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African-American minimalist movement

December 9, 2017 GMT

A staple of the holiday season is the annual TV airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” where the main character laments the commercialization of the holiday. The simple message delivered by the animated characters of the 1965 special resonates even more now as commercialism has morphed into consumerism. The pushback has emerged in the form of the minimalist movement that challenge the mindless consumerism in our lives.

Many of us know that less is more, but embracing a minimalist lifestyle can be a challenge when one is bombarded by constant advertisements. Commercials influence your buying habits by making it difficult to discern what you want from what you need. The result is materialism where often consumers are making purchases simply for the sake of buying. Sure, it’s on sale, but do you need it?

Thus, we’ve seen the rise of the minimalism movement. It seems that the most influential minimalist-themed social media posts come from white and Asian authors, which is why writer Cameron Glover’s countered that notion in a recent article, “Is Minimalism for Black People?”

“People of color, then, approach today’s minimalism in different ways than their white counterparts,” writes Glover. “Despite the new movement’s lack of diversity on the surface, there are a small number of Black individuals who proudly call themselves minimalists in 2017.”

With more than 14,000 Instagram followers, Roe and Erin are #minimalist lifestyle influencers sharing their journey on Brown Kids, explaining: “We live how we wish: all love, not sorry… Simplicity is for everyone.”

Roe has detailed her experience on the “ Hey Gir l” podcast: bit.ly/RoeOnMinimalism.

“For me, minimalism is not about a set number of things that we have. For me, minimalism is about financial freedom,” said Roe. “So, how do we continue to live abundantly on far less than we think that we need. It is really the best way that I know how to take care of myself, to steward my peace of mind and belong to myself. There is nothing, no substitute for the feeling of liberty, and the way that I have liberty in my life is that I think differently about things and I use the resources that do come to me to support an abundant and thriving future for the next generation.”

Atlanta-based freelance travel writer and blogger Nneka M. Okona describes herself as a “heart-centered, epicurean, bookish wanderlust writer.” She detailed her “inadvertent foray” into minimalism in a “For Harriet” article titled, “ Embracing Afro-Minimalism: For Black Women Minimalism Can Be Revolutionary.”

“Minimalism, at its core, is an attempt at a more simplified life,” writes Okona. “It’s ridding ourselves of the compulsive need to collect stuff and to streamline our lives. Collect less, own less, have less and feel freer.” Read more on Twitter @afrosypaella.

Social media has allowed Black minimalists to forge a supportive community. The Black Minimalists (BM) Podcast (available on iTunes and Soundcloud) is a monthly simple living program hosted by BM co-founder and founder of “The Hillbilly African,” Farai Harreld (@thehillbillyafrican). Launched in September, the BM site delves into minimalism from the Black cultural perspective. For information, visit, blackminimalists.net.

There are hundreds of ways to transition to a minimalist lifestyle. The first step is to declare all the reasons you want to live simply. Visualize your new life and then declare a clutter-fee zone and keep a diary of your journey. Next, make a budget — and stick to it. Also, realize you are not alone and visit the sites of the above Black minimalists for additional resources, support and guidance.

With a little help and a bit of effort, you can learn how to live with less but experience more in life.