Learning about: ‘There is nothing hip and cool happening in Brooklyn. It’s a war.’

Activist Imani Henry tells us all about how gentrification isn’t inevitable and how you can get involved in slowing it down.

From ‘There is nothing hip and cool happening in Brooklyn. It’s a war.’:

You might know Henry and Equality for Flatbush from the Before It’s Gone//Take It Back selfie campaign, or from that time a restaurant made a bad stop-and-frisk joke. Before It’s Gone//Take It Back seeks to “physically show what’s at stake” in gentrification by asking people to send in photos of themselves holding signs with the campaign’s name and the photo’s location. They’ve collected photos from around the world, something Henry says highlights the fact that gentrification isn’t a Brooklyn-based crisis. Many of their photos come from the South, especially North Carolina, where plenty of families are being displaced. Beyond their work to save affordable housing, Equality for Flatbush provides legal support for dollar van drivers and works to bring justice for people affected by police violence, like the family of Kimani Gray.

Henry outlined some ways you can help fight gentrification:

  • Learn your neighborhood’s real names. Changing a neighborhood’s name to be more realtor-friendly is a symbol of conquest.
  • Ask your neighbors how their landlords treat them and create moments of solidarity that can lead to action.
  • Get involved with our local tenant’s association.
  • Respect the leaders and elders that are already working to keep their neighborhood cohesive and find ways to support them.
  • Support grassroots affordable housing projects.


image credit: Sabelo Narasimhan