When architectural designer Lindsey Leardi started the KC BLM Resources, it was a labor of love—and a way to introduce Kansas Citians to the litany of black-owned businesses in the metro.
Along the way, buzz grew—as did Leardi’s efforts. “As great as Kansas City is, we cannot ignore the role our city has played in systemic racism and how visible it is to this day,” she says. “I want to help Kansas City become a more inclusive, equitable city in any way that I can.”
We caught up with the civic-minded Leardi to find out more about the link and what it brings to the table.
First and foremost, what was the genesis behind the project?
They say timing is everything. The genesis of the KC BLM Resource was no different. It was born out of the imperfect storm of:
1) The public murder of George Floyd, which ignited the Black Lives Matter movement like never before, waking up many new allies.
I believe we need to seize this momentum opportunity to educate as many people as we can. The amount of information on the internet and specifically social media is incredibly overwhelming. I wanted to make it easier for people to quit scrolling and actually get to work by putting everything in one place. Sort of like a college course lesson plan. On the first day of class, you usually don’t have to come up with your own list of topics and books.
2) Requests from friends and co-workers in search of resources.
There have been times when my friends call me a “resource.” I’m that friend that plans the night out, event, or trip, and it usually comes with a Google Doc and an itinerary. And if I’m going to create a resource for one person, I might as well share it with anyone and everyone who can benefit from it.
3) Falling in love with Kansas City.
Last month marks my third year living in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Through connecting, experiencing, and volunteering, I have truly fallen in love with this city and the people. As great as Kansas City is, we cannot ignore the role our city has played in systemic racism and how visible it is to this day. I want to help Kansas City become a more inclusive, equitable city in any way that I can.
4) Ask Buddy Black-Owned Experiences article.
I am the co-founder and content strategist for the KC-based tech start-up, Ask Buddy KC. Ask Buddy is a personal assistant that connects you to safe, authentic experiences in Kansas City. In order to create our latest post, KC Black-Owned Businesses You Can Experience Today, I created a master list of KC Black-Owned Businesses and checked their websites and social media pages to see who reopened for dine-in and services.
What has the response been so far?
The response has been primarily grateful! It truly makes my day when people message me with contributions to add. I want this to be an inclusive project. More like a KC database that people can add to, use, and reference. My goal is simply to help us do the work.
Of course, there will always be people who don’t agree. I’ve had some people send me messages with “different perspectives.” But that is part of doing the work. It’s not just gathering resources or book lists, it’s having hard, uncomfortable conversations with people who don’t always agree with you. Otherwise, you’re just in an echo chamber, which isn’t a great place for growing, learning, and, ultimately, change.”
What sort of categories are included? What can people expect when they click?
“I am all about clear communication, organization, and positive user experience. The KC BLM resource page can be accessed via bit.ly/KC-BLM (case sensitive). When people click, they can expect a list of action items, or objectives. Many people ask me, ‘What can I do?’ and the very first page answers that question. (Also, I put a disclaimer saying: This document was created by a white person and is being updated as we learn and grow. As a non-Black person I want to pass the mic and help amplify Black voices.)
The other tabs include resources to support the action items including: Black-Owned Businesses, Black Voices, National Resources, KC Resources, Petitions, Police Brutality, Learn More, and FAQ. My job is simply to listen, educate, and act. I do hope to add more tabs related to Black Live Matters #WhatMatters2020 issues.”
The link is pretty thorough and continues growing exponentially. Impressive. What has creating this meant for you?
“As with most things, activism is easier said than done. Anyone can put together a document with resources. The hard part is the actual conversations and work that follows. What has creating this meant for me? It means it’s time for me to get to work.”