BROOKLYN STAND-UP. I still remember a time when I was afraid to say that. I was 12-years old in Las Vegas riding the gondola in the Venetian hotel. There was a couple riding with me who asked where I was from and I abruptly said “Manhattan” before my cousin could say, Brooklyn. That was one of the biggest lies I had ever told as a child. My cousin looked at me completely bewildered and later asked why I would tell such a lie. To be honest, I was too ashamed to admit in front of these suburban white people that the two black kids in the gondola with them were from Brooklyn, Manhattan was so much more upscale at the time. The couple serenaded me with questions about city life as I dug myself deeper and deeper into the lie. Brooklyn for me was not a source of pride when I was younger. It represented dodging gunshots at parties and drug dealers on every corner. It was a place that I desperately wanted to escape.
When I returned home from college, so much change took place. There were cute little shops, cultural events and Brooklyn somehow emerged as the center of New York. I fell in love with “my hood” that I took for granted for so many years. My backyard was the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, The Brooklyn Museum, and Prospect Park, landmarks that people travel from all over the world to encounter. Why did it take me so long to realize the value in that?
Brooklyn is my soul. It shaped me into who I am and showed me who I didn’t want to be. This summer the most profound thing happened; not once did I have to leave the comfort of my borough to have fun…Brooklyn became the new Manhattan. From the beer gardens to the beautiful summer nights at the museum, I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I AM BROOKLYN.
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