Why Bubblin Brown Sugar is so important to our community.
I will be honest with you, I have not been to Bubblin Brown Sugar in years. Despite both my brothers being on the organizing committee, I am usually traveling out of town this time of year and honestly cannot recall the last time I was present.
However, after attending this year's edition of the iconic dance contest on Saturday, there is one thing for sure I now realize:
Bubblin Brown Sugar is important to Black culture, identity, and sense of being, especially for those from the Central District, Beacon Hill, and the South End, who over the years have been displaced by the systemic gentrification.
These days, some might say Bubblin Brown Sugar is just as much a family reunion as it is a dance contest. With old friends and neighbors catching up with each other on the last twelve months that passed since they saw each other at the previous Bubblin Brown Sugar.
Also what I realized at Bubblin Brown Sugar is that there are literally thousands of Black people like myself who have not and will not give up or concede defeat on the war against the gentrification of our community.
Even those who at one time walked to the Garfield Campus and these days drove nearly an hour to get there, are not ready to write the Central District off. Sure we may have lost some early battles but best believe, we, the people, and our traditions, like Bubblin Brown Sugar, are not giving up anytime soon.
If anything we now see a small but ever growing reversal to the displacement that has been prevalent in the Central District.
The opening of the Liberty Bank Building last month brought 115 affordable housing units to 24th and Union. 87% of the residents are African American and the majority of them are people who once lived in the Central District and were displaced. welcome back home fam!
Additionally, we see the rise of more Black owned businesses opening in the Central District, from The Postman and Cheese Platters and More on Martin Luther King and Union to the much anticipated opening of That Brown Girl Cooks! and Cafe Avole inside the Liberty Bank Building later this year.
In the next 24 months, Africatown Plaza will rise on 23rd and Union (Midtown) and offer 138 units of affordable housing and tens of thousands of square feet of commercial space for more Black business that want to move to or return to the Central District to grow and thrive.
We cannot forget about those who have never left the Central District, property owners and business owners alike, including Earl’s, and perhaps most famously, Ezell’s Famous Chicken, who celebrated a special anniversary during Bubblin Brown Sugar on Saturday, you see it was exactly 35 years ago, during Bubblin Brown Sugar in 1984, that a small group of friends and family that all relocated to Seattle from a tiny town in Texas took a leap of faith and opened, Ezell’s Famous Chicken, on 23rd and Jefferson. According to Ezell's CEO, Lewis Rudd, who was in attendance on Saturday, that year (1984) the gym was packed, the energy was electric, and they just about sold out of every piece of chicken they had in the restaurant that day and from that moment they had a feeling that somehow they were onto something special.
Bubblin Brown Sugar is so much more than just a dance contest, it is a yearly validation of our culture, and annual watering of our soul and a reaffirmation of our melanin, which is important these days especially in Seattle where our community has been so spread out.
Did I mention that all of the profits from Bubblin Brown Sugar go to 100 Black Parents, a non-profit based in the Central District that is focused on engaging school aged Black children to ensure they are staying on track in school through mentorship and interactive opportunities.
Bubblin Brown Sugar is a homecoming of young and old where we are reminded of and revere the Central District of the past but are also inspired and determined to not only be included but also to develop the Central District of the future.
Bubblin Brown Sugar reaffirms that we belong.
That is why Bubblin Brown Sugar is important. - The Big O
Omari@AfricatownMedia.com / @Omarisal