All posts by Kwan Holloway

Harryson Civil’s Interview as told to Kwan Holloway

Harryson Civil’s family was living in Haiti with no opportunities, and barely and help from anyone. When it became too much, they fled to America in search of acceptance, love, and a brighter future. After coming here, Harryson’s life has done nothing but improve.

The Early Years
I was born in Port-au-Prince, it’s the capital of Haiti. It’s really loud there and there’s a bunch of people, always working and doing many others things. Continue reading Harryson Civil’s Interview as told to Kwan Holloway

Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY

Flatbush, Brooklyn

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Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn College: 40.632845, -73.947601
Yo Yo Fritaille!: 40.650458, -73.952603
Kreyole Flavor!: 40.627706, -73.942695
Haitian Family Resource Center: 40.626496, -73.940976
Churches of Flatbush: 40.625944, -73.940436
Magic Kutz!: 40.624311, -73.938589
Foundations for Life: 40.624826, -73.939540
The Return Trip: 40.632845, -73.947687
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Hello all and welcome to our tour of Flatbush, Brooklyn. If you’re looking fun and adventure, this is the tour for you! We’ll be guiding you down Flatbush Avenue and showing you the important locations that you need to know about.

Here's a little background on Flatbush. It was ruled by the Dutch in the mid 1600's, and was comprised mostly of flatlands until it became part of Brooklyn in the late 1800's. This is when it started to become the Flatbush we know, containing many shops and attractions. The name Flatbush is derived from the dutch word "vlacke bos" which means "wooded plain" or "flatland". Flatbush is now one of the most populated places in New york City. There was a large influx of Caribbean immigrants in the 1970's and 1980's. This is how Flatbush because known for it's Caribbean culture!

Our tour will guide you to the Haitian spots in this mixed community. Our tour will start from Flatbush Avenue, near Brooklyn College. This intersection is the largest hub area in Flatbush where people hang out, purchase goods, and get to and from Brooklyn College. Brooklyn College has a Haitian American Student Association, which aids in educating Haitian students about their culture, heritage, and also tries to address the needs of Haitians in the Flatbush Community. They are part or a larger collection of Haitian Associations throughout the city. Near you are the 2 and 5 train lines, which are always busy because they are the only trains in the immediate area. They are located at the intersection between Flatbush and Nostrand avenues.
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For our first stop we will be heading to church avenue. To get to our destination, Yo Yo Fritaille, you will need to walk up Nostrand avenue from Flatbush Avenue. Walk up Nostrand until you get to Church avenue, then take a left and walk to Rogers. Yo Yo Fritaille is located at 826 Rogers Ave.

Food is a large part of the Haitian culture and community, it serves to unite its people and allow them to share and revel in their Haitian culture. The Haitian community is very large in Flatbush, but the amount of Haitian food spots is lacking, so they take any chance they can to get food that is native to them

Yo Yo Fritaille is a Haitian restaurant that is known for its amazing Haitian cuisine.  It's known for it's delicious Griot, which is fried pork chunks, and also for the goat with gravy that they make.  Being that this is one of the few Haitian restaurants in the area, it has become a sort of hot spot for people looking to have some traditional Haitian food.
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After going to Yo Yo Fritaille, turn around and walk down Nostrand avenue, back to Flatbush Avenue. Begin walking down Flatbush and note what you see; many Caribbean restaurants, which are more evidence of the Haitian community in Flatbush.  At 1738 Flatbush Avenue, you’ll find a restaurant named “Kreyole Flavor”, after the Haitian language, Creole; this Haitian restaurant offers Flatbush a taste of the Haitian culture while also offering a place for socializing. They are known for their amazing plantains and Griot, which again is fried pork. Because there is an absence of Haitian restaurants around Brooklyn, much flock to Kreyole Flavor to get their fill of great Haitian food. The restaurant offers a variety of Caribbean and American cuisine, which has helped the restaurant become the hot spot around the area!

Flatbush is known for being dominated by Caribbean people and in the last 10 years many restaurants have been opened to appeal to the different Caribbean cultures. Kreyole Flavor is one of those restaurants and has brought in Haitians from all around who crave their culture's cuisines.
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As you continue your lovely stroll down Flatbush Avenue, if you look to your left or cross the street, you’ll see the Haitian Family Resource Center. Roughly 34% of Flatbush is Haitian, and the resource center offers lawyers for any legal matters this community might have, as well as translations, and counseling. The resource center was built here in Flatbush following the 2010 earthquake, which destroyed much of Haiti. The center’s main goal is to provide a range of resources and support for the Haitian community. They aid people in many ways, including promoting economic growth, education, independence, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing of Haitian-Americans, especially those Haitians directly effected by the Earthquake.
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Continue walking on Flatbush Avenue and you’ll realize that you’ve probably seen a reoccurring feature of the area, if you’re unsure what we’re talking about; we’re talking about churches! Soon you’ll get into a less populated area dominated by mom and pop shops. As you walk, take a look at both sides of the street until you reach 35th or 36th street. As you walk, you’ll notice that there are many different churches in the area that serve the people of the community. They serve many of the Caribbeans in the area, mostly Haitians, Jamaicans and Dominicans.  They say that they get most of their visitors on Sundays, and Mondays, which makes a lot of sense. These churches are usually open from early morning to about 3PM when thing start to slow down.
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You’re almost done with this tour! 2 more spots! Make your way to the corner of Flatbush and Hubbard Place to find Magic Kutz Barber Shop! Beauty shops and hair salons are one of the prominent social hubs of the Haitian community of Flatbush! This particular barbershop/beauty salon is primarily and originally for men but has just recently gotten a lot of buzz from the female crowd. Situated between Hubbard and 37 streets on Flatbush Avenue it is one of the social hubs of the area. Usually beauty parlors for women get most of the attention but this one, even though isn’t female dominant is also quite popular. Its open till 10 pm almost everyday and is always bustling. People are there not only to get a signature haircut but also to catch up on the talk of the town and see their fellow community members. This barbershop is a gossip spot for all the latest news on the community. If something is going on, you can definitely expect to find out at Magic Kutz!
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The final spot on our tour! Take a U turn at Hubbard and walk on the side of the street opposite to Magic Kutz, walk about a block and you’ll find Foundations for Life. Located at 1836 Flatbush Avenue, this after school program/ resource center caters to the youth of the Caribbean (mostly Haitians and Guyanese). This program offers learning programs to help develop academic skills to kids ages 6-8 in the community.  This program also focuses on accelerated learning in order to give the children a head start in school and in life. Most of the students involved are either children or grandchildren of immigrants. Programs are set up to help them read more efficiently, improve school grades, improve in math, and other areas their foreign parents might not be skilled at. The program also provides a place for children to be if their parents are at work or busy. They are very committed to their work and hope to set all of the kids on a good path in life. They hope that this program will help to prevent teen pregnancy in the neighborhood, reduce the number of dropouts, and increase the test scores of minority students. By the end of their time in the program, the children are educated in being "culturally, socially, and  economically self sufficient". This is one of the many readily found resource centers located in this neighborhood.
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We hope that you've enjoyed your tour of Flatbush avenue, through the lens of the Haitian community! From Foundations for Life, walk straight along Flatbush and you will arrive back at our starting point, the intersection between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue.  Please recommend our tour to your friends and family, and have a great day!

Continue reading Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY