The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Are We Little Haiti or Little Caribbean?

Well, like most contentious issues, depends on who you ask. For a summary of arguments, here's a well-drawn opinion of the pro "Little Caribbean argument."

For the Q's part, I only heard a couple weeks ago that founder of CaribBeing - Shelly Worrell - had effectively worked her way through the Labyrinth of Bureaucracy to actually come away with a near unanimously embraced win for the 'hood in terms of increased recognition and maybe even a commercial windfall. Tourism tends to follow such designations, don't you know.

Ah, but then...local NY State Assemblyperson Rodneyse Bichotte smelled something rotten in Kingston, as she claims that plans have been in the works for years to get a Little Haiti designation for the same area - roughly Empire Blvd down to the Junction along Flatbush Avenue. Why not both, say some? Say what, say others? And what's with lumping Haitians and Caribbeans together in the first place? (hint: it's not just about geography, or puerto rico would be in the mix)

The Q first caught wind of this while dying his hair green last weekend, not to be left out of the fun his girls were having going pink and blue. As I waddled off to the Susie Farm cum Flatbush Market, leaving them with shower caps on to speed the bleaching, I ran into gentle bear Duane Joseph and got the whole skinny from him. Upon further examination, it would seem that the issue of whether Haiti is part of or distinct from the culture identified as Caribbean goes back a spell. To be honest, I've often wondered whether the French and English speaking countries might bear some animosity, just from things I've observed and heard through the years, but this seems to confirm that there are lingering resentments that can come into play over seemingly harmless distinctions of neighborhood identity.

Bichotte huffed a letter to the Mayor; a local activist followed with one to Bichotte. The details here.

If your lineage is comes from North of Miami, I highly suggest you do your best to stay out of the kitchen while the frying pot is still scalding hot. And don't even dream of calling the neighborhood Little Hipster.

Update: And just after I suggested that it would be wise for non-Caribbean folks to stay out of the fray, along comes this from KCP's Stephen Witt. It's comedy, for sure, but I'm guessing it'll come back to haunt him. Just a hunch.


Alex said...

This is why we can't have nice things.

Anonymous said...

Two bald guys fighting over a comb...

Anonymous said...

The Caribbean community as a whole has a lot more to worry about then this designation. As a Haitian/Trinidadian American, I concur with Williams; the area is large enough to include both designations...a no brainer. This is a petty fight when you have many inter-marriages and couplings between Haitian Americans and other Caribbean countries. This is trivial.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Skinner you are indeed ill informed. As someone of mixed heritage, Guyanese, Haitian and Jamaican ancestry, I take offense to your description of Haitians, and their contributions to Brooklyn. Furthermore, I proudly wear all my flags, during the Caribbean Day Parade; and I am equally proud of all the contributions that my ancestors have contributed to Brooklyn and beyond. Your focus should be on the gentrification of the area and how people of the Caribbean, regardless of their country of origin are being affected. You and Bishotte should be working together/collaborating on behalf of these people. This is the pettiness that's causing others to walk-in silently, while this raucous has been going on, and taking over the neighborhood. Shame on you!