Our team had a ton of fun celebrating Black History Month, finding diverse avenues to explore the impact of Black life in our communities on a local and global scale. From inspired happy hours and curated playlists honoring historic contributions to music, to sparking important conversations about racial inequity and history’s heroes, we’ve compiled a quick little retrospective on how Common Desk has been celebrating Black culture—because the work continues after February ends.
We were lucky enough to hear presentations throughout the month from some of our teammates, highlighting topics that they’re passionate about. Each Wednesday we gather for our regular All Staff Call, during which staffers Jayson, Camille, and Gaby shared their wisdom and research. Camille (Community Coordinator at Anderson Lane) started us off with an incredible reference sheet for our company, filled with ideas for how to bring Black History Month into our spaces to create awareness and conversation. Jayson (Community Coordinator at East End Houston) crafted a compelling powerpoint explaining the inequitable returns that the Black community gets from their hard work, and ways that we can all support their talent and skill. Gaby (Community Coordinator at Granite Park) taught us about healthcare disparities that Black people suffer—from limited access to preventive care, to the repercussions it has on mental health and late-diagnosed disease. It’s truly an honor to have such thoughtful and inspiring leaders on our team, and we’re so grateful for their voices!
Courtney, our Launch Manager, is well known among staff as an avid reader (logging as many as 50+ books a year!). She compiled a list of some of her favorite Black literature, and we can’t wait to keep making our way through the titles. We’ve dropped her top four picks in this handy graphic for your perusal.
Our “Musical Deskies” interest channel in Slack was an avenue for staffers to share what they were listening to in our Common Desk locations, honoring the foundational contributions that Black artists have made to the music we know and love today. Just one of many: this Motown Classics playlist on Spotify. (Jenna, Content Marketing Manager, also highly recommends the 1619 podcast—particularly Episode 3, “The Birth of American Music.”)
If you’ve been to Common Desk, you know we love a good drink at the end of a productive workday. Camille (Community Coordinator at Anderson Lane) shared a few boozy resources, including Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 Best Black-Owned Alcohol Brands. We’re particularly excited to add the Bizzy Izzy Highball to our repertoire—originally crafted by Tom Bullock, the first Black bartender to publish a cocktail recipe book, in 1917. (Whiskey & history in one glass? Count us in.)
One organization that our staffers highlighted is the Inside Books Project, an Austin-founded community service organization that ensures Black prison inmates have access to literature and educational materials. We love a Texas-based volunteer project!
One of our favorite ways that we got our Common Desk community involved with Black History Month was our story collection effort. Locations gave members and staffers the opportunity to share their experiences, stories, and favorite ways of celebrating Black history. We received a lot of rich and enlightening feedback, and here are just a few of them:
Common Desk couldn’t run without coffee, and coffee wouldn’t exist without the Black community. The history of coffee may seem like a niche interest at first but, for many, it’s the gas pedal for our mornings, so we were delighted to learn more from Zach (Barista at Fiction – CGB). The coffee bean goes as far back as the 9th century, discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia who noticed his goats got an energy boost from eating coffee berries on a shrub. From there, it spread to the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas—but always pioneered and quality-perfected by Black people. Just as one piece of evidence, there are 5 main countries that great coffee stems from, highly respected by coffee connoisseurs around the world: Ethiopia, Haiti, Brazil, Kenya, and Rwanda. Though history has tried multiple times to take the dignity and power in coffee away from its Black foundations, Africans and Blacks have remained victorious as the supreme crafters and farmers of the heralded cup of joe. Check out this article, “Coffee History is Black History,” for the full story and more details about the impact coffee has had on Black countries.
Within our coffee brand, Fiction, we strive to honor the coffee bean and the people who harvest it. That’s why we proudly partner with Counter Culture Coffee, sharing their vision for using the coffee craft as a force for good through sustainability, education, strong ethics, and transparency. From the single-family farms and co-ops in far-off countries all the way to your go-to favorite mug, we hope you’ll join us in honoring coffee and the Black lives who continue to shape it.