Empowering Black-Owned Businesses And Fighting Gentrification In A Historic Brooklyn Neighborhood
A committee known as “Building Black Bed-Stuy” in the popular Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, is taking a stand against gentrification. Comprised of Black women, the group’s mission is to safeguard, maintain, and elevate the neighborhood’s rich historical heritage.
Founded by Dana Arbib, Nana Yaa Asare-Boadu, Kai Avent-deLeon, and Rajni Jacques, this collective embodies a sense of communal responsibility put into tangible action. The group is dedicated to empowering the few remaining Black-owned businesses in the heavily gentrified Bed-Stuy area.
“The main objective was to find a way to foster our own support and not have to rely on anyone or anything outside of our people to liberate us,” says Avent deLeon.
Meeting bi-monthly, the committee focuses on raising money for nominated entrepreneurs who need support to keep their doors open.
“We want it to help be a driver of Black financial growth and prosperity in our local community and beyond,” says Jacques.
Among the values the group looks for in choosing which businesses to support are service, innovation, and a desire to pour back into the neighborhood, which has lost 35 percent of it Black residents to an influx of new developments, culture vultures, and skyrocketing living costs.
“Building Black Bed-Stuy” has raised $180,000 since its first fundraising term in 2020.
In addition to funding, the committee hosts a weekly marketplace for Black vendors and artisans to sell products. The growing gathering amassed 500 attendees in its first offering. Every Sunday between 12 pm and 5 pm, the community comes out in droves to take in local DJs, dance, and express their joy on Tompkins Avenue.
“The market is an opportunity for small businesses to have a space to come and share their products,” said group member Shani Coleman. “And not just with the community, but with each other.” The last marketplace of the year will take place on October 1.
Currently on their fourth round of funding, “Building Black Bed-Stuy” is raising $30,000 to support Alfreda’s Cinema, Order of the Tents, and Hattie Carthan Community Garden via their GoFundMe.