From The Yellow Sofa

By Carl Nickles

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When I first heard about minimalism, what immediately resonated with me was the idea of not having so much crap!  I grew up in a middle-class suburb in a 3 bedroom home with a full basement.   The house was never dirty or visibly cluttered (due to weekday and weekend chores for my younger sister and me), but there were drawers and closets that were stuffed with things were never or rarely used.  For example, there was (and still is) a large utensil drawer in my parents house with multiple spatulas, carving knives, icing spreaders, and mixing spoons acquired over the years.  Only a handful were used regularly.  Fast forward to my own home after moving out.  Different surroundings, similar situations.  After living on my own for a time I  attempted to implement minimalism’s most tangible tenet - getting rid of clutter. Over time, I began to discover how minimalism could benefit me in other ways besides just having less stuff.

I’ve discovered that minimalism is not about not owning furniture and displaying bare walls.  Reducing the physical excess clutter is the beginning of minimalism in my opinion.  The journey continues with detaching from the idea of having things just because I can or thinking that I have to have them.  Minimalism can be about finding freedom from not only the physical but the economical (rat race), mental and emotional clutter.  Minimalism can inform how I think, how I view my surroundings, my life, other people, finances, even what I eat.  It sounds overwhelming but it’s not. 

With all of the forms minimalism can take and how it can positively influence my life, it makes it more than just something to be into because it’s trendy.  It can be a lifestyle that can grow as I grow, mature and change.  I can see myself as being enough and my decisions and emotions can  benefit me and people close to me.  I can be mindful of the future and be free of anxiety while living in the present.  That’s not to say that I’m free from the pressure to conform and consume.  American society in general and the black community in particular can exert a great deal of pressure to consume and “keep up”.

While it’s important to find your own path and to discover what minimalism means to you,  it’s helpful to know that there are others out there like you, who look like you and who are learning and experimenting as well.  Here are some people who have made it their mission to share the benefits of minimal living:

“The Afro Minimalist” (@afrominimalist), curated by Christine Platt. Christine shares her experiences living in and decorating a 630 square foot apartment and even provides a tour (follow the link in her bio on Instagram).  Christine Platt is also a published author and the Managing Director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center (@AntiracismCtr). 

@blkminimalists ( is the creation of Yolanda Acree, Kenya Cummings, Farai Harreld and Anekia Nicole. The current members are Yolanda, Kenya and Farai.  On their site you’ll find interviews, personal essays from the founders, a space to share your own personal journey and they even host a pod cast. They also provide an e-course which provides an introduction to simple living with the help of videos, worksheets and links to other resources. 

Also, check out E and Roe of “Brown Kids” (@brownkids) on Instagram and take a look at their posts about minimalism and intentional living, enroll in The Jar Method Visual Workshop which will show you how to save money and reduce/eliminate food waste and their stories featuring their Debt Diary chronicling how Roe had paid down her debt.

Minimalism is about so much more and there is so much more for me to discover.  Feel free to share your own journey with minimalism or ask questions by clicking the title of this blog.  Also feel free to leave any other comments.  Live free.