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My first few months in Phoenix were lonely. Elizabeth Montgomery is a producer for The Arizona Republic, azcentral. As the saying goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone — or have to work hard to find it. This city is full of people from somewhere else and many are looking for pieces of home, just like I was. She is vice-chair of the Arizona Republic's diversity committee and vice president of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists.
You can meet people here and find out what other people are doing. Everything I needed — from black hair care, to soul food, to bars that don't turn 2 Chainz into techno — was easily accessible and plentiful in Atlanta. There, I could walk around my neighborhood grocery store and nearly everyone looked like me; getting my hair done was as simple as walking into the Weave Shop.
I felt isolated. People came up to me, got to know me, and I was able to ask all those burning questions: People like Erika Alexander, who has lived in Phoenix for 15 years.
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A true southerner, I sampled as much sweet tea as I could and ranked the best ones in the Valley. How being black in Phoenix made me love my culture more. But I was confident I could quickly find my own slice of home here. That feeling of being connected to my culture had returned.
How being black in phoenix made me love my culture more
The store and its monthly farmers market feature dozens of black-owned businesses. On the first few visits to my local Fry's, I searched for someone who looked like me more than I looked for groceries. I was moving from Atlanta, the nation's black mecca, to a much whiter city.
I moved here by myself and had a lot of questions: I needed to know where to get products for my hair, who has the best soul food in the Valley, and where I can dance to trap music on a Friday night. Share your feedback to help improve our site!
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Talking to her helped me realize I can't expect Phoenix to be just like my hometown. You come to places like Archwood Exchange.
Reach her at emontgomery azcentral. I was the only black person at a bar in Scottsdale and couldn't get the bartender to look at me.
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When I moved to Phoenix almost two years ago, my first goal was to meet someone I could relate to, someone who looks like me: a black woman. Simple things were hard to find, like a hair salon I can walk into and get a sew-in or a store that sells Hicks Edges.
Elizabeth Montgomery Arizona Republic. The room was filled with people who looked like me, who understood me, who saw me.
Every first Saturday at the Parsons Center in Phoenix, black women and men set up rows of tables to display their brands, clothing, beauty products, handmade jewelry, food, spices and artwork. For more stories that matter, subscribe to azcentral. I got caught in my first dust storm driving home to Tempe. She didn't know me, but the moment I saw her natural hair bouncing in the wind I knew she was who I was searching for. I was excited to feel a dry heat and slightly afraid of seeing a haboob. And I cooked food in my car during a degree day, because why not?
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You have to search for it. Phoenix is not Atlanta, and I had to adjust to the difference. Since I found it, I've never felt more black or more proud of it.
I grew up with a sense of security that I could walk around unbothered and unafraid because I was surrounded by people like me. Moving to Phoenix made me realize how much I love my black culture. That's how I found the answers I was looking for when I moved here: Go to Get Sassy or Mane de Jour beauty supply stores for black hair products; Stacy's off da Hook has the best mac and cheese; you can get lit at Brunch-ish, on Sundays; and when the Basement Tapes DJs are at Concierge Bistro, go dance the night away.
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I worked hard to find my culture in Phoenix. Life went from being safe and unbothered to being bothered. Facebook Twitter .