Reed Young – Brownsville

Spotlight on October 5, 2011 8:13 am

Anyone who looks at this site once in a while knows that I am a huge fan of Reed Young. Reed’s newest personal work, Brownsville, is nothing less than incredible. A bit on the project in his words:

“Brownsville is New York City’s most violent neighborhood and this isn’t changing any time soon. With the highest concentration of low-income public housing in America, it’s one of the few places in Brooklyn where gentrification is nowhere in sight.” – Reed

(Interviews and text by Rachel Gottesman)

See it, here.

Reed Young

Wendy Jameson: Wendy’s son Tyquan was shot and killed last July after playing basketball in a court at the Howard housing projects. As a Sethlow resident, Tyquan was not welcomed on the Howard courts. A great ball player, he was awarded these trophies while playing in numerous leagues. Tyquan is just one of the many teenagers who are victims of turf wars in Brownsville. Since his death eight months ago, there have been twenty-three murders.

 

Reed Young

Al Mathieu: Al is more of a neighborhood counselor than a barber. A jar of condoms he puts in plain sight makes his shop a place teenagers both rely on and trust. Al says his real work happens in the conversations that ensue while kids are getting their shape-ups or trims.

 

Reed Young

Hakeem Basheer and Curtis Walston: United Postal Service driver Hakeem delivered packages without a security guard for about a year, until he was robbed at gunpoint while walking into a project building. As a Brownsville native, Hakeem had felt secure that he would be left alone, but it didn’t take long for reality to prove him wrong. The stolen package was left in the hallway, but the robbery motivated Hakeem to ask the company for an armed security guard. Retired NYPD officer Curtis accompanies him during deliveries in Brownsville and neighboring high-crime communities. Curtis carries two guns, a .38mm and a .9mm, for protection.

 

Reed Young

Karrie “Penny” Scarboro: Many Brownsville residents say that the area has more sneaker stores than after-school programs. Brownsville has a total of three sneaker stores. A few years ago, Penny began hosting an informal after-school program so that children in her building would have a safe place to go after school.

 

Reed Young

Leon Sternhell and Delores Roll-West: Until 1960, Brownsville was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Leon Sternhell is now one of only two Jews still operating a business in the community. He has watched Brownsville’s crime rates increase as shops and storefronts are pushed out of the neighborhood. In response to the ongoing street violence, Mr. Sternhell locks the front door after every customer enters, and notes that if anything, this improves business, as his customers appreciate the safety precaution.

 

Reed Young

Virginia Smith: Virginia Smith has lived in Brownsville her entire life, but began swimming at the Brownsville Recreation Center (BRC) just two years ago. The BRC is one of New York City’s busiest recreation centers, one of the few safe havens for the young and old.

 

Reed Young

Olivia Rolland: Olivia recently formed the “Made Life Pretty Gunnas” (MLPG) crew, which is now made up of over fifty young girls. Young people frequently assemble crews or gangs as adolescents yearning for acceptance. Olivia feels that MLPG is her most dependable support network and would defend its members under any circumstance. She is currently suspended from school for fighting in defense of one of her group members. More often than not, these small discrepancies turn into long-term conflicts that end in fatal violence.

 

Reed Young

Donte Tyson English: Donte is one of eight who live in this three-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor. His mother is thirty-two years old and his four siblings range in age from six to sixteen. Donte is in the third grade and wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

 

Reed Young

Hilda Vazquez: Hilda has lived in the Langston Hughes projects for all forty-two years of her life. Langston Hughes is one of the most notorious of the eighteen housing developments that dominate Brownsville. Hilda has been raped once and robbed three times in this building, but does not want to leave while her youngest son is still in high school. She fears they would face harsher challenges as outsiders in a new neighborhood.

6 Comments

  • I am a huge fan of Reed’s work, and this is one of his best and most important stories to date. Thank you for featuring it. Reed, you are THE MAN!

    • Hey Mark — Thanks for your comment, this project is really incredible. I’m sure Reed thanks you, too 🙂

  • Great story Reed I knew nothing about this area. Thanks for this.

    david

  • Sharon

    Hi Mr Reed I’m a former Resident of Langston Hughe project. God bless you and the work you do to help our people. I use to live in building 335 Sutter Ave on the 15th floor. I was 4yrsthe old when my parent’s movied in the fairly new building and I movie out of the building at 20yrsthe old and I’ve been back to visit twice since then and in a few months I will be 50up yrs old. When I look at the pictures of some of families I thank god for guiding me out of langston Hughe and allowing me to expand my horizons to become the women I have become today. I say all of that to say that God has his children in his hands and he’s always there even when we think he’s not.
    Thank you, for the langston hughe website because with out I wouldn’t have ever been able to express my appreciation for leaving langston Hughe and becoming someone and not something God Bless all.

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