Reflections: Introducing the Dean of Black Excellence
Our new Reflections series brings Juxtaposition Arts alums together with our current Pathways to Colleges and Careers (PaCC) fellows for conversations on careers and creative aspirations.
The first guest was local entrepreneur Houston White (JXTA class of 1995), proprietor of H|W Men’s Room, an upscale barbershop, cafe, boutique and community meeting space in the Webber-Camden neighborhood of North Minneapolis. Houston is also the designer of the Black Excellence line of clothing and apparel. With his shop and increasingly visible Black Excellence brand Houston is attempting to spark a resurgence of creative energy and outstanding achievement in the Black community while also supplying others with a sustainable means of employment.
The long-time trendsetter recalled how in his early days at Juxtaposition Arts he benefited from the hard critique he received from his instructors as well as from the competitiveness of his peers: “we were all trying to outdo one another.”
“Nobody can beat me at being me.”
Returning to JXTA 21 years later, Houston says that his engagement with the PaCC Fellows was as inspiring for him as it might have been for them. The Fellows took particular interest as Houston recalled operating a barbershop from his aunt’s basement and designing and selling t-shirts while a student at North High School. Likewise, they welcomed his wisdom that they prepare themselves for the occasional failure as they pursue their creative futures.