#TheLayOut was organized by Emily Anadu, a Brooklyn resident who has lived in Fort Greene for 15 years.
The onslaught of videos featuring the inhumane actions of police officers and white Americans have been in the news cycle for roughly two months. This time period has exposed the cruel deaths of not just George Floyd, but countless others like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Sean Reed. Nationwide protests that have taken place in major cities including Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and New York City, protestors, and social media users alike are physically and emotionally drained.
Emily Anadu, a consultant, was inspired by the disruption she saw firsthand in Fort Greene, the neighborhood she resides in, in Brooklyn. She’s lived there for 15 years and has seen the population of the community shift from black to mostly white due to gentrification, she shared in an email. On Saturday, May 30 following an evening filled with a protest and riot fueled by Floyd’s death outside where she lives, she recalls waking up seeing the surrounding area completely cleaned.
“Within a few hours, the farmer’s market was going and people were picnicking in the park like nothing had happened,” Anadu said via email. She also added white residents were acting as if things were completely normal. The night prior, she remembers seeing a burning NYPD van engulfed in flames.
Immediately after experiencing the moments above, Anadu began planning #TheLayOut, an event created to be a safe space with a few friends including Briyonah McClain, Michael Oloyede, and Brittney Escovedo, founder of Beyond 8. To be clear, #TheLayOut followed 10 days of protests that have been taking place throughout the country. The meet-up was organized to be a day to “reclaim space, find healing, and have a day of self-care through the love and togetherness of the community.” This was important to Anadu since she felt as though many of her friends and those in the community had been marching and protesting non-stop.
Escovedo on Sunday’s #TheLayOut:
“Celebrating Black people unapologetically and supporting our community has always been and always will be important to me. Bringing Emily’s vision to life was a no brainer and within 48 hours I had the support of my dear friend Darian at Heal Haus, my closest friend Cyrus Aaron, a photographer and videographer all in support of the cause.”
The meet-up featured a poem by storyteller Cyrus Aaron which was then followed by a meditation that timed at 8:46 to shed light on the length of time Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s throat. Black-owned wellness space Heal Haus practitioner Tiffany R. Moore led the meditation. Team Epiphany, a cultural marketing agency provided Bittersweet products for #TheLayOut attendees. Bittersweet is a local Black-owned coffee shop.
“While many of us had been marching and protesting, it felt different to emerge from our homes to just be together in peace, love and community,” Anadu shared. “While this has been an unbearable very hard few weeks when bad news seems to come from everywhere, I do feel like as a Black community we do feel more comfortable than ever speaking out loud.”
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.