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Guest Post : The Gentrification of Brooklyn From the Perspective of a Brooklynite

A couple of years ago I heard of a project that would displace a couple thousand people to make way for a grandiose stadium.

People were being kicked out of their homes, in order to make way for high rise apartments and a place that people could play basketball.

But our basketball team sucks and certainly didn’t need another stadium because they had Madison square garden.

The Atlantic yards project a Project that would build high rises around the surrounding Atlantic-Pacific Area also gave birth to The Barclay’s center, home of the Brooklyn Nets…. Our first major sports team since the Dodgers abandoned us and high tailed it over to LA in 1957. I bet this made us think for a second….Yes, Brooklyn as we thought is the best

And for now it still is, but while Brooklyn has become more famous over the years, we have lost something in exchange for this fame.

…a fighting chance…

When you think Brooklyn you think urban. Loud Italian people, fuhgeddabouditcheesecake,hip hop, block parties, biggie smalls, west Indian day parades, culture. That’s why people from different walks of life come HERE.

It used to be Manhattan too, until the city under Giuliani in the mid 90’s decided they want to “clean up”, and develop . Now it’s overly priced, vapid, and devoid of anything but douchey nightclubs and places to shop.

Now it’s Brooklyn’s turn to develop which I’m just thinking is code for trail of tearsing anyone who lives near or below the poverty line out of that said developing neighborhood (…you know….minus the small pox blankets).

but if you weren’t aware, almost everyone lives near or below the poverty line in NYC there is no middle class it’s ridiculous. Thats because the prices for everything is inflated, the taxes are horrific, and if you moved outside of New york city even somewhere upstate, you’d be in the middle class believe it or not.

I look at it like this, I’ve lived in my neighborhood all my life…which is a sweet ass 24 years. People have been getting shot in the park across the street, shot in general, mugged, selling drugs for almost TWO AND A HALF DECADES and you know what I’ve never seen? Police presence.

That’s how you know when gentrification is happening, when police are around even when they aren’t called, even when no crimes are being committed. But they’re not here for you…they’re here to make sure Jaquan doesn’t bother Kelly on her late night dog walk…don’t get it twisted.

You see, when the Barclays center first arrived I said to myself…This is dope. I get to ride the bus 15 minutes/train 5 minutes and see Beyonce in concert.

Then the MTV awards came to Brooklyn and I said to myself… we’re all fucked.

The VMA’s solidified once and for all that my neighborhood would be under going  some drastic changes over the next few years… And then a phenomenon happened shortly after.

The eviction notices started to go out

Buildings began compiling list of people on rent control who were living possibly under another person’s lease. Threatening them with eviction if they:
Didn’t just simply move out or instead allow the complex to raise their rent to the prices that people not on rent control are paying.

This wasn’t a problem for these same people for at times 20+ years lived under another persons lease, but now that the property value in the area was steadily increasing…people started to see green.
Buildings began compiling lists of people on rent control in general and started making up bogus reasons to push them out.

Months of unpaid rent for example when the tenants had most definitely paid.

But the catch…in some cases these matters could be easily settled if the tenant allowed building owners to pay them a certain amount to simply just MOVE OUT.

Ladies and gentlemen…This is now Brooklyn this is now my home and corporate greed is spreading through this place like a fucking cancer and it makes me sick and livid and hungry…Yes, hungry.

Strange men coming to people’s door steps offering them money to buy out their homes that they’ve owned for decades and probably raised their families in. All for the purpose of turning the house, and jacking the price up so high that no one who lives in the neighborhood currently will be able to afford to live in it.

The Others….

People who have only lived here for like 3 years max… non native to Brooklyn white people specifically, CONSTANTLY speak of how the neighborhood can use development.

no need to be crass but… who the hell asked you? You just got here! You probably moved out of Manhattan because it was too expensive! Shut the hell up stay in your lane or move back to Manhattan where it’s developed enough for you. 

We don’t want gigantic unattractive buildings that don’t even match with anything else on the block, fucking up  OUR skyline… We have a style in this borough…Fall in or fall the fuck back.

Oh and It’s FLATBUSH not PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDENS

I don’t care what your realtor told you.

There’s a group of people I like to call “the others”and it’s not simply WHITE PEOPLE …. It’s White People who just moved here from somewhere else, most likely they weren’t even born in the tri-state area….some people call them hipsters… now most of them are, but some of them aren’t.

But the thing about them Is that most of them (not all) get priced out of their respective areas that they lived in prior to living here. Prime example: Williamsburg, where all the others flocked to initially until it was developed so much it became as vapid and cliche as Manhattan. High rises started to go up and people started to move out because they couldn’t afford to even shit there anymore, yet alone live…

So they Moved to Bushwick…Same thing Happened and it became apart of “East Williamsburg”

Then they Moved to BedStuy and its Happening there too

Then Crown Heights….The High Rises are beginning to go up

and Now Flatbush (not Prospect-Lefferts gardens), where there is a 22 story high-rise being constructed next to either a Keyfood/Associated? at the moment and 0% of it is affordable housing….so if you live in the neighborhood theres a good chance you cant even move in there.

Crown Heights/Flatbush is Home. Why? Because as a first generation Trinidadian-American its enshrouded in MY culture.

Caribbean culture. You walk down the streets of Flatbush/Crown Heights and you get all the foods, clothes, and music that you were raised on. You hear the accents that make you laugh and make your heart swell with pride…for your culture.

I don’t mind if the others move here… I think that’s cool.

Add a splash more diversity to our already diverse neighborhood…

I DO mind hearing little white girls telling their friends….”oh I live in Crown Heights, its a sketchy neighborhood”…. bitch shut up, you wouldn’t know sketch if it crawled up on you in broad daylight and beat you with a baseball bat.

You want sketch? Move to Brownsville.

Want sketch? Move to the Bronx.

But you wanted Sketch and Shine… Something to brag to your friends about. But somewhere that you felt confident that you wouldn’t get shot or mugged while jogging a few miles each day.

So you moved here… so fuck you, but I digress.
I REALLY MIND when they don’t respect the culture that’s been here longer than they have…

I don’t respect feeling as if their trying to push us out.

I don’t respect them acting as if we’re the stain…we’re the problem…Like Spike Lee said…     WE BEEN HERE.

and he wasn’t ranting….he was telling the truth, the others are just too fucking self centered and sensitive to see that.

And this rate…where are we supposed to go, if we’re not here?

…It’s scary.

 I felt compelled to have this guest post up. The author Kyle Elwin is a close friend of mine who I meet while attending the NYC performing arts high school Talent Unlimited. Kyle majored in Vocals and I majored in Musical Theater. Kyle has been experiencing first hand the gentrification in Brooklyn. I have been experiencing the same in Washington Heights and also wrote tow post on gentrification. https://quartervida.com/2013/06/06/im-not-racist-or-anything/  

 https://quartervida.com/2013/11/20/the-physical-manifestation-of-gentrification-ana-j-urena/ 

We understand that it is the cycle of the city, but the current “culture” is causing gentrification to occur at an all time high. It is a subject that we are both sensitive and passionate about.

a1

( Kyle and I ) 

a1

Need more Kyle in your life?

http://aphelliontsk.tumblr.com/

http://rhythmsoundandsites.blogspot.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/Sparkstarr

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18 Comments

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful and provocative post (or for posting Kyle’s). I enjoyed reading it and I appreciated your candor about what happens when other people move in. I also appreciated that you read my blog. I currently have a 22 year old Dominican student staying with me and her family moved from Brooklyn and eventually the Bronx to PA about seven years ago. She cannot wait to get back following graduation. I am looking forward to your next post.

  2. hoboduke

    I know the feeling of newcomers wanting to change the spirit and heritage of a neighborhood. As a refugee from Chicago, I had buddies and visited their German, Polish, Lithuanian, Italian neighborhoods. People sat on their front stair porch of their brick bungalow to yell out to neighbors. Ethnic bakeries, & restaurants, you could afford were for the real folks, not tourists. We are all different, and should enjoy the differences.

    • Thank you for reading! We should enjoy the differences that brought us together in the first place, not try to change them. True words.

  3. ok, OMG!! Like wow. I currently live in Orange County, NY but was born raised BK. This post was bananas. I don’t cuss, so the language was periodically strong but if I did it was placed right. lol
    Besides the language, the message was STRONG. How awesome of you to share your page and the more for choosing such a real deal. I chuckled at the part about the pro-ball team sucking so they don’t need another stadium since they already have MSG. But what’s happening is cause for somebody to be smacked. My parents are going through this here, but my mother is smart and got folks running with their tails between their legs. I miss those elements of Brooklyn that were named. I will certainly be reading your article on gentrification and more.

    • Thank you for reading! Yes, It is something that we should be comfortable to express our anger about. Controlled anger is what inspires possessive change. It’s what lets us know that something is wrong that should be corrected. Many people are going through the same thing who have no voice in the matter. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Looking forward to reading you posts!

  4. I’m from London, England (although I now live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates) and the same thing is happening over there. I grew up in areas like Brixton, Tottenham, Hackney, Wood Green and Stoke Newington and under the guise of gentrification we are seeing house prices going up and a general influx of a new demographic into the area.

    For us however it is a slightly more beneficial phenomena as there are certain government benefits for those unemployed so they do not lose their property and for those on lower incomes, their earnings are topped-up. These particular areas were full of shootings, stabbings drugs etc – I don’t expect this to stop anytime soon but at least there will be a higher police presence for those just trying to better themselves.

    Frank Regal

    • WOw, Thank you for sharing your story Frank! In some areas it is surely beneficial. The problem with police presence in New York City is that they like to target minorities and our prisons in the U.S are corporations. It is sad, but we have to choose the best of the worst in this country.

  5. I can certainly understand the pain of gentrification. Unfortunately, it is going to affect everyone. I lived down in the East Village for many years, and saw the first feeble attempts in the late 70s. I had to finally move when I married and we had a child. There was nothing affordable for a small family, even on two decent incomes. We now live up in Hamilton Heights and are experiencing the same thing. Luckily we had enough saved to buy into a HDFC that kind of saves us. I got spit at a lot walking up and down Broadway in the beginning. That was 10 years ago. Now that people know and see me with my son, I feel safer. Though the neighborhood is changing, now very rapidly, We welcome new shops that can cater to everyone. I see a plethora of Columbia students walking the streets, who couldn’t care less about the neighborhood, as they are transient. They have nothing invested.

    It’s sad.

    • Hello Keith! Thank you for sharing. I wish you and your family the best. It is sad. It is bittersweet in the beginning and the change happens so quickly its unbelievable. It’s very difficult to have to see it change before your very eyes.

  6. the new kids want for nothing
    and that’s what they deserve
    to change what strove before them
    without notice
    approaching curves
    there’s no appreciation
    of culture versus paid
    the justice comes “evenchly”
    restitutions to be made

    I lived in “Long-Guy-Land” City for a bit. A ‘friend’ bought some old “CLOSED” Brooklyn warehouses and turned them into Condos.
    ‘We’ are losing are HISTORY. ( But, so did the Chippewa and Algonquin.)
    You have a great place here. Do you sing any “Jass”?
    “D”

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It is sad, but its happening everywhere. I do sing jazz at the moment, but not as often as I would like to.

  7. Thanks, I’m learning more about gentrification. Even though I was reading, I could hear you speaking. Good!

  8. I moved to Brooklyn in 1974. I was married by the court clerk there, my daughter died at King’s County in 1976 and My son was born at Downstate in 1977. We left NY in late 1980. I don’t think I would want to see it when they get their hands on it. The diversity was what I loved. I am sorry to hear this.
    Bon courage et bonne chance!
    Léa

      • My ex-husband took me there and there were a number of reasons for leaving. Thank you and I wish you well.

  9. Reblogged this on the liminal lyricist and commented:
    The same thing is happening to Overtown, slowly but surely, and who can forget Carol City (now part of Miami Gardens). My mom’s in real estate so I was saying that term before anyone else was picking up on it.

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