A café in the increasingly gentrified Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City’s Brooklyn borough is looking real funny in the light after reportedly refusing to give candy to black children who came in to trick-or-treat on Halloween.
The Strand Cafe is located at 492 Nostrand Avenue in the heart of historically black Bed-Stuy. Oma Holloway—co-chair of Community Board 3 and chair of the CB3 Education and Youth Committee—told King County Politics that she and fellow CB3 board member Michael Catlyn were in the café waiting for food late in the afternoon on Halloween when they witnessed two young black children come in for trick or treat.
When the children approached the counter, the barista told them that the café did not have any more candy, so the middle schoolers politely left the café. Shortly after, a black mother came in with her two children, and the barista once again said that the café did not have any candy. This encounter was followed by two young black girls coming in and being told that the café did not participate in the holiday.
Holloway said that when a white mother showed up with her two children, the barista produced a jar of candy from behind the counter and began giving it to the children.
Holloway and her companion had seen enough. They approached the barista, and Holloway said to him: “You got to be kidding me. Little black kids walk in and you don’t have candy for them, but you have candy for the white kids. This is unacceptable, here or anywhere.”
Holloway and Catlyn left the café. Holloway took pictures of it, then had her 11-year-old daughter and a few kids from the neighborhood stand in front of the café and pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.
KCP reached out to the café to get an explanation, but there was no answer. Holloway told KCP that the situation is not unfamiliar and is something that is happening increasingly in the neighborhood as trendy shop owners move in.
“I’m on the community board and I understand he doesn’t have to participate [in Halloween festivities], but to do something so blatantly discriminatory, this is not acceptable, and as a patron I’m not accepting it,” Holloway said. She also noted that none of the black children who came in trick-or-treating acted rambunctious or disrespectful in any way.
“There’s too much stress about new businesses coming in and not treating us right. There’s so many issues with these businesses and gentrification,” she added.
Instead of reacting with anger, Holloway said that she chose to use the incident as an opportunity to start educating some of the new people and businesses coming in to the area.
“There needs to be a dialogue, and the [New York City] Commission on Human Rights should come into communities. If you’re new to the community, there needs to be a level of respect on both ends, and we have to start holding businesses accountable on all levels, and if they’re uncomfortable about doing that, it’s a problem,” Holloway said.
Read more at Kings County Politics.