”

Young is also working to make sure the community knows where the coffee shop stands when it comes to social justice issues, displaying ten-foot-tall signs and artwork in the windows of the shop promoting the Black Lives Matter movement. 

These signs are not just meant to support the movement, but also to show that the shop is a Black-owned business and hopefully deter potential vandalism or property damage. 

“I work a lot, so I wasn’t able to get to the protests, Young said. “So that was kind of my way of protesting.”

Young says he does not care if someone comes in with differing opinions and thoughts, especially about the Black Lives Matter movement, as long as they are willing to listen and have a conversation. 

With its drive to promote conversation and a welcoming environment, Equal Minded Café is a place for anyone, including students, business professionals and anyone looking for fresh food and coffee. 

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