On a sunny San Diego afternoon, a cafe is packed with women trying on headwraps and
getting fitted for waist beads. The sense of togetherness here does not happen by chance
but is instead cultivated in a space owned by a Black woman who understands the need
for a business that is run with the community in mind. Café X: By Any Beans Necessary
is a homegrown coffee shop rooted in southeast San Diego and dedicated to advancing
communal wealth building in the community; Khea Pollard, a San Diego native, is the
brilliant brain behind it. With an MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, two
BAs in English and Ethnic Studies, and two good parents, Pollard advises on Public
Policy for the County of San Diego by day and works on other soulful activities by night.
During her time as a 2016 Fellow with the experiential learning fellowship RISE San
Diego, Café X was born. She learned leadership lessons in this fellowship designed to
support leaders in finding solutions for complex problems in “urban”/Black, Brown,
Yellow communities. Additionally, she was inspired by the life and legacy of Malcolm X.
The phrase “by any means necessary” was used in a play by French philosopher Jean-
Paul Sartre called Les mains sales or Dirty Hands. Performed in 1948, it’s a political
drama about a faction fighting for a classless society against a Fascist regime around the
World War II era all told through the memory of an assassin. The play used that phrase
within the context of eliminating class and when Malcolm X traveled to Paris around the
same time, he used it in his speech to the Organization of African American Unity. The
politics, history, and pure humanity in those words strongly resonated with Pollard
because she understood that any and all change begins with the individual and the
Café X is a legacy project that had to be created because Pollard realized there was a
strong need for it. It was intended to establish a relational, mutually beneficial network
with partnering organizations for collective impact such as freedom for member-owners,
personal and community wellness, and keeping money flowing within the community.
She recognized that cultural context and leverage are critical to structural change. While
it is difficult enough to open a business and generate revenue, it is even more so when
generational wealth-building is also one of the goals of the business and Café X takes on
the challenge of embracing economic development with a value system that is built to
benefit the community.
In addition to advancing the community in a natural and respectful way, she wants
people to feel both proud and vulnerable when they visit Café X because that is
important to her. “It’s the kind of authenticity and assuredness blended together that
keeps me going. If we can get a little bit of that with our coffee, it’ll make a brighter day,”
Pollard says. Intentional event planning is part of what makes Café X a conducive space for authenticity. The Headwrap Meet-Up was a partnership with Runway Boutique L.A.
and vendors Alaiyo Waistbeads and Tielle Greene who provided waist beads and tribal
face painting. Upcoming events include a Game Night to build community as well as a
partnership with O.U.R Afro Entertainment for a special night of performances
Valentine’s Day weekend.
Khea Pollard is motivated by the understanding that she has a long way to grow
personally and professionally. “The paradox of ‘the more you learn, the less you know’ is
real,” she says. “Keeping that and the vision for connectedness in mind, and what a
development like this could mean for marginalized communities is more promising than
anything monetary that will come out of it.”
She lives by the following mantras: For complete and total freedom, you must make a
job, not just take a job; There are no mistakes or ‘wins’—only lessons; If you can run a
nonprofit, you can do anything. Pollard wants the world to know that she doesn’t quit
and neither do her people.