How One Black-Owned Vegan Restaurant Aims to Empower its Neighborhood

This article was originally posted in the Boston Globe

Oasis Vegan Veggie Parlor is the coziest corner of Four Corners in Dorchester, an island of calm at the busy intersection where Washington meets three other streets. The little restaurant is painted vivid saffron, red, cobalt, green. Potted plants, dream catchers, and a mural of pyramids and palm trees are among the decorations, an assortment of crystals on the counter. A message written above a window reads: “Everything made with love.”

Those aren’t empty words.

Jahriffe Mackenzie and Nahdra Ra Kiros just marked the first anniversary of their restaurant, along with partner Chesterfield Coppin. To celebrate, they threw a free party with live music and invited the whole community. Mackenzie is the frontman for reggae band JAH-N-I Roots Movement and also runs a landscaping company; Ra Kiros is a fashion designer. The couple lives nearby with their five children, ages 9 to 15, whom they home-school.

“We put a lot of love in here,” says Ra Kiros, who is wearing a top hat from one of her collections, a flowing skirt of many colors, and a bright yellow apron, her hair wrapped in a long leopard scarf. The tattoos beside her eyes, enhanced with henna, represent her tribe. “This looks like our home. It’s not a show. This is about healing the community as well as healing ourselves. You do that by sending loving vibrations.”

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