I was asked by the Crown Heights Mediation Center whether Dutty Artz would be interested in supporting a community-led block party initiative called the “Arts to End Violence Festival” on Kingston Ave and of course the answer was an absolute yes. The Mediation Center is a community organization that provides a variety of services to create a healthier and safer neighborhood for everyone, with one of their primary focuses being gun violence prevention. One of their projects, called Save Our Streets (S.O.S) works to reduce shootings and killings and works to mobilize the neighborhood.
I rounded up the Dutty Artz troops – Ahmad Julian, DJ Ripley, and I – are all residents of Crown Heights. And DJ Beto (my iBomba partner) is a Bedstuy resident. With the exception of Ahmad who grew up in Brooklyn, Ripley, Beto, and I moved to these neighborhoods. In a time of rapid gentrification in Brooklyn, where housing “developments” rarely cater to low income communities and where landlords are doing what they can to get older residents out of apartments, renovating them, and hiking rents, the conversation about affordability, racial disparities and violence in neighborhoods, and what the solution to a complex problem could be is an important one to have. In a recent interview, I spoke a little about living in Crown Heights and the complexities of race and gentrification here.
For newer residents of these neighborhoods – I think it’s extremely important to acknowledge our roles in how Brooklyn is shifting and do what we can to support long-time residents and community-based work. It’s a responsibility, I think. For example, the work of the Crown Heights Tenants Association – an alliance of older residents with newcomers to combat wrongful landlord practices and ensure housing affordability for everyone is a key example of the kinds of solidarity necessary.
That’s why we’re doing what we can in our neighborhoods and providing support (even if it’s deejaying a block party) for important work that’s happening locally.
If you’re around today, we’ll be helping out at the Arts to End Violence Festival today (Saturday, May 17th) from 1pm – 5pm. Come check it out.