Saturday, May 2, 2015

Uncovering the Treasures in Brooklyn

PRESS RELEASE                 For Immediate Release

Contact: Akosua Albritton

347 881 6509

Uncovering the Treasures in Brooklyn

New York, NY - May 1, 2015 - The Omamiwinini called parts of it “Canarsie” and

“Makeepaca”.  The Dutch called parts of it “Boswyck” and “Nieuw Utrecht” in Nieuw

Netherlands.  Today, it’s known as Brooklyn, a place where African and African-Americans have thrived since the 1600s.

Yes, African-Americans have thrived in Brooklyn.  In fact, an article, in the July 14, 1895

New York Times reads, ”…As soon as negro men amass a comfortable fortune, they

move from this city across the East River because they can find in Brooklyn more economical and satisfactory investment…”  

Brooklyn Treasures Uncovered© aims to satisfy the curious about Black Brooklyn.  Brooklyn Treasures Uncovered© reveals the contributions that Africans and African-Americans have made to the development of Brooklyn, USA.  These contributions include founding towns, operating African Free Schools, and running for the US President’s office.

Brooklyn Treasures Uncovered© is a program consisting of 17 talks, five neighborhood walks, and visits to places of interest throughout the borough.  It displays the historic residential patterns of African-Americans in Brooklyn.  It has received excellent reviews by 11 evaluators and at Brooklyn Christian Center.

 _____                    _________                 ________       _______

Akosua Albritton, a trained urban planner, points to designing the first travel brochure for central Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant? Yes!, The Guide to the Places and Events in and around our Bustling Community, in 1998, as the starting point for her academic dig into this borough.  “Bedford-Stuyvesant has murals, an outdoor pool, two amphitheaters, and tennis courts as well as being surrounded by Fort Greene, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights that have their own cultural capital”, explains Ms. Albritton.  The publishing of the brochure qualified Ms. Albritton to be selected one of four adjunct professors to draft a syllabus and itinerary for a new summer seminar called History of Blacks in Brooklyn for The College of New Rochelle in 2000.  In 2012, she spun off a Facebook page, also called Brooklyn Treasures Uncovered© and 17 presentation topics.

#                      #                      #

Pig Town in Flatbush
Courtesy of the Brooklyn Public Library

Colored School no.1, 51 Edward Street
Courtesy of New York Public Library

Courtney Washington in his Boutique
Courtesy of

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quite Off The Tech Topic: Reproductive Rights

There is an emerging woman's health organization that has an exhaustive survey to determine the kinds of services it should offer to women.  Of course, respondents are queried about their position on termination of pregnancy.

As my knowledge and understanding of life and existence increase, so does my perspective on the purpose of birth and the legal wranglings surrounding "choice" and "right to life".  At this point in my life, I'm at the following state of consciousness:

To have sex is an agreement a woman and man make unless either is forced into it.  Both know that unprotected sex can result in pregnancy. I know that the spark of life occurs at conception.  I don't know when the ori comes into the growing body.  I believe termination of pregnancy is a serious matter on an ancestral level.  A woman must make the choice to stop or foster the growth and live with this decision.  The dominating culture doesn't teach people the ancestral aspect of life and has people argue over whether God is in disfavor of abortion when the issue is permitting an ancestor(s) to materialize just as you had the chance to do so.

At another point my state of consciousness will probably be different.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Predictions or Knowing the Trend

All Time 10s is a video shorts series that can be accessed through YouTube.  One upload is entitled "10 Amazing Predictions That Actually Came True".  The predictions revolve around electronic innovations. These predictions don't surprise me. Evidently, these men--Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Roger Ebert, John Watkins---were familiar with the existing precursors.  It was a matter of understanding the sequence of events or natural course of action to which the general public isn't privy.  In other words, it's a matter of insider privileges.

I find the introduction of "electronic innovations" appear to flow backwards into the consumer market. For example, if televisions and radio preceded computers, it would make more sense to have introduced arm-held devices with phone, video, and office applications, thereafter.  Instead, to make more money, the big floor-model TV, was replaced with a miniature nightstand-size TV.  Decades later, the widescreen TV is brought to the market. Similarly, the beeper is introduced after people had grown accustomed to telephones. The beeper is overtaken by the small cellphone, which was overtaken by the cellphone with web access, to be overtaken by tablets. I suggest the answer is sustaining the gravy train via Big-Box or e-commerce. 

Why were tablets introduced in the late 90s, knowing people had been accustomed to large screens from viewing movies in theaters and from floor model televisions since the 20s?  It's quite a cognitive jolt to go from widescreens  to viewing 3-inch screens. Again, it's the gravy train.

Keeping the gravy train running is at the expense of people, though. The issue that slow adapters may have to innovation is that much innovation is physically uncomfortable. For example, a worker has a desktop at the job where she's used to a large screen and a reliable keyboard but her boss wants her to switch to a Blackberry, an iPhone or other handheld device so she's "mobily" accessible.  Had the worker been given a tablet or Netbook device the transition would have been less jarring.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, February 3, 2014

Riding a Tablet for a Buck and a Half

Riding a Tablet for a Buck and a Half 

By Akosua K. Albritton

Call me a techno fool but I got pulled into the commercials and magazine ads when it came to the tablets.  For years, I kept a tablet on my wish list but never went into a big box like Best Buy to get the skinny on my options.

It seemed iPad Air (about $500) and iPad Mini (about $400) were pulling the consumer strings but I wasn't forking over the "four or five bucks" to own a piece of heaven.  I guess the ostrich in me stuck her head and neck deep deep into Terra Firma.  To cement my misconceptions, my experience with a Kindle had me wanting my tried and true desktop.  Yeah, the big screens on the desktop have me hooked.  I don't want to squint and love the dependability of the keyboard.  The Kindle I handled gave me Internet access but the screen narrowed my Facebook experience.

Then, I saw the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 priced at about $380; Microsoft Surface Pro at $900; and the LG G Pad (talk about comeuppance with Apple) at $320.  Still the tablet stayed on the wish list because different tablets had differing functions.  I want one that let's me work on the fly but I wasn't doing my old tech journalist research to uncover it.

Quite recently, I came upon a man named Jermaine Jones sitting at a corner table of a large cafeteria.  It looked like he was set up to watch DVDs but once in front of his table, before me was  an array of compact tech gadgets.  There was an ASUS 16G Tablet. He purchased it at a Walgreen's for $150 (Hey, isn't Walgreens a pharmacy?).  There was a cookie-shaped CLEAR Voyager Mobile 4G Wi-Fi.  Jermaine explained that since CLEAR had been bought out, the device was no longer on the market and now, consumers had to buy mobile Internet access by the gigabyte.  I couldn't conceive of how the average web surfer could estimate his Wi-Fi needs in lots of gigabytes.  This cherished piece gave him 24-hour mobile access to the Internet using the monthly contract price structure.  He paid $50 for the cookie-shaped CLEAR Voyager Wi-Fi and $50 a month for the service. The third piece on his table was an It wireless bluetooth portable speaker which can be used with cellphones, tablets, and MP3 players.  He paid $30 for it. All items used an USB charger.

He had dozens of apps on the ASUS tablet that he downloaded from Google Play.  All apps were free.  He had a GMail account which meant he had access to Google's cloud apps such as Calendar, Wallet, Docs, and Translator. This Walgreen buy had two-way camera shots.

His ease of explaining the gadgets and the apps had me ask Mr. Jones the type of work he did.  He said he was into security and open to other suggestions.  I asked him had he thought about working at an electronics store.  It was obvious that he liked technology and knew how to scour for great and practical tech deals.  No, Mr. Jones hadn't thought about it before.  Sometimes....we need a third party to point out a few of our strengths. 

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Achieving Civil Rights in the Face of Stop & Frisk Abuses

There are pundits who place the US Civil Rights era between the years 1955 and 1968.  This placement suggests the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans and other hyphenated Americans was just a 13-year ordeal.  Is this actually the case?  Can national ancestors such as Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers rest easy, assured that their bloodshed brought franchise, fair deals and justice?

“Much has changed for the better since Mr. Evers’s brutal death 50 years ago—but there is also much we can still learn and put in use from the brave life he lived”, reflects St. Senator Eric Adams (D, WF) 20 SD.  “Certainly, if he were alive today, he would be at the front lines against the abuse of Stop and Frisk…Yes, this City would do well to consider his courage and continue the fight against inequality and injustice that still exist today.”

The Senator speaks with authority regarding the flaws of the NYC Police Department’s procedure officially named Stop, Question and Frisk.  Prior to gaining the NYS Senate seat, he was a NYPD Captain in central Brooklyn. He distinguished his police career by co-founding 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care with several other peace officers.  Since taking his NYS Senate office in 2006, Adams has kept an eye on NYPD activity.  A visit to his State Senate website reveals his dedicated attention to local police matters.  There is a downloadable 23-slide presentation entitled Stop, Question and Frisk Procedure in the ‘Report’ section.  This slide show gives the objectives of Stop, Question and Frisk; the procedure for carrying it out; and the four scenarios when a police officer can conduct Stop, Question and Frisk.  Using 2009 Center for Constitutional Rights’  findings and statistics, the State Senator makes a strong case that the procedure “has unmerited focus on African-American and Latino youth; the required reporting is not being followed; and the negative impact it has on youths of color’s psyche and criminal record.” The slide show purports “Of the four scenarios when a police officer should execute the practice, the overwhelming scenario is to fulfill quotas or gather names for the NYPD database”.

It appears that Stop, Question and Frisk flies in the face of civil rights. When queried about the realities of Stop Question and Frisk the State Senator posits, “Protecting New Yorkers and protecting their civil rights do not have to be competing interests.  We must give our law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe.  The abuse of Stop and Frisk is not useful in preventing crime.  In fact, it sours communities against working with police and that means crucial information isn’t shared to stop violence before it can occur.  The practice must be reformed to better meet the necessary standard of reasonable suspicion, to remove discrimination, and to ensure more criminals and fewer innocents are targeted for Stop and Frisk.”  His study and assessment of Stop, Question and Frisk is comparable to Medgar Evers’s work and concerns. Evers was shot in his back the early morning of June 12, 1963.

Currently the front runner in the race for the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, Adams stands to win the election in September.  Should he win he will not only be New York City’s first African American in the seat and but be the first police officer in several decades.  How will he make his mark as the BP serving all of Brooklyn?  Adam says, “This is a pivotal moment for Brooklyn.  We have become very popular in recent years but that hasn’t meant a better quality of life for everyone.  I want to turn our popularity into prosperity for all.  The BP must have a unifying vision for the borough that brings all Brooklynites together to make Brooklyn the best it can be.”

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Filling the Unemployment Quagmire

NYS Dept. of Labor’s Preliminary Area Unemployment Rates monthly report for April 2013 puts the state’s rate at 7.8%, which is the state’s lowest level since March 2009.  NYC’s rate (all 5 boroughs) for April was 7.7%.  This is down from 8.5% since the preceding month.  These figures strongly suggest that the local economy is bouncing back from the “Great Recession”.
Digging deeper reveals where high unemployment persists.  The Bronx County’s rate is 10.5% and Kings County’s is 8.4%, followed by Queens, Richmond County, and New York County at 6.9%, 6.7%, and 6.5%, respectively.
Census 2010 and historic residential patterns show that the Bronx is the home of most Hispanics and Brooklyn having the highest number of blacks in the City.  Could it be that NYC blacks and Hispanics experience higher unemployment than other New Yorkers?  Unfortunately, this is the case.
April 2013 figures for NYC Human Resources Administration’s three cash assistance programs count 363,991 recipients where most reside in Brooklyn (36.8%) and the Bronx (32.5%).  The case heads, regardless of residence, are primarily black (46%) and Hispanic (42.3%) for these programs.  White and Other are cumulatively a distant 11.67%.
What accounts for the high unemployment?  “Lack of education makes them unemployable”, asserts Michelle George, Brooklyn Community District 8 Manager.  This district covers Prospect Heights, northern Crown Heights, and Weeksville.  “Their high school dropout rates are higher than whites and the types of jobs that ‘lack of education’ affords—fast food and retail—[this population] doesn’t want”.  Workforce One Centers are dealing with this aversion by preparing Workforce One members for such employment.  Their clients include Home Depot, Lowe’s, Victoria’s Secret, Hale & Hearty Soups, and Burger Shack.
Glen Ettienne, owner of Delux Gallery Natural Hair Salon, in Clinton Hill, contends media exposure shapes young blacks' and Hispanics' life decisions.  “The people who own the press understand that we’re followers.  50% can’t think for themselves.  In owning the press, they can sway the public”.  Ettienne believes the music industry is another influencer.  “The original rap music was conscious rap that lifted us”, Ettienne opines. “So the record executives had the musicians change their lyrics.  Now nobody raps about going to college, respecting your brother, or raising your child.  'It’s drive a nice car', 'get, the money', 'get the bitches'”.
Others observe that neither public schools nor parents are adequately presenting the breadth of career and occupation options that youth could consider.  There are black businesses that admirably weather the current economic climate.  Black Enterprise’s Industry Leaders lists include many local enterprises.  Kristal Auto Mall, Uniworld Group, Inc., the Brooklyn-based advertising agency, Carver Federal, with branches in three boroughs, Valentine Mfg, in Hauppauge, and Prime Access, a marketing company need mentioning.
Where there is no apparent work people must make work.  One recession-proof industry is food and beverages.  Lowell Hawthorne turned one Caribbean cuisine restaurant into a franchise called Golden Crust Caribbean Bakery & Grill.  Franchising resulted in not only a business for Hawthorne and his co-founder but businesses and employment for 120 franchises.
Franchising can be an expensive proposition.  Golden Crust franchisees invest between $173,000 and $564,000 to operate the moneymakers.  There are franchises that require much lower cash outlays.  Janitorial franchises are within reach of moderate income households.  The investment ranges between $1,500 and $55,000.  JAN-Pro Cleaning Systems with 10,414 franchises in the US counts 2,675 franchises owned by black executives.  Investment is from $3,145 to $50,130.  Returning to attitudes, blacks and Hispanics must rethink what is worthy work and how to build wealth, if the community is determined to solve the unemployment quagmire.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,