The Skanner has a slightly heartbreaking article about the imminent closure of Northeast Killingsworth's Talking Drum Books and the attached Reflections Coffee. The article describes Reflections as a long-time community gathering space for Northeast Portland's African American community, and points to its closure as yet another effect of gentrification in the area:
The store has been forced to close at the end of June because the business is no longer able to support itself. A combination of gentrification and exhaustion on the part of McMurtry, have led her to decide it’s time to leave.
Individuals and groups that have utilized the bookstore vary and represent different pieces of the community.
Daniel Capuia, who lives a few blocks away, briefly operated reading sessions for children at the store. After that fell through, he still made a point to bring his son, who is now six, to the coffee shop every Saturday morning.
“I wanted to let him see a place where there was a whole bunch of black folks,” says Capuia. “He used to ask me ‘Why am I Black?’ At Reflections our people can be loud and you don’t have to constantly justify your policies.”
Ahjamu Umi of Occupy Northeast “The Black Working Group,” says the group got its start at Reflections in December of last year. They meet at the store every Saturday afternoon to plan actions around foreclosure resistance and stopping police brutality.
Although their work against foreclosures lends them people’s homes to operate out of, Umi, who is originally from San Francisco, says Reflections provides a safe space where people can express themselves.
“Every city has a Reflections,” says Umi. “Unlike the Bay Area, Reflections is one of the only ones here. It’s going to leave a void in the community because there aren’t that many places where African-Americans can meet. There are a lot of places we can go but people don’t feel as comfortable.”
The whole piece is a worthwhile read.