My first memories of Brooklyn go as far back as four years old, walking down Flatbush Avenue holding my mother's hand. The air was filled with reggae music and Caribbean food. I would throw a fit if we didn't stop at the mango cart. I had to have the sliced mangoes with salt and vinegar (a Caribbean recipe). Every neighborhood in Brooklyn had its own feel depending on the cultural aspect of the people living there. I grew up between the Flatbush and Crown Heights sections of Brooklyn. At the time those neighborhoods were primarily Jewish people and Caribbean migrants raising their first-generation American children. I remember there being a one-block separation between the Blacks and the Jews. Unfortunately I don't think much has changed as far as that's concerned.
I have many fond memories of growing up in the concrete jungle. Summertime, of course, is when everything came alive. Empire Skating Rink, block parties, Labor Day Parade, Italian icys and opening up the fire hydrants and wetting anyone that walked by. Unfortunately violence was much more prevalent back then too. As i reminisce on the old days I can't help but to be thankful that things are a lot safer than they used to be. I've witnessed everything from stabbings to shootings—needless to say I have seen it all. Not to say that those things aren't still occurring, but gentrification is definitely changing the face of Brooklyn.
I appreciate having grown up in such a diverse city. The raw madness of it has helped shape me into the person I am today. I take great pride in being a born-and-raised Brooklynite. Something about this place gives you a resilient edge that can get you through anything. I guess that's why so many people flock here to experience the culture and creativity that runs through this borough. I have taken my adversity and used it as ammunition to prove that nothing can stop you from getting what you want out of life. You also can't use where you came from as an excuse to live in mediocrity. Brooklyn is one place that will teach you how to turn water into wine and lemons into lemonade.