Do Not Gentrify Health

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Vegan food sold by black vendors at the International African Arts Festival

Write. Write. Write. What is it for? To cure my inner demons? Turmoils? Traumas of the world? Is it the source of peace? A random combination of words that crazy people like to put together? Or is it just my soul speaking? Well folks, she’s speaking.

This is something that I just feel like getting off my chest. Recently, I saw someone post something on Facebook that supporting Veganism or indulging in it was supporting slavery. It may have not been those words verbatim, but it was pretty similar. I gaped at the post, rolled my eyes and kept scrolling. However, I have been seeing posts from people dismissing certain foods and seemingly applying it to gentrification. In an article, someone mentioned getting the side eye if you order avocado toast and another hated on sriracha. There is probably another example, but I cannot remember at the moment.

One thing I do not understand is why are some people equating veganism to gentrification. It makes no sense. I understand that the people moving into our neighborhoods are carrying with them their gluten free foods and non-dairy products as well as their lack of culture of the very place their taking over. The overpriced juice bars and dumpling shops come to New York like a green shadow pushing out the small businesses and homes which belong here. I hate what’s happening to New York. Gentrification is making Brooklyn residents strangers to their own home. It’s pissing me and many people who live here off.

However, the healthy choices that comes with it is not the problem. Sure, it definitely is a selling point to those moving in. The foreigners that are invading our neighborhoods can afford to eat healthy so of course the marketing ploy is to get them comfortable and turn a place like Bushwick into something it never was. But the foods in our neighborhoods is the true killer of our people. Seriously, look at what is sold in your corner store. Can you truly say with an honest heart, fingers crossed, and all that good stuff that any of the cuisine in our stores has any nutritional value? What about the chicken spot on the corner or the Chinese food store? It’s easy to eat when you don’t want to cook, but is it something we should be eating all the time?

I work with kids and I see them eat the unhealthiest things. What evil person invented Takis? All the kids rave about them, but many know nothing about how bad it is for them. Do you see this product selling in the Upper West Side? What about Tropical Fantasy?

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French toast the kids at WIN made as a part of the Food In the Big Apple program.

One thing that I have started to become more passionate about is for children to understand more about what they are eating; for them to know how tasty food from the land can be and the joys of cooking food themselves. I work for a program called Food In the Big Apple through my company¬†City Science. We teach kids the science behind food while teaching them different, tasty recipes every week. They learn about the five senses through food, the differences between chemical and physical reactions, the essential food groups, parts of the plant and the importance of local farming. It’s an incredible program that I have great joy in being a part of.

With this program in place, I wish there were more opportunities for nutritional health to be introduced to my people. There is so much people that do not know their health. Here are some facts you may or may not know when it comes to nutrition:

  • Some of the culturally accepted meat dishes in the black community were undesirable leftovers from the slave master. (Chitterlings and pigs feet for example) Our ancestors did this to survive, not because they chose to. (Dude, it’s even mentioned in this Boondocks episode.)
  • Processed foods (the foods in our stores) are a leading cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Sugar is also a leading cause to heart disease and cancer.
  • Consuming too much gluten products can increase your risk of getting Celiac disease.

I am not here to try to convince people to change how they eat. Please eat how you like. You like red meat, feel free to eat it. If you like to only eat vegetables and fruits, please feel free to eat that too. We all have minds of our own and can make choices with them. What I learned through research and by watching all these documentaries is what I believe to be true. However, it is not the same truth for another person. It is important to read on your own, accept your own truth in your own time and make your own decisions.

My point is to highlight that eating healthy is not the enemy. Since my approach to a more vegan diet, I feel more energized when ever I drink a juice blend. I lost a lot of weight. I learned about the diversity of our natural buffet of herbs, vegetables and grains. I learned different ways in how we can fulfill our daily intake of vitamins. I feel healthier in general. Eating this way is what works for me. Eat the way that works for you. I listened to my body. It said “Tiffy, you know this is good for you. Yes! Chicken is amazing, but you don’t need to eat it.”

Why does bringing in a gluten free, dairy free diet have to be a way that’s destroying our culture? In fact, a lot of the culture we have become so accustomed to is part of our painful past. Do we need to continue this tradition especially with what we know now?

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Vegan chicken wrap with the Sutter Solution juice blend from Blendzville.

Why can’t our neighborhoods own healthy eating? There is this up and coming spot in Brownsville called Blendzville. They make the best juices all while appetizing your palette with dishes like the vegan chicken wrap, salmon burger, a quinoa salad and more. And by the way, it’s black owned. I am seeing more juice spots and vegan choices from black owned businesses. It is a beautiful sight to see my people owning their health and making it available to their brothers and sisters.

Going vegan, vegetarian or just making better choices in terms of your health (less meat, more veggies, no sugar, etc) does not have to be part of the “white people taking our homes” thing. Let’s face it, kale salads and green juices are marketed to the rich, heart disease and death is marketed to the poor in the form of chicken wings and beef burgers. We just refuse to see it because of the tempting nature of the very food that is killing us. Get out of the smoky sweet haze of sugary treats and wake up. We can take back our neighborhoods as well as our health.

 

 

 

Spread Love, It’s The AMG Way (Thanksgiving Day Give Back)

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Creativity meets giving back in more ways than one

A day of giving thanks…. do we take it for granted? For the fortunate of us, we have families who however dysfunction they may be, still love and care for us immensely. We get one day to sit surrounded by loved ones and get to fill our bellies with delicious food (Tell me why we do not do this everyday. At least the food part). However, there are so many people out there that do not have a single family member around them. Some have to question when their next meal is coming or how long it will take until the grumbling in their food pits stop. It is terrible that we can not all get to enjoy this family oriented holiday.

Thankfully, there are kind-hearted souls out there who aspire to help those persons in any way that they can. On November 25 (Thanksgiving) in the core of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, AMG (Avenue Music Group) hosted an event to give back. In front of TD bank, volunteers gave their time to distribute clothes, canned and fresh food and toiletries for those of the needy. Creative professionals also donated their talent to the event through poetry, singing, guitar playing, art and more. Collaborations happened, networking happened and smiles formed to all who were able to come through. As one of the volunteers, it put so much joy in my heart to help those less fortunate. I hope we were able to make their lives just a little bit brighter even if for just one day.

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Mike Wilson’s Birthday Bash Divisi6n Style – Brooklyn 2 Tokyo

Movers and shakers traveled from across NYC to the Art Cafe in order to participate in the montly event like no other, Brooklyn 2 Tokyo. For the month of May, this particular B2T was extra special due to everyone celebrating the one and only Mike Wilson. A beautiful day it was indeed – the sun was shining, smiles were a mile wide and the energy was so good you could bath in it.

Street Fighter 4 was wide and live on a projector for everyone to see in the outdoor area. Gamers got the chance to show their stuff to conregators, and everyone else in Clinton Hill. Against the dark, majestic blue sky, Street Fighter never looked better.

While gamers put their passions to the test, a vast array of eclectic pupils zoned in on this house of cool. People enjoyed drinks and conversation diverging on topics from the ever growing cosplay community to the unique qualities of a good drink while DJ Triple Play spinned a bumping mix of hip hop and Kia Sleet sketched an incredible portrait of Malik Champloo.

Inside is where an inner glow of fun was set for everyone in place. First we all sang a great, big mushy birthday tune to the man of the night, Mike Wilson. To witness the strength and growth of this man and his music has been an honor over the past few years. His tenacity, positivity and drive has been an inspiration to the members of Divisi6n and to many others. I, as well as others close to him, were brimming with admiration to be celebrating Mike who has done so well in his endeavers. We are definitely all happy and proud of him. =).

After we all sung a song, Wilson’s best buddy and the CEO to all this greatness Malik Champloo greeted the stage with his explosive performance of “Akira” as well as favorites “Ikki the Reaper” and “Phuket.” Next up was birthday boy himself delivering an enticing show of his singable hits and some delightful treats including “Madison Square” from his latest project A Real Hero. The remarkable collection of talent Freedom Scott and the Avengers took the stage afterwards. This fusion of hip hop, jazz and rock created a dynamic atmosphere for the closing of the night. But of course, the true icing on this spectaular cake was the surprise cypher between all three MCs Freedom Scott, Malik Champloo and Mike Wilson. To fully close the evening, the lovely Mio Soul spinned a most excellent selection of tunes for the audience to groove to.

Art, culture and music was thriving at the Cafe that night. As usual, it was the place to be on a Brooklyn evening. If you missed out, be sure to get your butt in the building at the next one and have the time of your life.

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Cosplay Wonderland at Brooklyn 2 Tokyo

Wake up, get ready, go to work, come home, rest, repeat. This is a common daily routine most individuals complete on a daily basis. In most cases, no surprising changes makes a dent in the schedule. It can drain the creativity thriving within all of us without break. But once the weekend hits or one gets a day off from work, that creativity is let loose. It comes in all forms depending on the person. At Brooklyn 2 Tokyo this past weekend, a very vibrant form of that creativity was able to shake up the spirit jumping inside all of us.

The Art Cafe was the spot for various forms of artistic innovation to blossom. The lavish and detailed garments of some of the guests were adorned with their creativity as well as personality. Cosplayers joined us in our festivities of gaming, a raffle, performances and of course drinking (Cause what else do you do on a Saturday night! The Art Cafe had an intense combination of flavor and alcohol potency in their adequately named drink of the night the “Smash Bros Punch” =)). To begin the night, the cosplayers took to the stage to strut their authentic originality in a costume contest. “Kitana” (Mortal Kombat) and Rahmein “the Uncommon Gent” were the judges for this eclectic display. Joining us for the night was Sonic, Knuckles, Tobi, Black Ash, the Ram and Deadpool. They all did their thing showcasing their diversity through costume. But Alas, the Ram took the grand prize due to her stellar arrangement of floral and brilliant makeup.

The night went on as Rahmein (The Real Mike Wilson?) and the lovely Mio Soul hosted as the awesome fest continued. While some enjoyed the delights of the bar and others showed their skills in the form of rapid button punching, the performances intensified the feel good vibe emanating the place. Sarup Ajay Ram took the stage and gave us a little taste of his excellent word play. Then the sweet Mio Soul cooled the vibe and rocked with us through her soulful croons. Mike Wilson graced the stage with an equally electrifying performance. His catchy, relateable music was easy to sway along to while taking in the immensity of some just issues. (I loved hearing “Sleepy Hollow” live). Malik Champloo provided an explosive performance through his 45 min set. The music and crowd blended together in a harmonious way as everyone sunk into the fortifiable punch of inspirational tunes. After Champloo, Ajay and Mio Soul pumped the crowd up once again with their energetic grooves and swoons on the stage. To close out the night, a gaming competition ensued where controllers were bumped to see who was the best in the latest version of Street Fighter.

All in all, it was a truly excellent night. Brooklyn 2 Tokyo – a truly joyous escape from the mundane routine of the work week. Please escape with us once again at the end of the month in May. Until next time!

Peep this amazing video that pretty much sums up the night!

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A Splash of Japanese Culture at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

It’s something I look forward to every year. Seeing the gentle sway of the Japanese Cherry Blossom trees all lined up and sprinkled around the Brooklyn’s Botanical Garden during Sakura Matsuri is a hard to miss spectacle. I mean seriously, just being in the presence of these delightful treasures will bring on instant peace. Having a bad day? Go to Sakura Matsuri, gaze at these pink wonders and you will immediately forget what made you so upset. Boom! There you go! Of course, I can’t forget the collection of Japanese culture laced throughout along with the luscious greenery and pink.

At the 34th annual festival, even the parking wars, the wrap around lines and the lack of blossoms failed to lower my high of excitement. The grounds were filled with people of different backgrounds and some were dressed in well done Cosplay costumes. It was incredible to see the diversity filling the place. One of my favorite parts of the day was the “Takarabune Dance” by the Awa Odori dance and narimono drum ensemble from Skikoku, Japan. The performers were so full of life; they were literally drenched with enthusisam. I could not understand how they could dance for so long. The performance was eloquent, graceful and at times comedic. It was a treat to hear the repetitive drumming arrangements and see the stylistic movements similar to a crane.

It was fun just walking around the grounds and taking in the sights. Men and women were adorned in these beautiful kimonos and yukatas. And it was hard not to stop and capture the creativity displayed in each Cosplay outfit. My friend Serena and I got to see some pretty impressive creations. The fabulous Un-Re Designs (Who was also at Divisi6n’s first Brooklyn 2 Tokyo) made quite the mark with their unique cutesy accessories. There was also some great literature including a book by Abby Denson about dolls taking back womanhood by defeating the negative idiosyncrasies plastered upon young women.

In all, Sakura Matsuri was an excellent start to the lovely season we like to call Spring. And there was still so much that I missed still. I hope all who attended truly enjoyed themselves. For those who didn’t, you better be there next year – Or else! (Jk) :p

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Brooklyn 2 Tokyo : A Night of 4 Kings

Brooklyn 2 Tokyo was definitely the place to be Saturday night. The vibe at Muchmore’s was magnetic; it was a calm buzz that energized everything from the organisms inching across the floor to the gamer bobbing his/her head on the cozy couches. Diversity filled every inkling of the bar where video game enthusiasts to hip hop heads congregated the Brooklyn venue. Divisi6n brought this eclectic bunch together to become a part of the chemical reaction that is Japanese culture and hip hop. Rahmein (the uncommon gent) and myself were the hosts for the lovely evening.

Kuro Pop joined us again and brought the energy to insurmountable heights through their poptastic dancing curated with bright smiles and precision. DJ Triple Play kept the vibe real cool with his mix of great tunes. While some enjoyed the delights of the bar or just chilled out on the couches, gamers immersed themselves in the kick a** game of Street Fighter. (At the next one, I definitely need to get at least one round in). Mic Blaque shook the stage with his explosive performance along with the gorgeous Kia Sleet. This entertainer went in on some empowering issues as well as keeping the crowd bumping to his delicious sound. Next up was the Head Ninja in Charge, Malik Champloo. The man responsible for this greatness graced us with one tune, but supercharged the energy already electrifying the place. Muchmore’s was stifling with heat as the Real Mike Wilson created a catalyst for the creativity bouncing around the place through his set. For the final performance of the night, Freedom Scott and his band (Scott’s avengers?) blazed the stage with a marvelous musical arrangement of talent and pure dopeness.

The Street Fighter tournament closed out what was a much excellent night. With the likes of Kuropop, Mic Blaque, Mike Wilson, Freedom Scott and Malik Champloo gracing the stage, it was truly a night worthy of royalty. Until next time, Ja matane. (See you later)

For more photos and video, check out Divisi6n.com and feel free to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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The ladies of Kuro Pop on the right with the lovely staff from Muchmore’s

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Freedom Scott and his incredible band

 

La Chocolate’s “Bag Lady” Exhibit Embraces Creativity & Female Empowerment

Chocolatier La Shawn Lukes of La Chocolate Lukes mixed in a blend of art, delicious cuisine, and female empowerment in the “Bag Lady” Photo Exhibit on Saturday night, March 28. I was able to attend this delightful event at the 739 Bar & Grill restaurant in Brooklyn during Women’s History Month. The vibe was cool and eclectic as a diverge sprinkle of attendees chatted, sipped on complementary wine, and immersed themselves in the creative energy emanating the place. This event was all due to a partnership between photography company La Delarosa. The entities merged to highlight the many struggles women face like being a single mother, sexuality, eating disorders, domestic abuse and greed. Delarosa said the series is a “Metamorphosis Through Photos” that shows women through their changes.

“Our goal is to bring awareness to everyday hurt that gets covered up by makeup, excuses, and vices like drugs and alcohol,” said Lukes in a press release. “What we don’t realize is those issues become baggage if they are not properly dealt with, and we all know excess baggage makes the journey difficult! This event will teach women how to give themselves permission to heal.”

All the photography featured at the event were on sale to attendees. Part of the proceeds go to a non-profit organization in NYC called Expecting Relief, a company dedicated to “ensuring providence for families in need.” This all started four years ago when Vanessa Bracetti and her sister were helping out a friend in dire need. Their friend ended up stealing from them after they showed her compassion. Understanding what she was going through, they decided to turn it into something positive. Bracetti said she always enjoyed helping others; she enjoys watching the reactions of people she’s given aid to.

This hybrid of creativity, philanthropy, and women empowerment was a marvelous thing to be a witness of. Entrepreneur La Shawn Lukes, who’s also a radio show host of Riddims & Views on PNC Radio, used her love for female growth to create one dynamic spectacle. I’m excited to see what else she has in store for us in the future.

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Vanessa Bracetti, Founder of Expecting Relief

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Nady Delarosa, Photographer for the Bag Lady Photo Series

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La Shawn Lukes, the lovely lady who put this whole event together

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Delicious treats from La Chocolate Lukes

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Shauna, PR personnel for the event and I