Three essential stories on the vastness of Blackness

Twenty-8 | Soho House

Felton Kizer shares excerpts from his twenty-8 zine highlighting Black creatives in partnership with Soho House Chicago

Monday 28 February 2022   Words and Photography by Felton Kizer  

While I do not wish to gatekeep Black culture, I will do my best to protect it at any cost. 

This is for us, about us, and by us. 

Twenty-8 is not just a zine highlighting Black members within Soho House; it’s a love letter to our ancestors; a love letter to Blackness. The stories that grace these pages are of iconic leaders shifting culture and reimagining the vastness of Blackness. As Marcus Riley said, ‘Now is the time for us to change because we have that window of opportunity.’ I hope these stories comfort you, inspire you or simply allow you a moment to dream. 

Below, find three of the 28 stories highlighted in the print edition of twenty-8.

Twenty-8 | Soho House

Kamilah Rashied, director of education at the Court Theatre

Hearing Kamilah Rashied, director of education at the Court Theatre, speak to Blackness as dark matter reinforces the notion of Blackness being a superpower; ‘Chemical X’ if you will. Read below to explore how Rashied navigates the world with dark matter at her core. 

How would you describe your relationship to Blackness? 
‘It’s everything; it’s the air. I live in a space materially, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively where Blackness is dark matter. It’s in the ethers around us, in us, and constantly impacting us. Some of those ways depend on how people distort that matter and can be toxic, but the frequencies I tend to pay attention to are the expansive aspects of that matter. I am an afro-futurist, interested in the past, but understanding of functioning in the present, and focused on the future. There is nothing I do that isn’t related to Blackness, and I think that’s a good thing.’

How do you measure happiness? 
‘As I get older, I measure happiness as peace and contentment. I realised that happiness is about being able to be in a state of appreciation. When in that state regularly, you feel peace, because you only want what you have right now, and you feel gratitude for it. As I get older, “having it all” is having peace. People think of happiness as being in an ecstatic state all the time, but for me it’s about knowing that the present is enough. I don’t need more.’ 

Who are you? 
‘I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m my father’s daughter. I’m a Johnson, that’s my mum’s side of the family; Johnson women raised me and raised my mother. I’m definitely that b*tch. I think that’s important, because when you have a sense of entitlement or empowerment as a young Black person in a femme-presenting body, people make any level of asserting themselves negatively. Now I wear that b*tchness as a badge of honour. It’s people’s privilege to be in the presence of an assertive Black femme presence.’

Twenty-8 | Soho House

Danielle C Washington, cofounder and CMO of Rebundle

Danielle C Washington is the cofounder and chief marketing officer of Rebundle, the first US-made plant-based braiding hair brand. While the company just celebrated its first birthday, its roots run deep within Black culture, sustainability, and comfort. Discover more about Washington and her relationship with Black hair. 

Who are you? 
‘I’m an ocean; vast, deep, and beautiful to look at, but still dangerous if you get too close. Very fluid. I am a Sagittarius, so fire is deep in me, but who doesn’t like hot water?’

How would you describe your relationship to Black hair? 
‘My relationship with my hair changes; it ebbs and flows and represents my life story. I grew up in a predominantly white area, where Blackness was a fly on the wall. I went through the famous “big chop” in college that allowed me to be more than just my hair, and a lot of that was because I was trying to assimilate to European beauty stereotypes. I quickly learnt that was not the reality I wanted to live. It represents how I show up as a Black woman. Right now, I’m incredibly concerned with sustainability and how Black women show up to the table.’

How would you describe your relationship to Blackness? 
‘It’s hard to describe a relationship to self. Blackness, for me, is like when Harry Potter realises he has powers. He always knew he was different, but now he knows how to hone in on it. Blackness is so much of who I am. I would attribute it to my relationship with God, because he is another being. Blackness [is] a part of myself. We’re one.’ 

How do you measure happiness? 
‘Today, it’s about the amount of time I can physically be in a space where I’m celebrating my friends and family. Lately, because of COVID-19, it’s challenging to be in person. Today, I’m not saying I’m not happy; I’m saying I’m very happy, but to think about how I move in happiness, it looks like a celebration of others. It’s about being there and showing up for myself and others, and that makes me feel happy.’ 

Twenty-8 | Soho House

Kayla Jeter, founder of Fit and Full by Kayla

‘Kayla Jeter not only sees a person, but she also gets to know them. Her purpose is to serve other people, bring them together, and make them feel less alone. Below you’ll discover some fundamental lessons she has learnt so far.’

When did you realise that you were Black? 
‘Through volleyball – recognising that no one else looked like me in the gym. Understanding how my body moved in white spaces took time to learn. My dad played football and grew up in an era where Black athletes were treated like trash. I had to do some self-discovery to figure out what that meant to be a Black athlete to understand how I showed up on the court. My Blackness was reflected when I moved to Chicago – the first place I lived as an adult. I didn’t know anyone. I made my friends and found my people, and saw how the city was divided. 

‘I lived in Lincoln Park and Lakeview. I’d be walking around thinking that not only is there no one who looks like me, but people are looking at me because I don’t look like them. When I started hanging around certain groups of people – even more so with groups of Black people – I noticed that my Blackness was different. 

‘For me, it wasn’t the idea of being light-skinned and not knowing where I fit in, but it was the first time I’ve ever thought, “Who are you? What do you stand for? And who reflects the values that you hold?”’

Who are you? 
‘I am a daughter of two people who gave their entire life to allow me the opportunity to make it where I am today. I am a sister to three crazy-ass girls. I love and reflect so much strength, beauty, resilience, and selflessness. I’m a connector. One of my purposes here is to serve other people, bring them together, and make them feel less alone, whether through the social media space, virtual, or just in the community. 

‘I am multi-hyphenated. I’m Kayla, and I’m everything God continues to shape me to be.’

How would you describe your relationship to Blackness? 
‘It’s who I am. It’s how people identify me when I first walk into a room. It’s who I represent. When I walk into a room, it is my story. It is my culture. It is my history. It is my structure. It is my trauma. It is my beauty. It’s weaved into my entire being.’


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