Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories

Darnesha Weary

December 01, 2020 Darnesha Weary Season 1 Episode 2
Take Notice: Amplifying Black Stories
Darnesha Weary
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Allison interviews Darnesha Weary: Operations Director and Owner of Black Coffee Northwest in Shoreline, Washington. Darnesha shares her experiences as a Black female business owner, and discusses her dedication to making her coffee shop a place where she can truly support her community.

Support Black Coffee Northwest!

Darnesha suggests supporting the following organizations:

Zuris Donutz
Dee's Designs
She Stands in Strength
Walnut St. Coffee

Take Notice w DarNesha Weary



[00:01 – 05:43]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Welcome to the second episode of take notice amplifying black stories. I am your host Allison Preisinger-Heggins. To begin, I believe it is important to recognize to take notice of the voices that are so often unheard. Land acknowledgement statements are an important part of honoring those whose land we now live and work on. Taking the time to acknowledge this, allows us to continue to learn how to do better. So, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the land on which I am creating this recording today and the recording of the interview for today's episode. I would like to show gratitude to the traditional ancestral land of the Tulalip, the Snohomish, the Stillaguamish, the Sauk-Suiattle, Shoalwater Bay and Chinook tribes; recognizing that these names are not the original names of the people of these areas. As I continue to learn how to better acknowledge native people of these lands, I will adjust the wording of the beginning of each episode. 

I encourage listeners to research the land on which you live and are listening right now. Thank you for joining us for our second episode and thanks to everybody who listened to the very first episode, we released before the election was over with Joy Stanford. I had a great time speaking with Joy, and I hope to connect with her in person one day, when the pandemic is over and we are able to do that. We are excited to be in bringing you episodes on a regular basis now. So, you will now receive a new episode into your favorite podcast app, once a week on Tuesdays. We will bring you three episodes this month in December, and then start back up on the 5th of January. So, if you have yet to subscribe, please do so. Now while this project is focused on amplifying black stories, my hope is that we will get to know each other as each episode is released. 

So, I would like to give you a little bit of a background about how this project began, and then as each episode progresses as they are released, I will just continue that conversation with you all. So, first admittedly, I initially struggled with whether or not it was my place as a white woman to be the host of a podcast trying to amplify black stories, who was I to take on a project like this, how would it come across, after many conversations with those close to me and those interested in the project, all of those questions that I had were released and relieved when I was reminded of the simple fact that we are all human. We all share a painful history in this country with the hopes that more and more of us will do our part to try to shape a better future for all of us. Originally the idea for this project came to mind in January of 2019, out of conversations I would have with my husband on race and culture. 

My eyes since meeting him but even before that have been open to so much by being able to have messy conversations comfortably. I wanted to find a way to give others that same benefit and privilege. And, this project was finally set in motion, this past summer. It was time to take action and this is my form of action among other things. Our mission at take notice is to create conversation, provide an amplified platform for those who want to use it to share their story in the hopes of fostering, understanding, acceptance and growth for anyone who chooses to listen. My hope is that our guests feel comfortable in the environment we create and maybe feel a little bit lighter after our conversations, at least for a moment. Hopefully that feeling extends to our listeners as well. I am really glad to be sharing my conversation with operations director and owner of a new black owned coffee shop in Shoreline Washington called Black Coffee Northwest. 

DarNesha Weary has been involved in the north Seattle community through a variety of youth programs and now through black coffee northwest. As it serves as a home base for those programs as well as for the community. It is a safe place for youth and for the entire community to connect while enjoying coffee. For now they are mostly open through the drive-through due to the pandemic. So, this past weekend they were out and about doing a variety of community services for the holiday weekend, you should definitely follow them on social media to keep up with what they are doing, it is all really beautiful stuff. You can also support them by swinging by their place for a drink or grabbing gift cards for your loved ones for the holidays. I did. I have two that I need to give out, and I almost forgot, they are sitting in my wallet, and I need to put them on my list of hand and out. 

DarNesha and I had a fantastic time while we were talking a few weeks ago, and I am really excited to share this conversation with you all. So, please enjoy my conversation with DarNesha Weary. Take notice would like to take the time to acknowledge black owned businesses, organizations and artists. If you have a suggestion of, who we should highlight during our episodes, please find us on social media or visit our website. Take notice would like to encourage listeners to follow and support the Northwest African-American museum in Seattle Washington. NAAM’s mission is to spread knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent for the enrichment of all. They accomplished their mission by working with others to present and preserve the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent, and to investigate and celebrate black experiences in America through exhibitions, programs and events. 

Follow and support on social media or by visiting naamnw.org. Well, welcome DarNesha to take notice. Thank you so much for joining me. I am really excited to chat with you and I am really excited to be able to… in a very our small way promote black coffee northwest. But, yeah, maybe we can start with a little bit about yourself, maybe where you grew up or your background. 


[05:44 – 10:18]

DarNesha Weary 

Sure. Hi, thank you so much for having me today. So, I grew up, actually in the Seattle area, so I grew up in south Seattle area as a child, and then moved out to north Seattle and middle school and started coming out to the north into Seattle, where there was not a lot of people that look like me out here. So, it was a huge culture shock for me to come from a space where, you know, everyone looked like me and then to a space where I was the only one in every space and so that really is a part of my childhood story is how I was able to navigate through that. But, I born and raised Seattle, I do love this area. I promised I was going to leave for college but I ended up staying. Then after college, I was still like, I am leaving but nope I ended up getting married and have kids and so… I think we are going to be here. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I hear, yeah. I grew up a little North of Seattle and I keep thinking well, I will go explore somewhere else. Then I did for college but then here I am. I am back so… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Kind of your roots in there… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So what did your parents do when you are grown up? 


DarNesha Weary 

My parents were actually ministers in church and so, I grew up heavily as like a church kid, which meant, I would say in my community, it really meant that I was in church. I say Sunday through Sunday but pretty much, we were heavily involved, we were like in the children's church. I was leading prayers and worship and bible studies and so we really were church kids, all of my friends were my other pastor's kids and that was my friend group, so that is how I grew up. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Awesome! Oh, that is cool. Do you have siblings too that grew up in the church with you? 


DarNesha Weary 

I do. I have a sister, who is three years younger than me and then I have a half-brother who is in California right now and then I am a stepsister, who is in South Seattle, so yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, awesome! I have had friends and my husband grew up in South Seattle, and then we lived in Shoreline before COVID hit and he had similar reflections on how it feels to be living in North Seattle. Do you feel like it is the same now as it was when you were younger or has it changed, improved? 


DarNesha Weary 

I would say that the land, I mean, I can look around I can see more people, more like black and brown people out in this area, which is really great, it was not a really… it was a tough experience for me living out here as a black youth, it was really… I would sometimes describe it as traumatic for me, now that I reflect back and this is before people have the language or even wanted to actually talk about these things and so, it was really tough for me growing up. I cannot say that it is gotten better. I feel like people are just now open to conversation and also people are open to the idea that the way they grow up is different from someone else's. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Absolutely! 


DarNesha Weary 

Great, yeah! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That makes sense. Yeah. It is interesting when you can put names or like terms to what you went through in the past, you know. It kind of can help you sort things out and things, so that is interesting. I was talking about that with a friend the other day, it is like oh, there is a word for that. 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. We have words for those things and it is really helpful. I mean it really is to even to have the language because it acknowledges it, and then we are able to start healing it, right? And moving forward… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely! Where did you go to college? Did you go in Seattle, is that what you said? 


DarNesha Weary 

I did. I actually went to Puget Sound Christian College in Seattle, and then I finished at Capella. So, online, I took it took a long time for me to finish school because in the middle of that I ended up getting married, I have a baby but online school was like the best thing for me. So, I finished at Capella, got my master's there as well. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, that is great! 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

What would you get your master's in? 


DarNesha Weary 

In family counseling! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, okay. Were you doing some of that work before you decided to open up the business or…? 


DarNesha Weary 

I was in the nonprofit sector for all of my career, actually I started the nonprofit sector and really used those skills of like counseling and some mental health background and really my whole goal in life was always just to help people, just to help them to reach their goals or to come out of whatever they were in, you know, just if it was addiction or a mental illness, like how can I help and that is really how I have shaped my work. It was just hard trying to fit that into other people's systems and ideas of what that looks like and so, even in my nonprofit career, I had a hard time, kind of acclimating to the way they wanted to do it because I was like, I want to do this differently. 


[10:19 – 15:09]

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. It just, I know very little about your business so far, just from what I have seen through social media and on your website but it seems like that definitely comes through in your all approach to the business and just what is reflecting in the online world of it. So that is pretty wonderful and important. 


DarNesha Weary 

It is very important to us. Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Can you tell me a little bit about what kind of sparked black coffee northwest? 


DarNesha Weary 

Absolutely! So, I will say that I started doing community work; I have been doing it for 20 years and I did not have a name for it; all I wanted to do was help people and so, 20 years ago, I walked into the north Seattle boys and girls club, which is in the greenwood area because I had heard that through gentrification, a lot of black and brown kids were ending up in the north end because usually, you know, they are in the central district of Seattle, which is the area predominantly black that is where my grandparents live, that is where we grew up. But, gentrification came and started pushing families out and so in the north end, there were a lot of black children, black and brown children, and kind of showing up, right? In the neighborhood, there were families moving here and I saw that our community was not ready for that, they did not know how to respond, they did not know what to do. I started seeing the police be called more and more. 

I started seeing kids being, like just kind of outside hanging out and I wanted to create something for kids to do and kids that were black. So what I did is I started a step team and so the step team, we started with like four kids and what stepping is, it is deeply rude in African culture and tradition and it basically is you are making music with your body, using everything, but like actual music. So, you are making beats and rhythms with your hands, with your feet and the whole idea of stepping is communicating and telling a story. So, telling a story of happiness, talking about what is going on in your community, if it is turmoil and so, we put chance to that, which I could equate to maybe like a rap song or music that is talking about, you know, the youth's voice and what is going on and so, I just started it. Now this is me, I am like just coming inside, like hey, you know, I want to start this group, they did not know what it was, everyone is kind of looking at me, but they let me do it. 

And so, I started with about five kids, and we marched in the greenwood parade, I will never forget that day, that was our first performance, we just had like t-shirts, and it was pretty bad t-shirt like shirts, I was like just go. But that is what sparked my passion for serving the community is that when you see a need or when you see things that need to happen, I just need to do it, I need to figure out a way to serve and so, since then I have been… I started that in 2000 and since then that program has grown, we were flown down to California two years ago to do a video with the artist Lizzo. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, wow! 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah and sisterhood and I was able to bring 20 young black girls with me, which was we were flown down, we stayed in a nice, you know, we had the limo, we were living fancy. But, for like a 10 year old girls who would never have the opportunity, I wanted to make sure they had that, and so that is really what sparked and what keeps me going is that I want to build things in a non-nutritional way. I want to provide spaces and that just respond to the need. So what is happening right now, not planning for… and we are also planning for what is happening in the future but we also want to plan for right, what is happening right now in this moment and so, I have been doing this work. So, I brought my husband along, you know, he is working at Microsoft at the time, was not interested in any of this at all. 

But, I was like I need help because I just started growing and growing and growing and so we started a drum line, like a southern style drum line that went along with the steppers and start pulling in more and more kids, start traveling, took kids to Disneyland every single year for at least… for about 15 years and we fundraised for that, we sold everything, lost every car because I did not want any kids to ever be turned away from being having the opportunity to go to Disneyland and so, we took kids to Vegas for a competition that was an adventure… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That was my best. 


DarNesha Weary 

But I never had a place to do it. I never had a place to call home. It was always just wherever we were or in my garage. So, I took over my husband's workspace in the garage and it is full of like Easter eggs and all kind of whatever art supplies and things to do programming with, because that is just what I have done. Even with my full-time job, every single Friday night, I was doing an outreach event in this area for black and brown teens because there was nothing else for them. 

[15:10 – 20:13]

DarNesha Weary 

So, we did basketball tournaments, we have done dance contests, I mean whatever, tutoring, we did doctor for a day with doctors from UW, which is awesome. So, I just learned like collaborating with other organizations and state keeping my ear to the ground what is happening is what works and so, black coffee is just an opportunity to take that work and call it home to take the work that we have already been doing in the community and just have a space to do it at and so, I am so excited for that. I mean even after we had like a soft opening I was telling the kids, I am like, is we going to pack up my car because we are so used to like packing up my car at the ends, right? And then after everything back home but we are like oh, no, like it actually gets to stay here and that was the best moment of the day is that we have a place now that we can do this work and be intentional, not have to ask and ask for permission from someone else or have 12 meetings about it. We can just do it. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

I am so excited about that part. Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Just being able to turn off the lights, go home and come back, that is going to save a lot of energy I bet. 


DarNesha Weary 

It is. It is going to save a lot of energy and it is also showing and 90 percent of the operations that we are doing, now we have kids, we have youth as young as 11, running them. So, our social Medias are in values, our barista team, like our marketing promotions, and we paired them up with an adult professional in that field for mentoring. But even that, I was like I have to make sure that what we are doing is sustainable and that we are training the next generation to do this. I did not understand entrepreneurship and owning my own. I am now into my 40s, no, but we have kids now, who are presidents and vice presidents of our company, who are in their teams and they are black and brown in that space, where there is not a lot of black and brown faces, even in that space at the corporate level and so, they are able to walk into a chamber of commerce meeting, as a 17 year old and say I am a business owner. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is awesome! 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. It is really great. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Man that is going to change so many lives. That is amazing! I originally heard about black coffee northwest from an article that someone posted on Facebook that you all had arson at your building before you even opened. Can you tell us a little bit about that incident? 


DarNesha Weary 

Sure. So, we were supposed to open on October 1st and so that was our grand opening or we are going to do a soft open on October 1st, and so the evening or the morning of October 1st, about 3 in the morning, we received a notification, a call that our building was on fire and so that is like, it was three in the morning that is not any kind of message, anyone wants to get… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

No. 


DarNesha Weary 

3:00 in the morning. 

Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

But we ended up, you know, going to our location and we saw that the damage was not as bad like the building was not engulfed but, you know, you do not know what you are going to drive up to. All I could think of was like a movie, when they are like that… and like they driving there is like, you know, it is like gulps and blades and so, it was not golf but what was happening was that someone had attempted to set the gas line on fire and so, when we arrived, we saw a bunch of broken glass, our bottles everywhere, and we could not tell that those were Molotov cocktails and we saw a bunch of bricks everywhere because someone had attempted to break the window and throw the Molotov cocktails back in our area that, like in the air, like the control room. I would say that has kind of all of our electronics, you know, things that is then, when they were unsuccessful there, they went around to the other side and actually pushed a whole bunch of cribbage and plants underneath the gas line and doused the gas line with gas, which is weird. 

And then they tried to set it on fire and well, they did set on fire but thank goodness, the gas line did not catch the wall did though, so that whole wall was on fire and so that was a notification that we got, we showed up there. I was just emotionally exhausted at that point because, you know, you are planning for a soft launch, like we are getting ready to go and then here is that and so, we knew it was a hate crime, and so we knew the reason why they were doing this and because we had received some messages before just that black coffee was not welcome in the neighborhood, and that black coffee was racist. And, you know things like that and chose to just ignore those things and so, when this happened it just really brought it to life that racism really, we know that exists as a black community, I know that, I mean I think for our white community this is another example of that racism exists and it is in this neighborhood and it is attacking a new… the very first black coffee shop in this community. So, it was a wakeup call for everyone. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely! That sounds like a really scary night and that is terrible. Yeah. How did you get the notification? Did somebody see it and then called the fire department or how did that work? 


[20:14 – 25:14]

DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. So, someone saw the fire and then called the fire department, we got notified by neighbors actually on Facebook, so like the power of social media right, before even wow the fire department or anyone reached out to us, we got all these notifications on Facebook that our building was on fire and so, we appreciate the community for that though. We really do. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That makes all the difference to have the backing of people that truly care about you and things like that. 


DarNesha Weary 

Absolutely! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So was the damage mostly just that one wall? 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. There were two walls and then, you know, there was glass and things like that. So, it was very minimal damage, I think just the emotional damage and the hurt that went behind that action, like the impact, that impact was much greater. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I imagine. Yeah. Yeah, of course! And that affected the date of your launch, your soft launch, right? 


DarNesha Weary 

It did. So, it set us back about 10 days and honestly a part of that, a couple days of that was just giving our staff time to just take a, you know, concerns of safety and we had talked about safety protocols with our staff and making sure that we had de-escalation techniques in place, we were ready. But, really this was a threat to personal safety and so, we wanted to give ourselves a couple of days to just recoup, we had some, we had great conversations and then we also got a security company to come out and do more work with our cameras and make sure we had different angles because the cameras did not catch everything, right? So, you do not know that until something happens. 

And so, it is really, you know, I laugh now because it was time for us to reset and really look at safety, make sure our staff felt safe and supported, make sure our cameras are touching all the angles and then also to tell the story to the community that this happened, this happened to us because we are black and that the community needs to a respond to this, right? Like say that hate will not live here, and be bold about that and then also help us by keeping an eye on our building and know that we are going to be a target. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. I am glad that I found you guys but I am sad that it was because of that, you know, so it is, yeah. But I definitely will be one to stand up against that and try to help you all feel more safe, even in my little way of getting this word out here, you know, so that is… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I can imagine that it can be so scary for, you know, this employees working there and then for you all, you know, hoping that all is in the past as far as anything else happening in that light, so… Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

We definitely hope so… but we hope so that was in the past and that it would not happen again but the reality is that it might happen again. When the reality is that people, you know, we are a black business or very bold in our stance about being a black business and so, you know, someone may do it again and I guess for us, like the most hurtful part of this is that we have a lot of kids and youth that are working along with us and so to have to sit and talk to these kids who have been there every day, all summer, painting, you know, like this is I enjoy, this is something they are so excited about to have to tell them that someone deliberately tried to someone did attack their space and this is why and that it may happen again, it just made it all real; it really made it real for them and that was a hard conversation for me to have to have because I want to provide you… every time you work with kids; you want them to feel safe. 

And I was unable to provide that for them in that moment. They felt extremely unsafe but as a leader I had to have empathy with that and then also go along with the process with them. I felt unsafe also. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Right! Absolutely, kind of just letting your guard downs with them. I imagine that helped them a lot to be able to be in it with you. Yeah. That is hard I imagine. Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. I imagine you have had to share that a few times since that happened and, you know, I can imagine reliving that. So, it may not be fun so… I appreciate you sharing that with us. 


DarNesha Weary 

No problem. I would say that it is not fun to share and it is hurtful to share but it is a part of the process, right? And nothing that you do, that is going to have an impact and purposeful comes easy, it is going to come with these, you know, these distractions and this noise, they call it outside noise that is going to continue to happen but if we stay true to who we are as a community-based organization, I feel like we are able to overcome and keep going, keep doing the work that we know we are supposed to do. So it, you know, it is hard to tell but it is also a story I like to tell because it is a part of the process and it is a part of the process that nobody likes to talk about with any new business, right? It is not pretty, it is not fun, and it is sometimes real ugly. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


[25:15 – 30:33]

DarNesha Weary 

But for this it is a great story, not a great story to tell, something to highlight and to tell people that this does happen and racism does exist and this is what it looks like. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely, it is very important to hear and to know that it is still going on. So we can face it. I saw some photos of your guys’ soft opening, just this past weekend and it looked like it was just a massive success, did it feel like that?


DarNesha Weary 

You know, it felt like a huge success, it felt like confirmation to us that what we are doing is, right? Because we have never owned our own brick and mortar space, my husband and I have never, we have never hired people, we are learning all of this, and we have such a great community around us that are helping with every aspect, like business taxes, I am like so what help, like I do not want to end up in jail. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I am not kidding. Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

He helped me with this but it is been really great, like people have rallied behind us, so, yeah, I am just excited. I am so excited. Now that was the biggest piece for me is like the community came together to help us. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is so huge. It is wonderful. I am so excited to go visit. I am living north of there now but we used to live in Shoreline, right by, oh now I cannot remember the high school. Well, right by where Kellogg is. Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

Oh Shore Crest. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, yeah, Shore Crest, I get the two mixed up. 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. The kids will correct you, I had to learn that. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is great! You mentioned a story with your son that was involved in the start of all this as well. Would you like to share that? 


DarNesha Weary 

On super bowl Sunday, in 2018 now, the time is flying by. My son, we live out in Edmonds, he had a school project that he needed to complete, and he had a photography project. And, you know, typical, he was a senior in high school, like the project was due at midnight, it is like after the games, like you have to get this done right now, you know, so it was one of those, like go do it and come back. So, my daughter was going to be his model and so they, you know, my daughter got all dressed up, go be her brother's photography model, and so they went to a Greek restaurant where we visit all the time and also at jack in a box, which is in opera and in between the Greek restaurant and the jack-in-the-box was a bar and so, my kids were on the parking… they were on, you know, just in the parking lot, taking photos because they were like it has good lighting and someone inside the bar, so that they recognized him as like a local gang member, and thought that he was coming to rob them and break into their building. 

And so, they started, you know, yelling out the window for my kids to go away, which they did and then this angry mob of grown adult men and women chased my kids off the property, yelling the N-word at them what they backed and so, in the media it was really terrible and they ended up getting arrested, there were federal hate crime charges and when I watched that video of my son being chief stuff like that and I so thankful every day that he is not on a t-shirt, he is not a hash tag that he is alive to tell the story because if they would have got to pull the pin. We do not know what the outcome would have been. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


DarNesha Weary 

So, in that very moment after we went through all the media for that and we did a series on king five called talking to your kids about race because at that moment we felt so unsafe in our own neighborhood. I have never felt that way. I know that we live in the Edmonds area and there are not very many people that look like us and we know that we have given our kids all of the talks, like my son, he is, when he got his cart 16, we are like you cannot drive around this neighborhood with your music up. Although, that is what he wanted to do because he is 16, right? 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

The first thing he did is got and got this great system but we are like you cannot do that, you cannot do that here, you have to follow the rules, you cannot be downtown Edmonds hanging out with the other kids from your class. We gave them the entire toxin. The one time we felt unsafe, where his life was in danger is him just doing a school project because they could not find anywhere else to do it and so, from that moment forward, I was committed to finding spaces for black and brown youth to be and feel safe period and so, we start doing some outreach work at various locations on Friday nights and just hosting kids and we are like and I start reaching out to neighbors in our neighborhood like is, are you a safe space? Are you a space safe business for black boys today? Because my son, he is six-seven, so he is a big kid. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, wow! 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. He is 14, he is a big human, and he plays basketball, a western athlete. But, in that moment no one cared they did not see that, they just saw a big black man, they thought he was a big black man and he was seven, he was not even 18. He hit, yes he was actually 18, but they just saw, like this big black man and thought that he was, you know, coming there to hurt them and so, since that moment, I made it my mission to find spaces and places for black and brown kids to be especially boys to be safe and so, that is when this opportunity was presented to us to actually be in this space and buy this business without hesitation. We said; yes. Now do we have the financial means for this? Have we ever done this before? 

[30:34 – 35:40]

DarNesha Weary 

The answers for those are no, but I was so committed, I am like this is it and we have to figure it out. So, we actually started this only three months ago, three months ago is when we actually got, this property became available, you know, the business became available about three months ago and we just said; we are going to do it and my husband, I have to like bring him along sometimes because I am like the one that is like let us do it all. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Sure. Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

But it just feels right, and ever since we started doing this, we just start getting more and more kids and youth involved and so that is really what launched us and started this and now my kid, my son and my daughter have their own business and their own space and place, now that they can share with their friends and others in the community. So that it really is full circle for us and when we were doing a lot of press and interviews and I start teaching racial equity classes and start consulting with other businesses on how to prevent this from happening in their space, and what to do when difference shows up, whatever differences, so when someone different shows up at your business or in your neighborhood. What do you do? How do you respond? And so, I start teaching cultural introduction, like cultural understanding classes. So, people could understand and start learning this language. 

So, my daughter started teaching race and parenting classes and we just started educating our neighbors and our community because in that moment we really could have just left and said that it is just not safe for us here anywhere really. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


DarNesha Weary 

But we decided to stay and educate and tell the story and say that we are not going to leave, we are going to stay right here. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely! I am glad you did. Education is so powerful and I am sure that is making such a huge difference for so many people and I imagine that must be, you know, also a big burden or hard at least, you know, to do in many a variety of ways. 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Are you still doing that work, the education piece or has the coffee shop kind of taken over for now or…? 


DarNesha Weary 

I am doing both actually and so really our motto is at black coffees, I want you to come in for coffee and then leave with something. So, if you left with a new thought or idea or if you left with being challenged on something that, you know, a thought or thinking that you did have or learning a new term or hearing a story and so… My racial equity work is just embedded into the fabric of this business and building everything that we are doing is intentional, everything we are doing is an intentional because I am using my equity lens and so, they have just kind of come together, which is really great. So, I will be hosting coffee and chats, where I will continue that work. 

Also using this model out in the community as I continue my work and the equity work in the community and say; if you keep your ears to the ground, if you respond to the community appropriately, everything else will fall in line, right, like it will all fall in line. So, I am a systems thinker and my equity work is really rooted in the systems. Because we are all a part of a system and so we need to go in and disrupt that system and so that is what I charge people to do. I am like find out what the system is and disrupt it. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Such good work! 


DarNesha Weary 

Yes. I would just say like for me as a mom and a wife and a woman, a black woman just trying to find my space and find my voice in this world has been really hard, it is been really hard for me. I feel like I am just starting to find that now I, you know, I worked all my life because we grew up where we just worked. I saw my mom work. I saw my dad just work all the time and not really have a balance or learn about self-care or how do I balance that and so that was me for so long. I am just thankful now that I am learning the importance of self-care and taking care of myself and balancing out things. By the end of the day, if everything is not done on my checklist then it is fine. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

And get up and do it again and I am thankful to be able to have those conversations now with teens, especially young black girls because that is something that was modeled a lot in our homes and so, I love to tell that story of; just self-care and how important, especially right now. But right now we are going to set up, you know, this is going to be the expectation going forward is that we take care of ourselves. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Was there something that shifted that kind of made you realize how important self-care was? 


DarNesha Weary 

It was. I was working, I saw, I quit my job to do this coffee shop, I was working a job as an executive director during a pandemic, how to do layoffs, you know, it was a lot of stress, it was a lot, and I was also dealing with racism in that space as well. Direct racism being called the N-word, I had emails sent to me of monkeys, it was pretty awful and it was just because I was an executive director and I was black, their first black executive director over an all-white staff, and how to lay people off and so that is where it got really ugly because, you know, how I dare lay off white people, really what it came down to. 

[35:41 – 40:06]

DarNesha Weary 

I was getting threats and I was just out, in me I just want to help people, I just want to make sure people are successful. So, I start internalizing a lot of the things that were said to me and I ended up getting actually very sick. I ended up, I thought I was having a heart attack, I had to go call 911 and it came down to it after all the testing and, you know, whatever the doctor, it really came down to my doctor's like I think this is stress related and I was like no, like keep looking, like super blood work that cannot be it. I am fine. I got this and I had like cardiac issues due to stress and they are like you need to relax and take time for yourself and recover from this event and I did my… well my husband forced me to disconnect and take a couple of weeks and just take care of myself and I started feeling better and I started eating better. 

And I have always been in therapy but it was more just intense now, like take care of I and I needed someone to hold me accountable to that and my therapist held me accountable to that like are you taking care of yourself and I had to actually heal from that and I will never go back. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

I will continue to take care of myself and model that for my kids and every other woman or youth or anyone that looks that. I work with who is in my spirit of influence, it is self-care because I was not, I was up, you know, I was up stressed eating, whatever is in the kitchen, cookies, French fries, whatever, not sleeping, not working out and almost around myself into a grave literally and I just will not ever do that again. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Yeah, that sounds scary. 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. It was scary and I did not want to accept it. I really wanted to fight back and be like no there is something else wrong with me. It has to be something else. I was like on WebMD, you know, like going down this rabbit hole of like, it cannot be… because I did not want to take responsibility for it. I did not want to say, like I did not want to change my behavior. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


DarNesha Weary 

I wanted to keep doing what I was doing but not be sick. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


DarNesha Weary 

And that does not go work. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. You kind of can get stuck on this, like well this is what is working because here I feel like I am in control and can figure this out and this is what I know and to think of things shifting in any way that can be super scary, because it is like it is all up to you, kind of, I mean, you know, you have a good support system. It sounds like but kind of a daunting shift, I imagine. 


DarNesha Weary 

It is and I have a good support system but I still had to make the decision to do it and I also had to get people around me, who am going to hold me accountable to doing it and so, I made sure all of my… I had a lot of people who are like my yes people, right? Like whatever is going on, like yes girl that is perfect, even if it is making it worse or if it is… I needed people around me, who were the harsh critics. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

Right? I had to build that into this, like accountability partners and I had to tell people like make sure I am held accountable to, if I am overworking, if you see me spiraling, call it out. Call it out and tell me to be done for the day and mostly came from my husband, I mean, when he got that permission, it was like, he was like, yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

He is just waiting. Right? 


DarNesha Weary 

Right. I was like dude, no, calm down and then I actually had that conversation with my kids, my teenage daughter who is 17 and I was like we are in this together and she is modeling my anxious stressed out control behavior. Like I see her modeling that and I am like we got to break this and I am going to break this with together. So, you call me out and I call you out and it is just worked and it is not traditional but it is just what is worked for us. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely, being able to be open and vulnerable and like here is what it is, help each other out. That is amazing. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Well, there are a couple questions that I enjoy asking each guest. It is really fun for me to hear what everybody says, there is a different answer every time. So, one of those is, what brings joy or fun into your life? 


DarNesha Weary 

What brings joy and fun into my life right now is really being at home with my family. We are the most creative silly bunch ever. My whole family is a musician, so my daughter sings, I see, my husband plays the bass, my son plays drums, we have keyboard and so… 

[40:07 – 45:06]

DarNesha Weary 

At any random moment we will just break out with like a whole musical. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is awesome! 


DarNesha Weary 

About whatever, it could be a commercial that we saw on TV, we have some kind of like jingle happening all the time. But, we will go into like full band mode, and dance around the house and, you know, my dog, I am like he is our third child, if we had a third child would be like the worst spoiled child ever. But, like he is funny and silly and I mean we do things like playing hide and seek with the dog at home. But, we just have fun, it brings me joy to come home and just have fun. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Oh that is wonderful! What kind of dog do you have? 


DarNesha Weary 

He is a Chihuahua. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Okay. When I heard him before we started, it sounded like a smaller dog but it was… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. Small fussy bossy! Yeah. Yes, but so fun. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So, then my last question for you… What would make you feel genuinely equal? 


DarNesha Weary 

What would make me feel genuinely equal is now that everyone would… I would need everyone to understand that systemic and institutional racism is real and it is embedded in every system, everywhere and so, as you are out in the world, walking around, if you just know that and accept it, you will see when things are unfair and you will call it out and you will hold that whatever that is accountable and try to change it and fix it and so, I really do not, I am not… look we do not want like, we want true equity which means that you have to do things differently to make sure that each individual or each group is successful. If we abolish these systems, right? If we change the systems and I will feel like I can live in a world where I am safe and free to be me and not feel like I have to act like someone else in order to be safe and we felt a little bit of that at black coffee on Saturday for our soft opening. 

I had many black youth come to me and say they did not want to leave because they felt safe. Like here we build a system where there is justice and fairness and so, someone who would like to come in or anyone that would like to come in and disrupt that, they would not even feel right doing it. Like I want the whole world to be like that, where everything is fair and just. So, you would want to make sure that your neighbor is successful, you would want to make sure that immigrant family is taken care of, and you are supporting their business, you know, like that is the kind of world where I feel like I would be equal, is where there is a world where there is justice and accountability are the two things that lead in fairness. Like I talk to people all the time, I am like, if you see things that are not fair, you do not need a meeting for that at work, just call it out, it is not fair and then how can we fix it and if the answer is we have always done it that way, I tell people to push because that is not an answer. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Right. 


DarNesha Weary 

That is not an answer and then ask them why and keep pushing. So, we have raised, like this group of teenagers, there is 20 of them who are our social justice warriors and workers, who hold their teachers accountable to that, who hold their school district accountable to that and it is amazing to watch adults not know how to respond when they are challenged in that space. But that is what would really make me feel like we are in a world that wants everyone’s. I want everyone to thrive, everyone and whatever I have to do to make sure everyone thrives, we will do that and we are going to use black coffee as that example, we want everyone to thrive at. But, coffee our staff to thrive, our volunteers, that whole community to thrive, it is on aurora where there is a methadone clinic right next door, it is a high prostitution area, a high homeless. I do not care, we want them those are our neighbors and they are welcome. 

And I want our whole community to feel like they are safe and that there is they can be successful at black coffee. I want to start that movement there, it just felt good. I just went in my car and I sobbed because this is the feeling that I wanted to feel my whole life, where I felt safe, I could just be myself and there were, you know, I could just be me and just live free, even I am sorry I had my… I had black friends, like women in leadership positions come through and I am like you do not have to wait in line, you come in, you will be centered in this space, like this is your space, and they did not want to leave because it just really felt like that and so that is what I have always wanted and I personally have always wanted to feel, like I could be me also and so that I felt that on Saturday for the very first time in my life as a black woman in this area and I did not know what to do with that feeling but cry. I did not know what to do with it. I had never felt that before ever. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Wow! I am so glad that you were able to feel that and have that for that Saturday and sounds like from now on… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. I love being there. I mean, my husband and I, we are like we are not going back to the shop, we went yesterday, and today we forced ourselves to stay home… 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

To rest! Yeah.


[45:07 – 50:11]

DarNesha Weary 

To rest but my husband is on his way there right now and I am like please no come home but it just feels so good to be there and it is our heart and soul and our passion all wrapped up in one building and I just do not want to leave. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is so great. I am so happy for you all. 


DarNesha Weary 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

So excited! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Sounds like such a beautiful space. 


DarNesha Weary 

It is. It really is. It is a place of healing, and reconciliation, and there was just all walks of life in there and everyone was just hanging out, you know, like the kids did COVID safeties, they were taking tips, we were socially distanced, there were people outside, people in the corner, like everyone was just hanging out and laughing and having a good time and I am like this is what community looks like. This is what community looks like, how do we keep this going and so, the fact that we do not know how to… we have never, I have never made a cup of coffee and express or a shot of espresso in my life before now. Like that did not matter, what matter was bringing community together, that is what mattered to me and so, I just cannot wait to have everyone experience that. 

I want everyone to experience that and then we want this to be a movement. I want to open up other black coffees, all over the place and I want to do it with black families and teenagers that want to be in business and let us open these things up and let us, you know, call it your own and if we cannot find a space for black youth to be, a great one, let us create a space and so I am just excited. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. So awesome! I am so excited for you all. 


DarNesha Weary 

Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

I am excited to see them all pop up everywhere. 


DarNesha Weary 

Me too! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. 


DarNesha Weary 

Me too! 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

blackcoffeenw.com, is that right? 


DarNesha Weary 

Yes, that is correct, blackcofeenw.com and our website was created and managed by a young guy, a young student at middle school named Malachi, his dad built the website, they built the point of sale system on the website, all the photography, he is in seventh grade. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Oh, my goodness. That is awesome. 


DarNesha Weary 

It is like phenomenal. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

That is amazing! 


DarNesha Weary 

And our social media is done by a young lady who is 17, she is just 17 in 11th grade, but they just know what to do and I always challenge jokes, like if you just let them thrive without barriers, they are amazing, they are running, they know what to do, they are just doing it and I am just like alright, you all do it. They named the drinks, they did the menu, our fundraising video, they did all that, and they are just… I want to see more and more and more young people step into those spaces and lead. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. Absolutely, such great opportunities! 


DarNesha Weary 

It is and I am trying to work myself out of having to have work for the rest of my life. I am like we are going to rise up an army of people, teenagers to be the next CEOs, right? And take this thing and run with it. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Yeah. That is awesome. 


DarNesha Weary 

Yeah. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Are there any other businesses or organizations or anything else that you would like to share before we wrap up? 


DarNesha Weary 

I would like to talk on Zuri's donuts, so Zuri's donuts is located in Edmonds, it is black owned donut shop, they are phenomenal and have been amazing because the Davis, Davis was the owner there, he, you know, was his first time opening a shop as well. I think he is been there for about a year but we just walked in, I was like hey; we are about to open a coffee shop, we have never done this before. Can you help? And he jumped right in, like this you need to do; these are for your signs, your windows, like done. So that was amazing and then also these designs is another small black owned business, who did all of our decals for our windows, all of our signage, all of our staff shirts, all of our hats, masks, everything. She did all of those things from her house, which is phenomenal. Locks man is she stands in strength, which is a woman-owned business and she is a white woman and she made a line called moving from ally to accomplice. 

And the conversation is challenging, our white neighbors and how to show up, especially right now in this time, what that looks like and how to do it and she is been phenomenal and amazing. So many and walnut street coffee in downtown Edmonds, I did not know how to make coffee and she was like, I am going to train you how to be barista, I was like, okay. Yeah. Like everyone just popped in and showed up and like actually showed it, did not say it but actually showed up and so, I am just so happy. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Such a great community of people it sounds like. Well, DarNesha, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your story and your thoughts and your excitement for. I am so excited for black coffee northwest and that there is going to be space for people to feel safe and like they can be themselves because that is what everybody is seeking, I think so… 


DarNesha Weary 

Yes. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

But for people who have not been able to feel that for so long that is the most important. So, I am really excited for you all, and I cannot wait to come, visit and we will be touting it all over so… 


[50:12 – 51:40]

DarNesha Weary 

Awesome! That is great. Thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Thank you so much. 


DarNesha Weary 

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. It is been great. I love this conversation, so thank you. 


Allison Preisinger-Heggins 

Me too! Thank you. Thank you for joining us for take notice amplifying black stories. Please subscribe and follow us on social media, we are at take notice podcast; it would really help us out if you could take a couple of minutes to review our podcast. Thank you for your support. Take notice amplifying black stories is produced, hosted and edited by Allison Preisinger-Heggins, co-produced by Amanda Rae, music by version big five featuring Darius Heggins. Thank you for being with us and thank you for taking notice.