The Station is the heart of Seattleā€™s underground hiphop scene. Kelly O

If you are a person of color and new to this city, here are some things you need to know: Seattle is one of the whitest major cities in America and, in fact, is becoming slightly whiter. In general, its northern neighborhoods are very white and its southern ones are multicolored (although it's losing its historic Black neighborhood, the Central District, to gentrification). There are places in the deep north (Mountlake Terrace, for example) that have Black African and Asian enclaves, but the south is where the majority of the city's people of color reside. Indeed, one of its neighborhoods, Brighton, is, according to the 2010 census, almost 90 percent people of color. There is no place like that in the north. As a consequence, many of the major Chinese, Filipino, Black African, Black American, Vietnamese, and Latino establishments, events, and recreational centers can be found in the south and, increasingly, the deep south. There is a good reason why the USCIS offices are located down there.

Here are the places you should know:


Morning Star Cafe (a pop-up that happens mostly in South Seattle)

If you google "A DJ and a Cook," you will find a website that contains information about the next location for Morning Star Cafe's pop-up brunch. Chef Tarik Abdullah's cooking is simply wonderful, and his events usually include a live band, a DJ, or a poet. The last brunch I attended, I found a whole lot of people who looked just like me, Black, eating Abdullah's lush and wide-ranging inventions. North Africa, the American South, and the Middle East are the biggest influences on his menus.

Safeway on Rainier (Rainer Valley)

This supermarket used to be a very mixed place—lots of Blacks (African and American), whites, Latinos, and Asians. But ever since a PCC (aka expensive food) opened in Columbia City, I have noticed that fewer and fewer whites shop here. Though the Safeway sucks for having replaced the Silver Fork, a Black American restaurant and institution, with a gas station, it has really great sections for Mexican and Asian foods. Also, there is a Ross Dress for Less next door, alive with the colors of the world.

Westfield Southcenter (Tukwila)

If you want to see the future of South Seattle (indeed, the future of the minority-majority America), go to this mall. Its swirl of cultures, colors, and languages will, if you are not prepared, make your head spin. This mall is the Babylon of our metropolis.

The Blu Grouse (Georgetown)

If you had been in this town in the 1990s, you would have found a good number of Black bars and restaurants. Today, there is only a handful. One such place is the Blu Grouse in Georgetown, a former house that's been transformed into a bar, restaurant, and nightclub. The last time I visited the joint, I ran into the Ghetto President (a local hiphop promoter) and a whole bunch of other brothers and sisters I had not seen in ages. They all sat in the backyard chilling, eating, drinking, and listening to the latest beats. The only non–people of color here were serving drinks behind the bar. (A note: The neighborhood north of Georgetown, Sodo, has the highest percentage of Native Americans in Seattle.)

The Station (Beacon Hill)

This cafe is really the heartbeat of Beacon Hill, a neighborhood that's more than 50 percent Asian American. It's also the heart of Seattle's underground hiphop scene. The highly regarded Ethiopian American rapper Gabriel Teodros is a regular. JusMoni of the Black Weirdo world works there. (Do not miss a Black Weirdo party, if you get word of one.) The last time I visited the place, a Black transgender person hushed me for talking too loudly. They were trying to concentrate on a poem. The Station has got it like that.

White Center (West Seattle)

This neighborhood is minority-majority and has lots of great Mexican and Southeast Asian joints, as well as a popular bowling alley, Roxbury Lanes, that has a casino and sells very good Chinese food. White Center is the people-of-color capital of West Seattle.

Starbucks on 23rd (Central District)

This Starbucks is very popular with East Africans and Black Americans, despite the fact that the neighborhood (the CD) has become mostly white. If you happen to visit the place, you might even see Charlie James, a veteran Black nationalist activist who always sports a handsome fez.

Northwest African American Museum (Central District)

All of the events and parties at NAAM, which is devoted to the preservation, promotion, and advancement of Black American culture in the Pacific Northwest, are well attended by member of the Black community. This is the place the city came to process what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, in August of 2014.

Fort St. George (International District)

The Asian American bartenders at this Japanese American spot are really something else. They listen mostly to '90s hiphop and rare soul. Young Asian Americans dig the food here, which is a combination of popular American and Japanese dishes. The first time I ever heard Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir's album Like a Ship... (Without a Sail) was here. Initially released in 1971, but rereleased in 2010 by the local label Light in the Attic, Like a Ship is a gorgeous work of gospel soul. It almost makes you want to believe in God. The universe makes total sense in this music. And there is a very good chance that I might have gone through my whole life without ever discovering this record if it wasn't for the bartenders of Fort St George.

Jefferson Park (Beacon Hill)

What you will find at this park is a constant celebration of Seattle's diversity. All kinds of people visit it to play tennis (my Southeast Asian neighbor in Columbia City gives lessons here) or golf (which is really popular with middle-aged Black American men), or to walk around the field, which used to be an open reservoir but was closed to protect our water from terrorists. Though some of the public art here is regrettable, Jefferson Park can be proud of the fact that it is one of the few places in town that hosts cricket matches, a sport beloved by members of the Polynesian community. Another great park for people of color is Pratt Park, which is near the rather splashy Ethiopian restaurant Wonder Coffee & Sports Bar and Lake Chad Cafe, a place that's straight out of Africa. recommended