Skip to Content
My Brooklyn cover image

My Brooklyn 2012

Highly Recommended

Distributed by New Day Films, 190 Route 17M, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926; 888-367-9154 or 845-774-7051
Produced by Kelly Anderson, Allison Lirish Dean
Directed by Kelly Anderson
DVD, color, 76 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Political Science, Social Sciences, Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Areas

Date Entered: 11/14/2014

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

This is an excellent work on re-zoning, gentrification and urban development using downtown Brooklyn and its underlying areas as the backdrop for this film. Prof. Anderson is a Hunter College Professor in the Urban Studies Department and her research there is very good. The film explores such areas as the then called “Do or Die Bed Sty” as told by Dr. Craig Wilder, Professor at M.I.T. and other areas of Brooklyn that were graded on the basis of ethnicity from A to D. A “D” grade received no benefits which after examination proves to be predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The viewer is introduced to terms like ‘redlining’, the intentional practice of denying, or charging more for services such as banking, insurance, access to health care, or even supermarkets, or denying jobs to residents in particular, often in racially determined areas. This film explores this aspect of what downtown Brooklyn went through from a predominantly integrated community to a predominantly Black and West Indian community.

The demographic changes evident throughout this film illustrate the challenges of gentrification and community response to these ever-evolving changes still taking place today. It further illustrates how public policy destroyed many of the lives that were impacted by the plans for change for the downtown Brooklyn area. Available space is not affordable space as pointed out by those proponents who opposed or saw issues with the Department of City Planning, the Department of Economic Development and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership with little or no oversight. In short, large chunks of these neighborhoods were sliced and diced with little or no regard about the people who lived or had businesses there. Anderson follows the money trail in this powerful film. Development is not the “be-all of the City.” In 2007, construction of the downtown Brooklyn Mall area begins in full earnest which included luxury high-rise apartments marketed to a different type of person from the ones who typically shopped in downtown Brooklyn. The residents and local businesses are then pushed out. New York City has become a highly segregated city using –rezoning tactics, with no requirement to include affordable housing. The resulting impact points to gentrification politics, subsidies for real estate owners sponsored by the Mayor, The New York City Council Speaker and other interested parties looking to change the landscape of Brooklyn at the expense of its long-time residents. “The history of the American city is in itself one of cyclical displacement, but here the apparent lack of transparency and official callousness as illustrated in this film are especially troubling. It rings true of a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ ” as indicated in New York City’s current Mayor, Bill DeBlasio’s speech on January 1, 2014 when he was sworn into office.