Charles Tripp at the Indiana Interchurch Center
During Black History month it’s important to not only recognize the struggles in the African American community, but also celebrate the community’s successes. Since I moved to Indy, I’ve been happy to see that African Americans are making history every day. There are places here that are Black owned, managed, or founded by African Americans and are welcoming of all.

One of the places I’ve found was Charles T. Tripp’s Art Studio. At CT’s studio, he seeks to unite faith, vision, and art. He tells his story through paintings of the jackets he’s worn throughout his life. You're instantly drawn in by the incredible colors and images that fill his canvasses. The Mississippi native (and pastor) provides a narrative journey through his experiences: from civil rights work to illnesses he endured, each chapter of his life is represented by paintings of the jackets he wore throughout those years. I immediately felt at peace entering this sanctuary of artwork and culture, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. On the third floor of the Indiana Interchurch Center, there are people in the building who go there just to meditate.

Sticking with art and culture in Indy, I was happy to visit Tea’s Me Café. Nestled in the Fall Creek neighborhood, the café is decorated with African sculptures and brown, black, and gold furniture. Husband and wife owners - Wayne and Stacey - have created the perfect comfort zone. I walked in and was greeted by  a large library of teas behind the counter. In conversation, they made me feel as if I was speaking with close friends. I went there on a snowy winter day, relaxing as I drank black almond tea whilst listening to music from different genres from different parts of the globe. Whether it’s caramel, almond or mango tea you’re looking for (or gifts for people who love tea), they have it all at Tea’s Me Café.

With the way I love food, you can imagine I’d have to keep fit somehow. Did you know there was belly-robics (also known as belly-dance boot camp) in Indy? Jennifer Franklin - aka Mojani - is the cofounder of Heavenly Bodies Bellydance and founder of Deshret (a belly-dance troupe). She teaches belly-dance fusion at Brickhouse Fitness every Tuesday evening at 7:45, and it’s much better than your average belly-dance class. I took the class and was impressed with its versatility. As we began by practicing isolations to traditional Moroccan music, we transitioned into a whole routine set to Beyonce's music! After all it is belly-dance fusion, and I had a great time working it out.

Jogging is another exercise routine of mine. I got started through  Black Girl’s Run (BGR), an organization devoted to combating  illnesses which plagued the African American community due to lack of exercise. Imagine how excited I was when I moved and saw that there is a BGR Indianapolis chapter. It has definitely kept me fit - with no excuse since there are different running schedules throughout the city. The group also practices a “No Woman Left Behind” policy which accommodates new runners. It’s a positive support system of friends and veteran runners who keep me motivated - and, just this past November, I ran in my very first marathon, the Monumental Marathon. I plan to be running in the Indy Mini this May!

As these are only a snapshot of what Black businesses have to offer here, there’s definitely a rich African American culture in Indy. Black History Month reaches far beyond the classroom, and with organizations like these, all of us in Indy can play our part and make Black History count every day.
Zainab Awelenje