Photo Insight: In Brooklyn, Push for a Special Haitian District Hits Resistance

The proposal calls for naming an area bounded by Avenue H, Brooklyn Avenue, Parkside Avenue and East 16th Street the Little Haiti Business and Cultural District to “foster a strong sense of belonging, security, and pride among residents, businesses, nonprofits and community groups in Flatbush,” the group wrote in a letter to members of the City Council seeking their support. The district is designed to help promote Haitian-owned businesses, but also includes proposals to create a Haitian cultural center, rename streets and erect a monument. Members of the group backing the idea acknowledge that they can’t stop gentrification but want “to leave a legacy behind, something that says we were here and that our ancestors will be proud of,” said Jackson Rockingster, president of the Haitian-American Business Network

(Story by Jeffery C. Mays)

Read more at The New York Times: In Brooklyn, Push for a Special Haitian District Hits Resistance

I spent some time exploring Flatbush, Brooklyn and documenting a meeting with Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, about the process of designating a section of Flatbush as Little Haiti.

 Ben Flambert, 42, left, at a Haitian-owned barbershop in Brooklyn, supports the idea of a Little Haiti district. “The Haitian presence out here is real strong,” he said. “It makes sense.”

Ben Flambert, 42, left, at a Haitian-owned barbershop in Brooklyn, supports the idea of a Little Haiti district. “The Haitian presence out here is real strong,” he said. “It makes sense.”

 Nostrand Avenue would be part of the area included in a proposed Little Haiti district in Brooklyn.

Nostrand Avenue would be part of the area included in a proposed Little Haiti district in Brooklyn.

 Ricot Dupuy, 64, is the manager at Radio Soeil d’Haiti. “This is Haitian territory but it’s changing,” he says.

Ricot Dupuy, 64, is the manager at Radio Soeil d’Haiti. “This is Haitian territory but it’s changing,” he says.

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Above: Haitian store fronts on Flatbush Ave, which would be part of the area they plan to rename Little Haiti in Brooklyn.

 Committee meeting on the renaming of a section of Flatbush to Little Haiti with Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, City Council member, Jumaane D. Williams , Executive Director of Haiti Cultural Exchange, Regine M. Raumain, Architect, Rodney Leon, President at Habnet Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Rockingster, CEO Fritz M Clairvil, and Tonel Restaurant & Lounge owner Jensen Desrosiers at the office of the Assemblywoman in Brooklyn.

Committee meeting on the renaming of a section of Flatbush to Little Haiti with Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, City Council member, Jumaane D. Williams , Executive Director of Haiti Cultural Exchange, Regine M. Raumain, Architect, Rodney Leon, President at Habnet Chamber of Commerce, Jackson Rockingster, CEO Fritz M Clairvil, and Tonel Restaurant & Lounge owner Jensen Desrosiers at the office of the Assemblywoman in Brooklyn.

  Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, at her office in Brooklyn. 

 Assemblywoman, Rodneyse Bichotte, at her office in Brooklyn. 

 Rodneyse Bichotte, a member of state Assembly, and Jackson Rockingster, of the Haitian American Business Network, are part of the Little Haiti BK organizing committee. Credit

Rodneyse Bichotte, a member of state Assembly, and Jackson Rockingster, of the Haitian American Business Network, are part of the Little Haiti BK organizing committee. Credit

Photos taken for The New York Times.

Demetrius Freeman is a freelance Visual Journalist, who most frequently covers the metro section of The New York Times. For two years, he was a photographer for New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio. His work has been published in CNN, The New York Times, Newsweek, The Tampa Bay Times, and ProPublica. Demetrius has participated in several workshops and seminars including The Mountain Workshop, The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, The New York Times Portfolio Review, The Missouri Photo Workshop, and is an alumni of The Eddie Adams Workshop XXVII. He also supports and contributes in photography volunteer work and provide mentorship to high school photography students. Learn more and send him a note through his website, or follow him on Instagram @demetriusfreeman.