Letter to the Editor | Community closet serves as model for better tomorrow
July 17, 2021
I am overwhelmed with joy to see the youth in the C-U area engaging in community coalition. I want to applaud young Black activist, Ayan Harris, for her role in creating the community closet.
Access to affordable clothing is equally a human right as food, water, stable housing and health care. Harris’ community closet challenges individuals to engage in educational dialogue about clothing poverty, an issue impacting population groups who are unemployed, low income, in need of housing assistance and/or living in impoverished conditions.
Vulnerable and underserved individuals can be resistant to seek services from others due to social ostracism, stigmatization and neglect. The community closet grants struggling community members access to secure clothing, as needed, without additional judgments at hand. From weather-appropriate clothing to professional attire, these community members can feel protected while simultaneously and confidently expressing their authentic selves.
Harris’ community closet encourages individuals, like me, to acknowledge their class advantages and to more directly assist those in need. For instance, rather than using reselling unwanted clothing via online platforms, such as Poshmark, ThredUp or Depop, clothing can be directly donated to those in need through community closets. Direct clothing donations reduce the financial barriers of attaining clothing for populations who may be unemployed, working poor and/or facing homelessness.
Overall, other communities should consider following suit and learning from Harris’ innovative idea of a community closet. Not only does it benefit those in need, but it also creates a tie between the community and its people by fostering a safe and less stigmatized environment. This act of altruism is more than just “giving clothing” – it is giving confidence, work attire and warmth to those who may not have had that before.
Miranda is a graduate student in Social Work.