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.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Howling Of Young Men: In Black and White

God bless rock 'n' roll, in its many shades and forms. When Public Enemy came out everyone and his bandmates knew it was punk rock with big beats and shiny gold jewelry. But this time the message wasn't just anarchy and was revolution, history and a reclamation of culture. It was, in a word, smart. And wicked danceable. And powerful. And just like the best rock 'n' roll before it, it scared the heck out of the parents.

On one of our most adorable blocks comes the below story from Brenda Gueye Edwards, who raised a family of her own on the same block that now sees a new generation of families. The Q can relate, and is happy to relate this story she shared with me:

I'm willing to bet that the exuberant teens that descended on my block in gentrifying Prospect Lefferts Gardens one heavenly late spring afternoon were simply being teenagers,ecstatic about the party they were attending to perhaps celebrate their band's first CD release or to claim victory for their favorite sports team.
I do not believe their rambunctious behavior was due to any allegiance or solidarity as gang members. I find it difficult to comprehend the idea that their sole purpose was to frighten those that peaked out of their doors and windows to see what all of the ruckus was about and then seemingly satisfied with their observations,went back to their business or routine because after all kids will be kids. 
I believe that as responsible parents and as a community we must allow such instances in the life of our youth. Of course, we are here to help them define appropriate behavior at the appropriate time that will keep them safe and respectful and yet allow them to find their own way. 
But I also believe that the observers of this teenage frenzy would have had a different reaction had the teenagers been black. The imagery of black teens running, ripping and screaming to the top of their lungs would have provoked fear and a need to call out the militia.
Black youth have been denied the privilege and freedom of just being teenagers out in public having a good  time and living out loud. The assumption is that they are "thugs" and "savages". This train of thought has festered like a terminal disease triggering systematic racism and prejudices.
We are all a product of this unfortunate and predictable system. The problem is that too many of us are either in denial or are either profoundly comfortable with living with the inequities that will never build a strong community.
The subtleties of racism are routinely projected and practiced in incidents such as the one I have just described; each of us taking notes subconsciously and or consciously as to just where we stand. And as for black teenagers, learning this debasing lesson only adds to the difficulties of navigating the process of growing into adulthood reasonably "well-adjusted".
The good news is that they come from a long line of resilient ancestors. And hopefully,those of us in the village who are conscious will provide positive guidance and commit to necessary change.
Whether the '70s, '80s, '00s or today, it's nice now and then to acknowledge musical trendsetters and the way they attempt to enchant the disenchanted. Sometimes, really, it's not such a bad thing. Maybe, it's okay to indulge the hooligans, remembering that sometimes a stage is just a stage, that art is art, that being bad can sometimes be very, very good.

Blitzkrieg Bop - Beat On the Brat
Straight Outa Compton - Fuck the Police

Is This It? and New York City Cops (poor babies!)

The obscenely popular Flatbush Zombies - Thug Waffle and AmeriKKKan Pie

1 comment:

RZ said...

Marvelously written, thanks