If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked poet, essayist, and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib about the crystal, water bottle, and tea he can’t live without.
I am someone who believes in otherworldly properties of healing or protection because I am not sold on this world’s ability to heal or protect me as it is currently constructed. So I am almost required to believe in the healing properties of crystals. Black tourmaline crystals are useful for protection against negative entities — you know, like getting rid of negative thoughts and kind of releasing feelings of unworthiness. I keep one on my desk to keep me safe from my worst impulses when I’m in the throes of work or the creative process. I am someone who can very quickly give into the comforts of feeling unworthy. And so it’s kind of cool to have something on my desk that throws a thin shield up. I also keep one on my nightstand and another in the kitchen. When I was traveling more often, I’d have a little one in my pocket or in my bag.
My doctor was like, “You’re drinking enough water, but you could maybe drink some more.” She told me that if got a water bottle with a straw, it will encourage me to drink more in one sitting because I’d just kind of drink through the straw without even thinking about it. It’s wild, the straw thing: I can’t believe that such a switch needed to be flipped for me to hydrate appropriately. I toured extensively in 2019 and early 2020, and there are photos of me at every reading with this water bottle. Like, you’re able to do a Where’s Waldo? where you can spot me and spot the water bottle.
A homie put me on to Sis Got Tea. It’s Black-owned, Black-brewed — Black folks do the whole move with it. The hibiscus flavor — the Sis Got Tea one especially — has a tartness that is balanced really well by just a tiny bit of sugar, like not even a spoonful. I don’t like dressing up a mug of tea; the flavor has to be able to stand on its own. I think about a mug of tea like I think about an album: The mug of tea has to stand up on its own. I don’t want it to be like, this sip was good, but the next couple of sips aren’t hittin’. Like an album, a mug of tea has to stand up on its own all the way through.
I have a pretty elaborate skin-care routine. I’m someone who tries really hard to listen to what the mirror tells me. But I’m not someone who is obsessed with my own reflection — part of my routine just relies on responding to what the mirror is telling me. I was waking up and looking at myself in the mirror, like while brushing my teeth, and I was like, there’s something I need to set off a nightly routine that is serving my skin as I sleep. Something that’s gentle, that exfoliates through the night, so that I wake up a little bit clear before I start doing my base morning cleanse. The Pholk night treatment is that; it definitely helps in that skin-care-before-bed way. And it folds comfortably into the rest of my routine.