The Face of NYC…

…is white. Probably with bottle blonde hair, but they may be a brunette. Green eyes. Light skin that can tan easily when they lie in Strawberry Fields (if you are a true New Yorker, you know where that is).

Gentrification is everywhere. It’s all over Brooklyn, but now I feel even more threatened because apparently, the whitewashing is spreading to Queens.

Let’s rewind. My aunt lives in Bed-Stuy. My mom and aunt grew up there like, in the Stone Age (I love joking about their ages). It was the ‘hood. Fast-forward to 2012. I practically stayed in my aunt’s apartment all summer because she has a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline. I walk out of her apartment building, and I see whites. Whites in gym shorts. Whites in business suits. Whites walking their dogs. Whites coming out of buildings that used to belong to blacks. Where did those blacks go? Out of town? In the shelter system?

Fast-forward again to this summer. I see whites in East New York – a place I never thought I’d see whites. Hey! They’re dispersed throughout Brooklyn, I guess. Then a few weeks later, I read an article in amNY that says the demand for luxury apartment buildings in Jackson Heights has risen. Jackson Heights? Are you for real?? Then, new buildings start going up in my own stomping ground, Jamaica. Luxury buildings. I grew up in Jamaica, and I must say that I have never seen so many whites walking up and down Hillside. I’m not saying there’s an army of them – but they are there. Then I read about the “poor door,” and I now just cannot deal with life. Then I sit in my Human Behavior and the Social Environment class. The professor says that neighborhoods are changing in NYC – he says that even public housing is drying up. Yes, the projects are still there, but with Section 8 running out, people will be forced out. He even said they’ll probably turn those buildings into condos. Condos! I can’t imagine the 40 Projects in South Jamaica becoming condos.

So what will I do? Get a masters degree, become a clinical social worker, make a pretty decent salary and probably live in one of these luxury apartments. Because I will be making the money to afford one. However, other people that look like me cannot live in these buildings. Pieces of paper we call degrees separate me from a lot of people who look just like me.

            So, I might be living next to The Face of NYC one day.  

(I wrote this post after complaining about gentrification to my mother one day. The last paragraph and sentence in this post? Those were inspired by my mom’s words: “Well, you’re going to grad school to compete with the white man. You can live next to them one day, if you want. You’ll have the money. Money talks.”)

xx

Where are the girls?

Boko Haram is still on the loose, correct? However, it seems like the world has forgotten about these girls and the others who have been kidnapped by this sexist, extremist group of people. When articles do appear about Boko Haram in the paper, they’re small articles that are placed towards the middle of the paper (yes I still read newspapers. Don’t judge me). Don’t get me wrong. I know there are other major things going on, like the US trying to stop ISIS. Gentrification in NYC. Murders. Rapes. Educational woes. Political woes. Ebola. I get it. However, we have to realize: a few months ago, everyone wanted to #bringbackourgirls. What happened? Only a few came back. And others were kidnapped later on. I know some members of the group have been arrested since then, but these girls were still sold off into marriage and forced to convert to Islam, allegedly. I guess we forgot to bring back the rest of our girls.  

xx

Too Smart for Me

The other day, a man on the subway noticed that I was reading (This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz). Of course, a man is always going to be a man, so random men leering at me or approaching me on the subway/bus/street is nothing new to me (no, I am not bragging. It can actually be frustrating at times – street harassment is degrading, in my opinion).  This guy seemed different at first. He seemed genuinely interested in the fact that I was absorbed in that book (side note: he approached me after I closed it to take a break. If he had interrupted me, I would have given him the side eye. And cursed him out in my head. You know how many people I do that to on a regular basis? You don’t know what’s going on in my head lol). I appreciated that. I respected that. I thought that he was truly different. After we talked for a bit – mind you, he didn’t mention any books he had read, the focus was on me – he asked me if I was a freshman in community college or something (SIGH). I told him no – I already graduated from a “Little Ivy” college this past May (I try really hard to give Trinity it’s props lol) and I am now going to Fordham University for graduate studies in social work. Upon graduation, MSW will be at the end of my name, and after I take a licensing exam, I will be a LMSW (and after a couple of years I aspire to be a LCSW). After I explained all of this to him, he seemed flabbergasted. I was confused at his reaction. He then said, “Damn. I wasn’t expecting you to be all of that. You too smart for me,” and then got off at the next stop. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his stop.

            After analyzing this situation in my head for a couple of days, I’m still trying to figure out if that was a joke. Seriously. I mean, if it was a joke, he would have remained on the train, correct? He got up and left, looking dismayed. I couldn’t believe it. I am ‘too smart’ for him.  

            What is wrong with a sister getting her education? I am trying to make a better life for my future family and myself. Saying that to me really saddened me. He wasn’t expecting me to say that I was getting a masters degree. He probably couldn’t believe I went straight though four years at a college (remember – he didn’t ask if was I a freshman in college. He asked if I was a freshman in a community college). Within a few minutes of meeting me, he automatically placed me in a box, but I broke out of that box. Once I did, he didn’t know how to handle it. I guess he couldn’t comprehend how a young black woman could be working on her masters. Hm. I see elements of both sexism and racism in his statement (I can imagine the thought process in his head: “Blacks don’t get masters degrees…and you’re a woman? Yeah, right.”) That’s quite sad. Honestly…I don’t know how else to say it. It’s just sad. And it shows me his senseless way of thinking.

But we cannot lump all men in the same box…the average man would more than likely respond in a positive manner. They say there’s plenty of fish in the sea…I just bumped into one rotten fish.  

xx

"I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself."
- Rita Mae Brown (via kushandwizdom)
"There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you."
- C. JoyBell C. (via kushandwizdom)

the-beauty-of-words-blog:

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vintageblackglamour:

A member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. From The Guardian:
The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

vintageblackglamour:

A member of the African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. From The Guardian:

The African Choir were a group of young South African singers that toured Britain between 1891 and 1893. They were formed to raise funds for a Christian school in their home country and performed for Queen Victoria at Osborne House, a royal residence on the Isle of Wight. At some point during their stay, they visited the studio of the London Stereoscopic Company to have group and individual portraits made on plate-glass negatives. That long-lost series of photographs, unseen for 120 years, is the dramatic centrepiece of an illuminating new exhibition called Black Chronicles II.

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images