I am a person, another memory found.

As you may have read in my previous blog, I have been organizing my closet. Here I will post a poem that I wrote for a journal entry assignment in one of my education courses on the 24th of October in 2013.

I am the person who likes to try new things, to talk, to dance, to eat. 

I am the person who can make a positive from a negative

I am the person who likes to be social, sleep, swim, tan, live freely, fly on airplanes, travel. 

I am the person who cannot sing, but loves music, R&B, HipHop, Bachata, Merengue Tipico, Reggae, Pop, Alternative Rock, Dubstep

I am the person who sometimes wishes things were different, who dreams for change who wishes we did not have to age, who is writing on this page. 

I am the person who hears the cries for help, whose heart melts when I feel pain, who wants to gain a fulfilling life. 

I am the person who needs more sleep because ‘she works, she comes from little financially, but gives big, gives her all!’

I am person who gets tired, who gets energy, and dreams.

I am a person. 

Bloggers, finding this written word, this history of my own, has been so inspiring. Please never stop journaling, it’s like when you find an old letter from your friend who wrote you in military boot camp, or sleep away camp or when traveling overseas. Except, it’s like a letter to yourself!! As we get older, many memories escape us, keep them forever. That’s a story you’ll always be able to tell! 

xo.

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Finding Memories

Yesterday, I began a “Winter” cleaning of my closet before I head to Madrid, Spain for 3 months. When I first moved in with my boyfriend, his apartment was a bare, bachelor’s pad. I flooded it with so many of my belongings and it’s only right for me to give him some more space since I will be abroad for 3 months. Not only that, I really need to get rid of so many clothes, and materials that make our small home, cluttered!!

I put on some bachata, and began to organize! As I was emptying a hamper that was filled with notebooks and textbooks from my first two years of college, I found journal entries, essays and assignments that I am so glad I kept! (Don’t worry, I got rid of a lot of it, so the goal of cleaning was accomplished lol)

Memories really do last on paper, I found a journal entry assignment from one of my education or writing courses dated, 17 October 2013.FullSizeRender-6 The assignment was to write about a memory for 15 minutes. We had to describe it and could not stop writing before the 15 minutes was up. It reads,

“I remember when I first moved to Brooklyn during the end of Summer 2010. Being born in Brooklyn, but growing up in Suffolk County, Long Island and then moving to Atlanta from the ages of 14-17 was such a huge transition. In reality, I was a suburbs girl. I lived in the suburbs from before I was a year old and until my last few months before turning 18. I bought the ticket in haste and decided to attend St. Johns University. However, I ended up not being able to go because the tuition was too expensive and it wasn’t worth it to me. 

Backtrack to when I was packing to move to NYC, I bought three large suit case. I remember staring at my room. ‘What should I bring?’ I thought. I remember one of the first things I packed was my high school diploma, I recall being so anxious to graduate high school. At the time, I was so happy to move forward unaware of what my future would look like. 

I sorted through piles and piles of clothes and miscellaneous items such as books, jewlrey, old homework assignments, shoes, DVDs. Packing was not fun, I also remember being frustrated because since I was flying each ‘maleta’ (suitcase) can only weigh 50 lb. It was so annoying! Eventually, I packed everything. I hugged my siblings tight and headed to the airport with my mom and best friend Crystal. 

I remember the drive to the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. It was a short drive, but it seemed like a long, slow drive. We pulled into the Delta terminal, I kissed my best friend’s cheek, hugged my Mom tight and stood with my luggage to check in. As my best friend and Mom drove off, I waved watching the wheels roll away from me.

It was a sunny, partially cloudy day. I didn’t feel sad, I was excited to leave Atlanta, start a life in New York. I did not know what to expect, I was not a country girl, but I certainly was not accustomed to the life in the city. I barely knew how to use public transportation 3 years ago!”

Well, now I have lived in NY for a bit over 5 years, my new cherished degree is my Bachelor’s and I can definitely say I am an expert in public transportation, ha! Thanks to google maps, I conquered the transit system. I have traveled to so many parts of Brooklyn and the city, that people who live here their entire life never even traveled. Quite odd, but it is the reality of some.

In all, I was just really happy that I recorded this memory, because I do not think I could retell this memory the same way, had I not had it written down. I thank that professor, and I thank myself for keeping my notebooks. I knew I would go through them one day and I finally began.

Keep your memories, keep a journal, written word is comforting, enchanting and rare in our modern world. It’s amazing how writing your thoughts will transform your future. 

xo.

Pensive 

It’s quite amazing how we can feel so alone, but surrounded by some who truly care. The actuality of the matter is no one can take care of YOU, the way YOU can. 

I work so hard to make a better future for myself, but it gets so discouraging when you don’t have all of the support you need. Yes, I am so fortunate to be where I am in life, but I feel like there are barriers. These barriers are toxic and I have to dig so deep below earth’s surface to cool off, and find a different path. I have to utilize the resources I have, while suffering from the ones I don’t. 

I am not writing this to be pessimistic about the world. I am not writing this to be angry at the systematic marginizaltion I suffer do to my socio economic status. 

I write this because to find stability, I cannot just take time to enjoy the “simple” things in life from being so tired of interning, studying and tutoring. Working 7 days a week is a choice, but at the same time I feel like it’s forced otherwise I end up unable to pay for my necessities. I’m like a puppet trying to break free. I want this to end, but if I give up where would I be? 

My driven personality is due to my survival instincts, a poor that isn’t so poor. A hunger where it’s not only from your stomach, but your mind because you just whole heartedly want a better life in a place that says if you work hard you will succeed…they forgot to mention it’s an ongoing thing when you come from my neck of the woods. 

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (A MUST READ children’s book)

As I was on a social media site, a close friend and academic colleague of mine, posted a page from this book. The picture book displayed the text “Indigenous and Immigrant,” these words caught my attention at first sight. It did not cross my mind that this picture book was for children under the age of 10, or 5! In fact, I could hardly believe it was a picture book at all. As a child of the mid/late 90’s and early 2000’s, I did not hear these words read to me nor read it outside of a history text book. My search began, to learn more about this picture book!

I immediately googled the title and author and found this site to hear the read aloud on a youtube video. http://www.aisforactivist.com/a-is-for-activist-english/

It is only a 7 minute video, and the depth of this book is amazing, it touches on everything from feminism to Malcolm X, and more! Each letter of the alphabet does not mention your repetitive apple, ball and zebra protocol, rather a radical text to create true critical thinkers for all.

To have the opportunity to share such important factors of our rapidly changing society at a young age, fills me with much happiness. As a child, I did not have this opportunity, but the progression we are making proves to me, that the fight for equality will eventually win.

Our stories must be told for everyone to hear, share this with a loved one, even your toddler to help create a better world for all.

Much love xoxo

A never ending puzzle 

As I ride the train, sometimes the most random memories travel through me. I remember when I first moved to Brooklyn and the choices I had made as a 17 year old turning 18 and a 19 year old. It’s amazing how the teenage brain believes it’s decisions are the utmost best choices one can make. The confusion our young minds go through searching for “love,” happiness and success. 

Even though I am only 22 years old, who will be 23 this Fall. I can see the change that has taken place in the four and half years of my life. Some of my goals gave remained the same and have also progressed. I notice that my first “adult” relationship as a teenager was far from what was right. Don’t get me wrong I put certain things first and certainly ended it when I was able to see what little of a future I truly had if I chose to settle with a soul that was not intertwined with mine. In reality, I guess what I look back at are my actions once I became single. 

I began to value the single life, but not for myself. I still continued to put others before me and leaned the hard way to truly be comfortable in my own skin. I focused on school, but allowed the world of dating, partying and materials things to surround me. How I wish I would have been more wise in my spending habits and other daily choices. 

I know what you’re thinking, you’re still young! Yes, I am! Although, it is hard to get into the groove of consistently making choices that will benefit you even if the outcome is not everything you want. Now with only one semester left until I earn my Bachelor’s Degree I continue to reflect on the beginning of this journey. As I search for the road to take in pursuing the rest of my career, so many thoughts flood my mind. The thoughts are more so questions; like, what will give me the outcome I want, what will allow me a network of valuable resources? It’s a shame I could not have a handbook to answer my every thought, but I guess that is what experience is all about. 

I won’t share my future plans just yet, but I took the time to write this post because as an adult you just really never have it all figured out. Life while we live it, is just a never ending puzzle, constantly putting pieces together without the cover to guide you. You must reflect and move forward towards what ever your goals are of the moment. 

“Los Sures” Southside, Williamsburg

Place Based Assignment- “Los Sures” Southside, Williamsburg

As a resident of Brooklyn for only a few years it is so fascinating to walk into different ethnic enclaves. When I walk through “Los Sures,” I see tattered Puerto Rican flags hanging from windows and hear thick Puerto Rican or Dominican accents fill the streets. When I enter the bodega I see a cat sitting on top of the loaves of bread taking his siesta. My body begins to move to the beat of bachata booming through the speakers. Just outside of the bodega, I hear two men shouting at one another about the lottery back in DR and I chuckle looking at the transnational lives of the people in Los Sures. I see abuelas looking out their windows, I notice one shouts at a young man to come up to eat. I see young kids running and jumping off their stoops while their parents chat on this Saturday afternoon. As I walk down Havemeyer St., South 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Avenues, I notice many Dominican beauty salons, but many small restaurants and bars filled with non-Hispanic families dining in. I can feel in the air and see with my eyes, the roots of this area being pulled and twisted.

The neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn has a rich history of immigrants. In the late 19th century it first homed many working class Irish and German families. By the turn of the turn of the twentieth century many Italians and European Jews had entered the space of Williamsburg. Then when World War II ended, Hasidic Jews made Williamsburg their home, Who came next? By the 1950s and 1960s there was an influx of Puerto Rican immigrants in the area (Curran, 1428). Many of these Puerto Ricans were living in South Williamsburg, but many Latinos of the area refer to it as, Los Sures meaning the Southside. Southside Latin@s live in close proximity to many Hasidic Jews up to S. 9th St.  Historically, Los Sures was one of the most poorest parts of the New York City. In Diego Echeverria’s documentary, “Los Sures” which takes place in 1984, he documents 5 Southside Latin@s lives. It was a time when the neighborhood was experiencing high unemployment rates, inadequate apartment buildings, few public resources, violence and drug use was extremely common. It is important to note in this documentary that residents of the neighborhood wanted to leave (Calderón-Douglass). I have yet to meet someone living in Williamsburg in 2015 that actually wants to really leave the neighborhood and not come back. This could be due to the fact that there is, “frequent conflict over the area’s now-limited supply of affordable housing as the neighbourhood’s population continues to grow,” (Curran, 1428). Since the late 80s artists have been moving in to find cheaper rent which catalyzed the growth of the population. Calderón-Douglass interviews Echeverria in 2014 asking him, “When did the neighborhood really start to change?” He replied, “The late 80s. I remember that by then there were several artists moving in. This is not something that happened from one moment to another.” This is extremely important to take into account, because this trend towards gentrification did not take place overnight.

According to the census, in 1990 the median income of Williamsburg ranged from $25,000-$55,000, with the Los Sures area having the lowest incomes (See pictures A-C). As the years continue to pass the median income is ever rising. Correspondingly the demographics of the Williamsburg area continues to change. “The 2000 census shows the neighbourhood to be 41 percent White, 43.6 percent Hispanic and 5.7 percent African American,” (Curran, 1428). By 2010 there has a been a -20-39.99% change of the Hispanic population just in the North and Southside of Williamsburg, (nyc.gov). There is a rapid increase of gentrification that is causing many Latino families in the neighborhood to become displaced. In Paul Moses’ article, “Gentrification. Who Wins, Who Loses?” he presents an extremely valid argument about how newcomers are approaching Los Sures. He writes, “Williamsburg’s impoverished Southside has been “discovered” by the same breed of “pioneers”—as many insist on putting it—who turned Williamsburg’s neighboring Northside into a hip artsy enclave…” (10). Even though the Southside consisted of many poor and working class families, it is not as if they are not human’s who have been living in these spaces. Southside, Williamsburg is far from vacant and newer residents need to keep this in mind. They should be aware that, “this gentrification comes at the price of displacing poorer people who have stuck it out through the high-crime years,” (Moses, 11). Even with crime and disheveled buildings, the lives of Los Sures residents may have seemed broken down, but there were still souls living in this neighborhood. These working class families should not be socially excluded because even with many economic changes there are many Puerto Ricans who are still living there, and other Hispanic groups such as Dominicans still surviving the streets of Los Sures. Although, many are being pushed out of the neighborhood, the history of Los Sures needs to be maintained.

I am very pleased to learn that UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art is producing an expansive documentary to pay homage to those who are being displaced or who have been in Los Sures for many years. They also have held screenings of Echeverria’s 1984 documentary throughout the neighborhood, to continue the legacy of Latin@s living in Los Sures. Equally important, I had the opportunity to converse with a Puerto Rican woman named Zulma* who moved to Los Sures in 1965. That’s 50 years! She explained to me how since 2007, a lot of her neighbors have moved to Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. She further discussed how they could not afford the rent because, “the Whites are constantly renovating and charging three times what they have used to pay.” She remembers when she first came here there were so many Boricuas and not that many Dominicans and now it is the reverse, plus the Whites. She began to chuckle as she related how even the bodegas are all owned by Dominicans or even Arabs now. Zulma’s facial expression began to sadden as she continued to share with me. She said, “These Americans are putting clubs everywhere and you know Havemeyer St.? I used to be able to buy everything I needed, shoes, clothes for children and now I have to travel even further.” It was interesting to see her view about the restaurants and how one young Latino man sitting on his stoop shared with me, “It’s getting better in this area because the White people are coming opening bars and clubs close to my home. They are making the neighborhood better and it’s okay because if you live here you’re entire life you get to see the change.” This saddened me that he was unaware or didn’t care that gentrification was displacing his own people. When you are young it is easy to travel and go out, but he should keep in mind the future of the area and not focus only only on the “good.” In comparison, I liked how Zulma compared Los Sures to the village, she said this place is like the neighborhood of the village, since the rent is too much in Manhattan. Which is true, many were first coming to Williamsburg for lower rents. Although, now it’s almost as if this rapid increase of non-working class people are invading Los Sures working class families.

Zulma did not keep her saddened face for long, she began to smile as she told me about a yearly get together many old residents of Los Sures have for a reunion. She even invited me to it, telling me it is in July and that it is the third year they have organized it. She said she is getting older now, but she likes to see all the Latin@ families throwing parties in the street with the kids running around. She misses how everyone used to watch out for one another, but the Domincan families keep to themselves often, so it’s not the same. This was interesting since non-Latin@s would look at us the same. Zulma told me how she cooks for the reunion, even though she stays upstairs for most of it. This is because she is on a third floor apartment without an elevator, she tried to get a lower floor apartment, but her rent would increase by thousands. Zulma continues to tell me she has many children and grandchildren so they often come and visit her, some live with her, so she is never really alone. She said most of the neighbors know me, except the newer ones they aren’t as friendly. Additionally, Zulma explained to me how Williamsburg may have had a lot of gang violence, but everyone knew each other and she feels that the streets today are just as dangerous. She says this because she feels even though gangs aren’t causing problems like back then, no one looks out for one another like they used to. She blames the White Americans, since they are only building the apartments for people with money.

Furthermore, she even mentioned the high school, El Puente Academy for Justice and Peace. She thought there should be more high schools like that, to keep Latin@s here. Getting their education here, going to college but returning to help us. What stood out the most to me was when she told me how Los Sures isn’t united, this country isn’t, it separates us. “All of my children were raised here, and the majority of them left, that’s what this country does to us…Even though I don’t pay as much rent as others in this building but I suffer because I see the division and I know eventually my kids won’t have my house to always come to…”  Zulma has lived in Los Sures so long and she cannot deny the change, her account made me realize how fortunate she is to not have to be displaced. Of course, there are others like the young man who told me he was happy that it was changing, but it is vital to “recognize the danger that apartments will be priced beyond their reach; that the local companies where they work will be forced out by higher rents,” (Moses, 10). Just as Zulma mentioned, many of the stores that she once used to shop at are gone due to restaurants and bars and mainly because, “their space has become attractive to developers who convert lofts into residences,” (Curran, 1428). More and more residences are being built, but not to accommodate the warriors who have been able to survive Los Sures for many years.

More people need to challenge that the poor are not being made visible enough in Los Sures. I look forward to seeing UnionDocs, “Living Los Sures 1984 and Today,” because that is an important factor in keeping the history alive, they call it a “people’s history.” The “renewal” of Los Sures should expand to both poor and working class families. Critical dialogue of this ethnic enclave is needed, because the Hispanic percentage is continuing to drop in this part of Brooklyn. In all, I look forward to attending a block party or two in Los Sures. I hope the Latino roots of Los Sures remain and never become detached.

*Name has been changed

“The maps below show how much Williamsburg has changed since 1990. Darker color corresponds with higher income.

The map below shows Williamsburg in 1990. Median incomes ranged from $25,000 to $55,000 in 2012 dollars.

[Picture A]

williamsburg-census-incomeA

Screenshot/U.S. Census

By 2000, median incomes near the waterfront and around the Bedford L stop had reached $47,000 to $70,000.

[Picture B]

williamsburg-census-income-1B

Screenshot/U.S. Census

And most recently, in 2012, incomes have reached $87,000 on the waterfront and $53,000 to $80,000 in other parts of north Williamsburg

williamsburg-census-income-2C

[Picture C]

Screenshot/U.S. Census

And here’s the key:

Screenshot/U.S. Census” (Engel).

 

Works Cited

 

Calderón-Douglass, Barbara. “‘Los Sures’ Gives Us a Glimpse of South Williamsburg’s Roots | VICE | United States.” VICE. N.p., 6 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.

Curran, Winifred. “‘From The Frying Pan To The Oven’: Gentrification And The Experience Of Industrial Displacement In Williamsburg, Brooklyn.” Urban Studies (Routledge) 44.8 (2007): 1427-1440. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Engel, Pamela. “The Gentrification Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn In 3 Maps.”Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

“LIVING LOS SURES – Documentary Film, Radio, Photography | Presentation + Production | Williamsburg, Brooklyn.” Documentary Film Radio Photography Presentation + Production Williamsburg Brooklyn LIVING LOS SURES Comments. N.p., 09 Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

Moses, Paul. “Gentrification.” Commonweal 133.11 (2006): 10-11. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

“Welcome to NYC.gov | City of New York.” Welcome to NYC.gov | City of New York. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

My taxi ride this morning 

On my way to work this morning, I rode in a taxi. The radio was playing a Spanish radio station of NYC. They were discussing the territory of Puerto Rico. Now mind you, I’m wearing my hair in a hijab not because I’m Muslim or so, cause I wear one when I don’t do my hair. So when I asked the driver to raise the volume, he was surprised and asked if I spoke Spanish…if I didn’t understand why would I ask to raise the volume? Even if I didn’t maybe I am learning and like the language…but then again people constantly stereotype. Anywho, he asks where I’m from, I begin to say I’m Puerto Rican and then he yells at me and tells me I’m American. Since I was not born in Puerto Rico, he also had the audacity to judge my Spanish. It is so sickening…languages do not define us completely. If SPAIN had not colonialized my ancestors I would not even speak Spanish or English. Language is imposed on us in this country and I really was quite upset because he was trying to label me an US American and subtract my Afro Latinidad. Yes, legally I am a citizen and born here, but I’m an outcast because of my skin and surname, because my ancestors were and are a “threat” to white supremacy. It is a shame how the colonial mindset plagues us every day 😦 even when it comes to describing your own identity. 

In all, I just hate how people just judge you and try to identify you by the way you look or even speak. I went to Anglo American schools all my life of course my English may be better than my Spanish, they don’t want us to have the skill that people pay thousands for to obtain. This country is far from free…it is oppressive and assimilates the oppressed to oppress themselves and those around them.