Photograph by Robert Englebright
August 11th, 2019
I just watched My Brooklyn (2012), a documentary from Kelly Anderson, which takes a close and cautionary look at the changes that have long been afoot in Downton Brooklyn. Anderson identifies herself as a Brooklyn gentrifier, one who moved to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker. And as the film opens, she offers that she moved to Park Slope in the eighties, when the rents were cheap.
Amongst other notable and compelling interviews, the film features contributions from the historian and author Craig Wilder, who wrote A Covenant with Color: Race and Social Power in Brooklyn (2000); Assembly Member Charles Barron, and the photographer Jamel Shabazz.
I'm still wrapping my heart and mind around the film, and will write more later, but for now, I'm left with two thoughts:
(1) I have to admit that I had no idea, at all, that the Albee Square Mall (4:43) was a cultural phenomenon and community epicenter, or even existed at all; and
(2) The film features footage of community advocates from organizations like Furee (Families United for Racial and Economic Quality), the Pratt Center for Community Development; and the Fifth Avenue Committee taking politicians and developers to task, to no avail. And as I watched the effort to fight developers and politicians with fire and anger and distrust and contempt fail, again and again and again, I couldn't help but think: why not ask the question that Chris Gardner asks in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006): "What do you do, and how do you do it?"
- Isaac Myers III