When Caribbean Culture Meets Gentrification


[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Camilo José Vergara (City Lab) takes his camera to Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. As the editor explains, this is the latest installment of Vergara’s Crossroads project. Previous stories covered Newark’s Four Corners and the Bronx’s Hub. Here are excerpts; see full article and great photos at City Lab.

West Indian, African, African American, and Latino cultures converge at the intersection of Nostrand Avenue and Fulton Street in Brooklyn’s zip code 11216. This part of the borough’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is 86 percent black, making it New York City’s largest non-white community and the cultural center of Brooklyn’s African American population.

In spite of a wave of gentrification in recent years, Caribbean culture continues to dominate; Fulton Cultural sells special soaps and candles believed to ensure protection, prosperity, successful court cases, and love; Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery, whose motto is “Be Jamaican, Buy Jamaican,” displays the Jamaican flag above its entrance.

Within a block of the intersection along Fulton Street, a ten story residential building is nearing completion, and a vacant lot where the famous Slave 1 Theater (demolished in 2014) once stood is awaiting construction. Also on the intersection are two empty storefronts. One of them, Zim Entertainment Outlet sold African Movies and phone calling cards, the other Futa Toro, a gift shop named after a region around the Senegal River, sold clothing and bags. They were recently sold and will likely be upgraded to higher end retail stores.

A former Trini Roti is now a Jamaican jerk chicken restaurant. No pork products are sold at Abir Halal a popular Bangladeshi restaurant. Chung Market sells American and French products to a West Indian and Senegalese clientele. Le Paris Dakar, a French coffee shop known for its crepes, quiches, and omelettes, could be mistaken for a sign of gentrification but the proprietor is Senegalese. The six-year-old business is listed in BKLYNER as one of 37 Black owned coffee shops in the borough. [. . .]

[Camilo José Vergara is a photographer and the author of numerous books, most recently, Detroit Is No Dry Bones: The Eternal City of the Industrial Age (University of Michigan Press, 2016). His most recent writing on Detroit can be found at PublicBooks.org. More of his work can be found at camilojosevergara.com.]

For full article and great photos, see https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/06/when-caribbean-culture-meets-gentrification/562553/

One thought on “When Caribbean Culture Meets Gentrification

  1. I’m very familiar with the area. Gentrification has brought an odd tension to the area and many of the residents are dissatisfied with the changes that have come as a result of the gentrification. It’s a very interesting topic for discussion…

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