Once upon a time in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn… A bodega once stood at 673 Nostrand Avenue. After remaining a vacant lot for an extensive period of time, it now has become one of the most shameless examples of gentrification in the neighborhood and borough to date. Becca Brenman, a “reformed corporate tax attorney,” from Toronto opened her “Summerhill” restaurant in June. Becca Brenman is selling her restaurant to gentrifiers by concocting up little hood myths about what went on in the bodega that once stood in her shitty restaurant/bar. BECKY Brenman was selling cosmetic damage as a “bullet-hole ridden wall.” Becky admitted to Gothamist that she didn’t know if the holes were from bullets but she used a comment posted anonymously on a community website about the building as historical fact. Allegedly, there was an illegal gun shop ran in the back of the bodega. On top of this fraudulent shit, she’s selling “Forty Ounce Wine” that resembles the cheap malt liquor forties people in the hood grew up drinking. Out of what? Brown paper bags. If you’re from the hood, you know damn well those brown paper bags are supposed to conceal the forties so cops don’t stop to make us pour the drink out and/or fine our asses for public drinking.
I grew up in Crown Heights for almost seven years, Utica & Sterling to be exact. Gun shots were of the norm for me throughout my childhood. I had to sit down on the floor because my father was scared stray bullets were going to spray through the windows of my bedroom. 1470 was the building next to me and it was REALLY BULLET-HOLE RIDDEN. How dare you open a restaurant in a neighborhood filled with oppressed nationalities and use the violence that stems from our poverty as a theme for your little trash ass restaurant? You and your little gentrifiers want to sneer at us when we walk around as if we don’t belong there and complain about us, but commodify our struggles? The same struggles you couldn’t survive in? How can you shamelessly employ the stereotypes that you even would sell those fake ass forties out of brown paper bags? After neighborhood locals dragged her racist, colonial ass she wanted to apologize as if she didn’t mean it “THAT WAY,” BUT we don’t believe you, you need more people. So what way did you mean it? You knew exactly what you were doing when you were trying to sell this yuppie hood oasis to your little yuppie friends that walk up and down Nostrand now. Cut the bullshit, Becky.
#Artisans and Brooklyn’s own, iR8 (pronounced eye-rate), releases his first single off of his anticipated project, “36 Ways To Paradise.” Produced by Thundaa, “God Complex” is easily a tale of the black man’s plight living in the United States of AmeriKKKa. iR8 highlights the disparities of black and white in a nation that was built off the backs of cheap African labor, which continues to thrive through institutionalized racism. With the use of insightful lyricism, iR8 addresses poverty, incarceration,and harsh living, as well as the white supremacy ideology that is the “god complex.” “God Complex” is a clear-cut listen that is sure to resonate with us.
Listen to iR8 address the “God Complex” below:
There’s this long running joke that spans through the hoods facing gentrification through NYC. If a Starbucks pops up, the neighborhood is lost. Sort of like when people say “there goes the neighborhood,” when black people move into predominately white neighborhoods. Bed Stuy and Bushwick are two neighborhoods that have been infiltrated by yuppies and their bourgeois art shows, trash pizzerias, bike stores, bars and weak ass coffee shops. Standing at 774 Broadway is Fat Albert’s Warehouse, a store that borders Bed Stuy and Bushwick. Fat Albert’s Warehouse is all that’s right with a discount store. From over-the-counter products to clothing to appliances and household items, Fat Albert’s got you for dirt cheap! Growing up in Sumner Projects, I’ve always known the greatness that is Fat Albert’s Warehouse. Hearing that Fat Albert’s Warehouse is soon to be replaced by STARBUCKS, is hearing a nail being hammered into a coffin for both Bed Stuy and Bushwick. To soften the blow, Starbucks is saying this location will be a “community store” that will offer job training for 16-to-24 year olds currently out of school. I CALL BULLSHIT. The people of Bed Stuy and Bushwick don’t need your shitty, overpriced coffee. There’s about 4 bodegas in that area serving coffee that’s way tastier and cheaper than what you have. All the Puerto Ricans on Graham Ave are drinking Cafe Bustelo. As far as your “community service,” you’re only training young, poor teens and adults to work for businesses that will continue to steal their labor in return for cheap wages that are impossible to live on. Your “community service” is not enough when we are being displaced out of the same community you’re getting ready to cash out in. Can those 16-to-24 year olds take those checks and go rent themselves one of those little luxury apartments popping up on Broadway? NO, NIGGA! Don’t try to act as if you care about the people who have long felt at home in Bed Stuy and Bushwick. I want to give a big FUCK YOU to the representative of the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, for vouching for this particular location as a “smart choice” due to Woodhull Hospital being directly across the streets and the “influx of young professionals.” Young professionals as in yuppies, right? GTFOH and keep your shitty, dark roast.
Its been a long time coming but its finally happening. This blog was something that came out of a political position of mine as a person born and bred in the beloved borough of Brooklyn. I was born in Park Slope, raised in Flatbush, Crown Heights, AND Bed Stuy, now living in Brownsville. Brooklyn and the entire NYC culture was curated out of the struggles faced by poor oppressed nationalities. From playing skully to eating dollar slices and fries to our lingo, our style, the music and visual art we curate, its all been shaped by our struggle. We took the very little we had and created things that brought us joy. As African descendants, our struggle has been painful and gruesome. Taken from coasts, facing brutality, illness and death from the Middle Passage to the plantations, our labor was stolen to build the capitalist mode of production, especially in the Western world. The consequences of chattel slavery have been long-lasting for black people in the diaspora. The Civil Rights movement saw black liberation groups fighting against capitalism, racism, and for self-determination for the black nation. With the fall of the Civil Rights movement, Hip Hop was born right here in New York City; the borough of the Bronx to be exact. Hip Hop was a creative outlet during a time when gang violence, police brutality, and drug addiction was prevalent in the hoods of New York City. Rap music has for a long time addressed the material conditions of the hood and gave us tales about our struggle. It has made us dance, cry, and relate to the music. Fast forward 30 years later, Hip Hop has lasted way longer than its critics (white supremacists and respectable blacks) expected it would. Hip Hop is still a young culture developing year-by-year. Its amazing what was born out of NYC.. Unfortunately the people who make NYC great are being displaced by out-of-towners. The culture and people are vanishing while being replaced with entitled yuppies who oftentimes are walking embodiment of settler colonialism. Businesses, homes, people…. all going. The gritty character of NYC still remains but block-by-block, there’s reminders of what is happening to our city everyday. Growing up in NYC, the struggle of being black and poor shaped my character into what it is now. Hip Hop was my solace through my life’s burdens and still is. I want to give back as best as I can to the culture and most importantly, my community; a platform for curators of NYC.