Near the Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn, New York.
There were not that many African American tablers at the Brooklyn Zine Fest, but there were somewhat more Black attendees. Brooklyn’s fest is not unique in this way; I have yet to attend a zine festival or expo that has significant Black participation. Still, Brooklyn’s organizers are keenly aware of the importance of greater diversity among the festival’s participants, and I am very excited about the possibilities for the future.
This attendee was a really nice guy, and he was intrigued by the idea of a series of drawings of Black men. I sketched him as he browsed at other tables on my aisle, after first giving him a heads-up that he would be likely to see himself in a coming post.
Don’t you just lovelovelove his schoolboy scarf and matching beanie?
The weather in Brooklyn was wildly inconsistent. By the end of the trip, it was somewhere in the high 60s (Farenheit). The first evening I was there, though, it was so cold I thought my fingers were going to freeze and drop off. Since it was April, I didn’t bring a warm coat or even a sweater, and the first night served up some mid-30s temperatures that reminded me of why I’m glad I live in California.
On our first night in the city, this guy was standing in front of a nearby Italian bakery. I simply did not understand how he could possibly be standing outside in nothing but a t-shirt and khakis. If he was jogging or doing some sort of physical labor, it might have made sense to me; but he was really just standing around looking bored.
I know I have lost my tolerance for very cold weather, but this man was some kind of superhero. I hope to run into him again, some day. If I look a little more closely, I just might be able to see his cape.
At Sugarcane Restuarant, 238 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, New York.
One of the highlights of my Brooklyn trip was our dinner at Sugarcane, a Caribbean restaurant on Flatbush Ave. It’s a wonderfully appointed establishment, with silver paint and glass tiles on the walls, dimmed lighting, and wonderful black and white photos on each of the walls. A streaming music service played a steady mix of dancehall, reggae classics, and contemporary R&B.
The mood and decor of the place struck a nice balance between comfy and cool. It was welcoming while still feeling modern and edgy, and the almost exclusively Black crowd ranged from groups of cool 20-somethings to middle-aged couples. (Me and my fabulous partner fell into the latter.)
The food was close to perfect. I had Jerk Chicken Wings followed by a Jerk Chicken Salad. The salad was served with a deliciously savory mango vinaigrette dressing, and the Jerk chicken was absolutely amazing. The wings were flavorful and juicy and the sauce tasted fresh.
We loved our meal so much that, on our last night in Brooklyn, we went back to Sugarcane for the final dinner of our trip.
Crossing Adams Street, Brooklyn, New York.
In the New York metro area of my childhood, I regularly crossed paths with Afro-diasporic folks from throughout the Americas; but I rarely encountered kids who had immigrated from Africa. It’s one of the biggest differences between my experience of NYC in the 1970s and the way New York feels today. Forty years ago, Afro-disaporic New York was populated by people whose families’ migration from Africa to New York involved at least a couple stops on the way–at one of the many places in the Americas where the slave ships made landfall and again at the plantation(s) to which their ancestors were sold. While many Black New Yorkers of the time were immigrants, few such families’ pathway from Africa could truly be called immigration. I was not very different from the other Black kids I knew in that the route my families took from Africa to Long Island, Manhattan, or the Bronx took several centuries, beginning with what can only be called, not the immigration, but the importation of our ancestors.