I moved to Bed-Stuy when I was 8 years old. It was like a village - a vibrant community made up of neighbors who cared for each other. Back then there were no white people there. There was also no decent food, hospital, or public school. I’m 19 years old now and I still live in Bed-Stuy. Over the years I have watched my community change drastically as the influx of white middle class inhabitants moved into the neighborhood.
Now my block is 25 percent white. We have two organic delis on each corner, an organic supermarket, coffee shops, and yoga studios. We also have more police presence, fewer black owned businesses, rent raises, and eviction. People who are from here can’t even afford to live here anymore. I have watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen people who have lived in the same house for fifty years become homeless, I’ve seen family businesses torn down and overpriced coffee shops put in their place.
Gentrification is a blatant form of systematic racism. While some may think new coffee shops and organic delis are ‘fixing our hoods’, the effect that the incoming white middle class population has on the native black and brown lives inhabiting these vibrant communities is destructive. These shifts in my environment are what inspired me to create Malcolm X and Greene. Through the lens of a young documentarian living in Bed-Stuy, Malcolm X and Greene is a story of a gentrified Brooklyn, and an ode to a vibrant and rapidly disappearing community.