I’ll admit that I don’t always find it easy to speak my mind. It is a very English trait. My worst nightmare is confrontation of any kind. I will tell the waitress that my meal was good when she clears the plates even if it it was actually a very bad time. I know it is disingenuous but l do it to avoid offence. Of course it can be a good thing to care about others’ feelings but when it paralyses you to act or speak your truth this is not constructive for anyone.
Given my naturally reserved nature, I’m always in awe of those who freely speak their mind with oomph and pizazz. Which brings me to this blog’s purpose: a celebration of Brooklyn’s residents.
I’d never been to Brooklyn before. My vague research led me to believe there would be some hipsters, some coffee places, some gentrified parts, as well as some rough areas.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the people. Like all New Yorkers, Brooklynites aren’t afraid to speak their minds.And in these crazy political times we need them to be more vocal than ever! I’ve seen enough strength of character and personality in just one month to fuel my extrovert fetish for an entire year. Here’s what got me the most:
- The brutal honesty on display at the BRIC Poetry Slam, where young people, some still in school, rhymed their hearts out about their problems, sharing stories of poverty, rape, relationships gone sour and other dark times. All in front of an audience of complete strangers equipped with score cards to rate their poems. Now if that isn’t brave I don’t know what is.
- The mass uprising against Trump: In a city, where difference has always been celebrated and multiculturalism welcomed Brooklynites are far from happy to see xenophobic policies and a sexist leader at the helm of their country. The local news in January was dominated with marches and protests. When not actively protesting, “Not My President” t-shirts and “Pussy Hats” were worn with pride.
- Local workers keen to share their hot tips: As you’d expect, there are plenty of great cafes here where you can tuck yourself away and just observe Brooklynites in their natural habitat. But I also appreciated the willingness of everyone I met in these cafes and bars to share their recommendations with us. Special thanks goes to Raquel the artist/waitress at Beny’s Delice. She wrote her favourite places on a napkin for us, introducing us to her favourite bar in Bushwick. Soren the laid-back barman at Smoking Monkey tipped us off about the best jazz bar in New York. (55 Bar in case you were wondering).
- The free spirits: In my friendly local Brooklyn yoga studio, Dou Yoga, I was really inspired by teachers Ariel and Emily, who put so much personality and soul into their teaching. It takes guts and talent to get up at the front of a class and make a connection with everyone in the room, sharing your life experiences, while teaching all the technicalities of a yoga pose. These yoginis nailed it.
So, Brooklyn, it’s been a blast. Your people have inspired me to want to be more welcoming, more open and more friendly in all aspects of my life; to be more Brooklyn, in fact.