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Abolition and Healing through Community with Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Photo of 10 people gathered in front of the Crenshaw Dairy Mart on a sunny day.

Crenshaw Dairy Mart is a community collective based in Inglewood, California dedicated to ancestry, abolition, and healing. The artist-led organization works to shift “the trauma-induced conditions of poverty and economic injustice, bridge cultural work and advocacy, and investigate ancestries through the lens of Inglewood and its community”. Founded in 2019 by artists alexandre ali reza dorriz, noé olivas and Patrisse Cullors, the collective bridges the gap between artistry and activism and poses the question: how can economic justice be achieved through creativity and solidarity? 

Each aspect of Crenshaw Dairy Mart is strategically aligned with the mission of the organization, down to the location itself. The collective is based in what used to be a functioning dairy mart in Inglewood, a city that was predominately Black until the 1990s and is currently home to many Brown and Black families. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Inglewood has the second highest rate of imprisonment in Los Angeles county, with 585 incarcerated individuals for every 100,000 people. One of the main goals of Crenshaw Dairy Mart is to understand the current systems of punishment and re-imagine an abolitionist future that eliminates these harmful structures and establishes care and community within Inglewood and beyond. 

One key pillar of Crenshaw Dairy Mart is its Fellowship for Abolition and the Advancement of the Creative Economy. This fellowship is a one year program that abides by the traditional structure of a residency program but is also shaped by an abolitionist framework. The inaugural fellowship topic "Inglewood & Prototyping the Abolitionist Imagination” encouraged the three chosen fellows to explore an abolitionist future through artist workshops, studio visits, and group critiques. The necessity of this fellowship can be tied directly to the rising costs of graduate arts programs and their lack of accessibility. Historically, people of color and low-income individuals have been locked out of higher education, especially in the arts. Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s fellowship develops artists to a place where they can be confident enough to inspire change in their communities through the art they create. Additionally, the fellowship includes an internship program where the participants can pass on their knowledge to young artists, emphasizing the importance of communal care and generational healing. 

Outside of its fellowship, Crenshaw Dairy Mart hosts art exhibitions, community screenings, a film festival, and various programs that investigate topics including prison reformation and disconnecting from virtual reality. The organization aims to activate the local creative community by utilizing art as a vehicle for social progress. Additionally, the members who make up the organization build art supply kits, contribute to Inglewood’s community fridge, and host a relief fund and mutual aid network. Through these diverse avenues, Crenshaw Dairy Mart speaks to the whole person, ensuring that creatives have their basic needs met before they are able to envision a better future for their communities. 

Another community centric and visually striking component of the non-profit organization is its Abolitionist Pod, first presented in 2021 at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary. The Abolitionist Pod houses locally sourced fruits and vegetables produced by Black farmers, a direct effort to counteract the food insecurity that many families and individuals in the community face. The pod is also a gathering place for workshops that unpack diverse topics including food justice, job security, and healing through art. A goal of the organization is to implement several Abolitionist Pods across LA that serve as communal spaces while providing healthy food options to underserved areas. 

Crenshaw Dairy Mart envisions a future where marginalized artists are empowered and equipped to join the creative economy, while also being adequately compensated for their work. The organization empowers creatives to explore the intersection between art and activism while challenging the oppressive systems that currently stand in the way of economic freedom. Placing community values at the forefront of everything they do, Crenshaw Dairy Mart takes strides towards the direction of healing and solidarity.