All Articles Tagged "brooklyn"

Brooklyn’s Shaakir and Naazir Muhammad And Their Ballet Dreams

May 12th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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Brooklyn Ballet’s wonder kids, 16-year-old twin brothers Shaakir and Naazir Muhammad, star in this beautiful montage about being in ballet and following their passion. Dubbed “the Billy Elliots of Brooklyn,” back in 2011, they won full scholarships to the prestigious American Ballet Theatre in Manhattan. Like the Broadway character, the boys had to overcome some major hurdles to fulfill their dreams. Read more about their journey here.

“The second I tell someone I’m a classically trained ballet dancer, they just look at me like, what? You? You’re a dancer? Look at the way you dress. And I’m like, you’re not seeing only the way I dress, you’re looking at my skin. That’s what you’re telling me,” says Shaakir.

“I remember when I first walking into xix Studios, me and Naazir walked in…the room got quiet. Like drop dead quiet. You could feel the people stare at you and I just felt like everyone here is scared of me. My hair is not flowy and stringy like a white boys hair. I don’t have the delicate features, you know, the soft colored eyes…I don’t have that. This is me, this is how I look and I’m not going to change it for you go so I can get some part.”

“The internalized racism was crazy…you shouldn’t be wearing tights with them white boys, you might turn gay…if you stand next to Naazir for more than 30 seconds you can turn gay…all of a sudden I look up and there are no kids around me. That didn’t bother me, honestly, because they can’t give me anything to make me prosper. I want to be the first African American principal dancer. Just to get written down in Black history and kids int he future are gonna do reports on me when I’m dead, well, me and my brother, not just me. We’ll see who gets there first.”


New York City Creates Publicity Videos For Democratic National Convention Bid

January 13th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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The City of New York is busy promoting itself as a candidate host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC). The goal of the DNC is to nominate and confirm who will be the Democratic presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2016 November elections. Aiming for a win for Brooklyn, New York City’s government has released a series of videos of native New Yorkers and celebrities who grew up within in the five boroughs.

The Daily News reports, die-hard New Yorker Rosie Perez said in her video, “If the DNC comes to Brooklyn, you are going to understand why we are so proud and loud about it. Can we tawk?” The lead of the Motown Broadway show, Josh Tower who acts as Berry Gordy hailed New Yorkers. “We have the biggest stars, the brightest lights, and nowhere else in the world can you have this much fun and see this great of a show,” he says.

The DNC committee will choose between Philadelphia, New York and Columbus, OH. New York Mayor de Blasio’s spokeswoman Marti Adams says New York out-fundraised the competing cities. Despite the Big Apple financial advantage, sources exclusively told the Daily News that donors to the DNC are not sure if the convention should be held in Brooklyn due to the shooting that left two police officers dead in December.

Do you think New York City should host the DNC?

Brooklyn Using $1 Million To Investigate Wrongful Conviction Claims

July 29th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Brooklyn has dedicated $1.1 million annually to look into cases of potential wrongful convictions. It is under the tutelage of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who has expanded his office’s Conviction Review Unit. And the unit is grabbing national attention.

It has had seven people in six months exonerated. It may not sound like much, but with a country’s judicial system bogged down with paperwork, these numbers are outstanding.

“Since 2007, prosecutors have started conviction integrity units dedicated to making sure the right people were found guilty of crimes. In many cases, exonerations have involved misidentifications and new DNA testing,” reports USA Today. But it has been found that most of the wrongful conviction claims in Brooklyn may involve police misconduct.

“Brooklyn is ground central,” Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, told the newspaper. “They are systematically examining a large set of cases in which there may have been serious misconduct by police officers and possibly by prosecutors themselves over a period of years involving dozens and possibly hundreds of homicide cases…That is an operation on a scale that nobody else has done.”

Compared to other parts of the city, Brooklyn’s cases are more complicated (and potentially more scandalous) as well as costly.

Of the 90 cases the unit is investigating, a whopping 57 of them involve former NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella. Scarcella’s policing tactics have been a sore spot for the NYPD, especially after evidence proved Scarcella coached a witness to pick a suspect out of a lineup. In that case, the suspect, David Ranta, spent 23 years in prison before being exonerated. “Scarcella is also accused of using one crack addicted witness to testify at a number of trials as well fabricating confessions and intimidating suspects,” reports USA Today.

Outrageous wrongful convictions such as Ranta’s have wound up costing the borough and the entire city. In an attempt to compensate Ranta for all the years he spent unjustly behind bars, the City of New York made a settlement for $6.4 million before a $150 million civil rights lawsuit went to trial.

Brooklyn Beauty: 15 Peeks At The Evolution of Rosie Perez

June 29th, 2014 - By Rich
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We’ve loved seeing the evolution of Rosie Perez over the years: from the sassy dancer pumping her way down Soul Train lines to the spicy fly girl choreographer on In Living Color. Let’s not forget to mention Rosie’s unforgettable opening scene in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Moviegoers were happy to see Rosie go on to be a film favorite. She enjoyed roles in White Men Can’t Jump and It Could Happen to You.

Rosie recently eleased her memoir Handbook For an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair). In her book, she details her evolution, life and career. As an ode to Rosie, we take a look at the actress’ evolution throughout the years.

Brooklyn Beauty: 15 Peeks At The Evolution of Rosie Perez

Brooklyn Junior High School Student Becomes Published Author Of Two Books

May 21st, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From The Grio 

One Brooklyn eight-grade student has turned her hobby into an early profession, granting her the title of published author.

13-year-old Angela Content says reading is one of her favorite activities — so much so that she decided to write her own stories that have now turned into two self-published books.

Angela’s mother, Marie Content, told CBS New Yorkthat she had no idea her daughter was serious about becoming an author until she approached her one day and was surprised to hear the news.

“At first she said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to write a book. I’m writing my own book,’ I said, ‘OK.’ She said, ‘I’m going to publish it.’ I said, ‘OK,’” Marie Content told CBS.

“And then finally one day she said: ‘Mommy, my book is going to publish. I already transmitted everything — it’s going to take 24 hours, they’re going to review it. I said, ‘OK,’” Marie Content said. “And then the next day, I heard it’s on Amazon. I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’”

Angela has written two books: one is a sci-fi fantasy titled “Awake and Alive,” and the other is a romance novel titled “Shattered.” Each book reportedly took her three month to write, with her latest novel reaching just over 200 pages. She also writes the stories by hand — and explains that doing so helps create a constant flow of creativity.

Read more about Angela Content at 

Legacy Of Rebecca Ramnarine, 9-Year-Old Brooklyn Girl Killed In Hit-And-Run, Lives On With American Girl Fundraiser

May 19th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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On May 4, 2014, Rebecca Ramnarine,9, was killed in a devastating car crash. The tragedy took place in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie on Remsen Avenue when 62-year-old Kenneth Palache, who was driving with a suspended license, was pulled over after causing a previous hit and run. The Daily News reports:

“Cops had pulled over Palache’s Honda Odyssey near a bus stop in Canarsie because he was suspected in a hit-and-run crash in which he left part of his minivan’s bumper behind. Palache, who was driving with a suspended license, made like he was going to get out of his car, then slammed the door and sped off about 5 p.m. He hit 60 mph over just two blocks, blew through a stop sign at Remsen Ave. and Avenue N and slammed into the rear of a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, in which Rebecca was in the backseat, police said. A third car was also struck at the intersection.”

Palache has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminal endangerment, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident and one count of driving with a suspended license. Over 500 people attended Ramnarine’s funeral in East Flatbush at Restoration Temple Assembly Of God and  Bishop Hezekiah Walker performed his hit song, “Every Praise.” Despite her short life, Ramnarine’s legacy lives on through an initiative to honor her love of American Girl dolls and collect money for young girls who cannot afford to celebrate their birthday at American Girl retail stores. The site for the fundraiser states:

“We were in the process of planning her 10th birthday party for this October. Since she could not do her birthday party at the American Girl store, she decided that American Girl would be the theme of her party. It is heartbreaking that she will never be able to see the visions of grandeur she had planned for her birthday. There are likely many young girls across the country who would never be able to afford an American Girl party, visit an American Girl store or purchase an American Girl Doll. In Rebecca’s name, a fund has been established to give less fortunate girls the opportunity to have their very own American Girl Doll, and spend an unforgettable day at the American Girl store.”

Rebecca Ramnarine leaves behind her parents, two sisters, brother and church family. Our prayers are with them all. To donate to her American Doll fund, click here.


New Brooklyn DA Vows To Stop Prosecuting Small Amounts Of Marijuana Possession

February 12th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Brooklyn, NY, is moving to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana as new Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson has vowed to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests.

“I not only want to keep Brooklyn safe, I want to protect the future of our youth,” Ken Thompson said during his inaugural address. “That means we must change the policy regarding those who are arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

“In 2012 over 12,000 people in Brooklyn were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly young, black men,” Thompson said, citing a 2013 report that found blacks in Brooklyn were nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession,” he added.

According to Thompson, such arrests clog the criminal justice system, costing the borough substantial time and money, adding “if these defendants are given criminal records instead of violations, it would make it harder for them in the future to live productive lives. We in Brooklyn can, and must, do better.”

When elected, Thompson became Brooklyn’s first black district attorney. During his run, he promised not to criminally prosecute persons arrested for possessing less than 15 grams of pot. Instead, those arrested would be given a non-criminal violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Currently, in New York, possession of small amounts of marijuana is only a crime if it’s “in public view.” Until 1993, New York City averaged less than 2,000 marijuana arrests annually, but under Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, this rose to more than 50,000 in 2011–more than all the marijuana arrests from 1978 to 1996, combined–as a result of police bringing marijuana into “public view” through stops and frisks.

“Public safety and law and order run hand in hand with civil liberties,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at the inauguration of Thompson whom he called a “progressive.”

“Ken is going to help create a new New York in which we make people safe and respect their rights at the same time, and that means ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk once and for all,” the mayor added.

Conversely, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently gave up an effort to decriminalize possession of under 15 grams of weed statewide. Now he’s pushing for a less controversial medical marijuana plan. Do you think it will get through?

Nelson Mandela’s Family Releases Statement & Says “We Have Lost A Great Man…”

December 7th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Danny Clifford/

Danny Clifford/

Nelson Mandela’s family has released their first statement since the death of the world leader on Thursday.

In the statement, recited by family spokesman Lt. Gen. Temba Templeton Matanzima and released to the Associated Press, the family said, “The pillar of the royal Mandela family is no more with us physically, but his spirit is still with us.”

The statement went on to read:

“We have lost a great man, a son of the soil whose greatness in our family was in the simplicity of his nature in our midst — a caring family leader who made time for all and on that score we will miss him dearly.”

It is easy to forget that while the world mourns a leader in change, the Mandela family lost their loved one.

While they continue to get through this time and South Africa prepares for a period of mourning, a decision has been made in New York City as to how they will honor Nelson Mandela.

According to the New York Daily News, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Friday that a new high school will open next September in honor of Mandela’s legacy.

The Nelson Mandela School of Social Justice will open on the campus of Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn as a tribute to the leader. BGHS was one of the first stops Mandela made on his first trip to New York after being released from prison.

Mayor Bloomberg said regarding the announcement:

“President Mandela once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Renaming the campus he visited shortly after his release from prison, will forever serve as a reminder that our mandate as public servants is to provide our children with the weapons they need for a successful future and help us build a city of inclusion.”

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott added: “Every time they enter and exit its doors, our students at this new school will be reminded of the values he personified.”

What a great tribute and it will not come as a big surprise if we see more schools around the world being named in honor of the great Nelson Mandela.

Anti-Street Harassment Campaign, “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” Heads To Kickstarter

September 9th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Stop Telling Women To Smile

Source: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

The creator of ‘Stop Telling Women To Smile’( STWTS), the public art series that addresses street harassment has taken her cause to Kickstarter. The artwork seen in Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s series consists of drawn paintings of women who have contributed their stories of street harassment. The paintings are posted on outdoor walls to directly confront harassment offenders.

Fazlalizadeh began the STWTS project to explore the agency behind gender based street harassment. By collaborating artwork with the cause, Fazlalizadeh was able to give a public image to the street harassment she experienced in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Therefore, the paintings help humanize the sexual exploitation that occurs  in the streets.

The process behind the artwork goes as follows: Fazlalizadeh interviews a woman who shares her harassment story; she then designs a poster which reflects the mood of the harassment incident through imagery and text. Because of the growing support, Fazlalizadeh would now like to travel to different states to investigate how street harassment differs in various regions. She would install STWTS exhibitions in those cities, as well.

What happens in Bed-Stuy will differ from what happens in Oakland, or Kansas City. It’s important for me to learn about these differences and create work that will resonate better within a particular community. What do women who live in cities where public transportation is mostly used experience as opposed to women who live in cities where everyone drives? What’s the slang? What do queer and trans women experience? What street corners are hot-spots for harassment in a particular city? What type of harassment specifically happens on those corners? And most importantly, what do the women who experience street harassment around the country want to say back to the harassers in these posters?

The goals of the Kickstarter project will fund:

  • Travel Expenses – Flights to 6-8 US cities, food, lodging, local transportation.
  • Rewards – Costs of producing the rewards, packaging, and shipping
  • Materials- Costs of printing the posters, brushes, rollers, etc.
  • Documentation- Flights for filmmaker, equipment, travel expenses, etc.
  • Participation Costs – Costs of producing and distributing posters

Although many would understand the cause of STWTS, the attitudes of others have been dismissive towards the project. Reason being, a gray answer comes from the question, what is street harassment? Yes, we know it as a person coercing another but how can a demographic of women define what it is when culture shapes the language men use to approach women? Also if a woman strikes up a conversation with a man who has “cat-called” her, it will appear she folded her stand against street harassment.  Most importantly, do the rules of street harassment apply in a more inclusive social setting, such as a nightclub or networking conference? Identifying street harassers ultimately comes from a pre-disposed notion of who women believe they should interact with and how they should be treated by such men. This involves the dress, speech and behavior males possess.

The Kickstarter goal of STWTS is $15,000; currently $11,550 has been raised. Below is a video from Tatyana Fazlalizadeh;  she plans to hire a film maker to create a documentary on ‘Stop Telling Women To Smile’.

Would you support STWTS or is the cause a waste of time?

Hysterical Woman Gets Stuck Atop Coney Island Ferris Wheel, Blames Beyoncé And Her Glam Squad

August 30th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Woman gets stuck atop Coney Island ferris wheel

Source: WENN

Yesterday Beyoncé and her video team invaded the famous Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn, NY for an apparent video shoot. While we imagine that this was a pleasant surprise for many, it was nothing short of a nightmare for 47-year-old Manhattan resident, Dorris Hone, who says she was stuck on top of the amusement park’s Wonder Wheel for nearly thirty minutes while Bey’s glam squad did her makeup at the bottom.

“When I was realized I was stuck up there, we were up there for a while, I started freaking out. I’m afraid of heights. I was horrified.” Hone told Page Six.

When Bey approached the wheel, amusment park workers reportedly let six to ten riders from their cars, but Hone was left in hers.

“I just didn’t understand why they would do that. I didn’t know at first — but it was Beyoncé,” she said.

“She was screaming at the top of her lungs, ‘Get me off this ride. She was just hysterical up there.” one of Hone’s friends revealed.

But unfortunately, the roaring sound of screaming Bey fans below masked a hysterical Hone’s cries. When the ferris wheel finally moved again, Hone made a tearful exit.

“Ironically, my son is a big fan of Beyoncé. I’m just really shaken up. It would be nice to get an apology from her,” Hone told reporters.

Poor thing.

Do you think Bey owes her an apology?