Not My Childhood's Brooklyn

The gentrification taking place in this New York City borough inspired Chika Dunu to write a piece for Ebony lamenting the fact that her neighborhood has changed. 

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The gentrification taking place in New York City's borough of Brooklyn inspired Chika Dunu to write a piece for Ebony lamenting the fact that her neighborhood has changed. She notes that the gentrification sends many negative messages to native Brooklynites.

I am a Brooklyn native. Born and raised. I’m too young to have partied with Rosie Perez at Wesley Snipes' parties that are said to have envied Diddy's; old enough to remember the East vs. West Coast beef starring Biggie and Tupac and the funeral of the former, which brought Brooklynites young and old to the streets in mourning. And now, old enough to witness neighborhoods change aesthetically and financially at a time when I'm thinking quite seriously about where I might live and raise my own family.

African hair braiding spots, West Indian restaurants with smells that‘d detour you from an original destination, barbershops you’d avoid walking by due to the cat-calls of men further emboldened by the confidence of a fresh line-up, bodegas that made a serious hero sandwich, dirty streets and overflowing trash cans. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was my ‘hood -- held together with culture and imperfection.

My Brooklyn was the outline of hopscotch sketched into sidewalks with colored chalk; loud chants of “arrreee-youuuu-readyyyy-readyyy-steaddyy…” and double-dutch battles. It was water ferociously pouring from fire hydrants; late nights sitting on the trunk of someone’s hoopty; the sounds of ambulance, police sirens combined with lilting accents.  It wasn’t the Brooklyn of Lena Dunham‘s Girls, a post Sex and the City​ mini-Manhattan. In fact, they avoided it at all cost. It wasn’t trendy based off real estate and infrastructure, but was cool because Biggie said it was. Hell, it was cool just because. We said so.

Read Chika Dunu's entire piece at Ebony magazine.

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