Doraian Givens, a third year NYU student, shares her story of attending a “cult” high school – T.M. Landry.
Doraian Givens, a third year NYU student, shares her story of attending a “cult” high school – T.M. Landry.
A conductor of sorts, Carlos Álvarez Nazareno in action is a sight to see. The manner in which he draws attention from a crowd is so skillful it can only be likened to that of a professional performer, yet so dispositional, the attention can’t help but be followed by respect. His way of speaking is in no way cacophonous, a conductor knows just how to control their instruments. On the contrary, Carlos has a very smooth manner of speaking, his cadence incorporating a water-like lull, so that his voice carries the listener up and down to the rhythmic beat of his bobbing intonation. At this particular meeting for Agrupacion Xango, an organization made for and by Afro-descendants in Argentina (including Afro-Argentines, African Americans, and Afro-Latin@s living in Argentina), the respect he elicited from the members would have had any unbeknownst guest assume him the president instead of the general coordinator.
Halfway through the meeting a man — dark, wide shouldered, and soft smiled — came through the door. Carlos introduced this man to the attendees and prompted him to speak on the precarious state of the Senegalese community in Buenos Aires. He informed the room of that local police are making it more and more difficult for them to work, most usually street vending, and with their lack of lawyers, there is a widespread yearning within their community to move to Chile. This policial abuse is just one of the many facets of discrimination against black faces within the country. The various forms of racism are both implicit and explicit, micro and macro, whispered and shouted. Alongside institutional racism they manifest in fear, hypersexualization of black women, and invisibilization.
The Senegalese story sparked a dialogue about the abuse the community is facing by the police which mirrored a very similar conversation witnessed by New York University student in attendance, Michelle Jones. She expressed that Carlos “favors a more forward approach to activism,” which is exactly what she saw when she attended a march on El Día Internacional de Lucha contra el Racismo, or the International Day of the Fight Against Racism. Carlos, as well as the Xango collective and other members of the Afro-Argentine community, made an act of denouncement in front of El Congreso Buenos Aires. She bore witness as Nazareno informed the crowd about the case of Massar Ba, a local Senegalese activist murdered on March 7th 2016. Ba was found by a neighbor with multiple injuries to the head, hip, and lower abdomen, screaming “they want to kill me”. Despite the gravity of his injuries the police arrived late, and only to call an ambulance. There was virtually no investigation and no records were taken of the crime scene. “The speech was so powerful,” Michelle recounted, “as an activist myself, he executes exactly what the community needs and what I hope to eventually be doing too.”
Back at the meeting, the dialogue was followed by plans for a group field trip to the United States and a discussion on Xango’s possible collaboration with New York University to teach its members English. He managed to pass the floor back and forth between members and himself seamlessly, like a game of tennis. As the match came to its end, Carlos gathered his coat and bag, his next stop the March for Marijuana.
After this meeting, I found out just how difficult it is to track Nazareno down. From council to march, meeting to protest, he keeps himself busy with activism. Between this and his job in the government, little is more difficult than setting up a meeting with him. Sunday he was busy. Monday he was so busy he couldn’t make the scheduled meeting. Tuesday, he had no free time until 7.30 pm, and still couldn’t make it until 8:00. He entered the restaurant in a calm but brisk manner, with his dreadlocks tied neatly so as to fall as one raven wave down the small of his back, managing to elicit interest from the entirety of the café. Yet, the steady stares he received could not solely be attributed to his poise. A common occurrence in Argentina for those with black skin, Carlos knows firsthand, as a human rights leader and a black man himself, the struggle of being Afro in Buenos Aires. This case in point, is one of invisibilization, or erasure, of those of African descent, resulting in the starring, as the black presence is underestimated, and thus over-examined.
Carlos’s niceties were warm, but brief, as he chose to immediately delve into the topic of police brutality before even settling into a seat. He had spent the entirety of his weekend petitioning for the freedom of 18 Senegalese immigrants that had been wrongfully handcuffed and detained by the police for over 36 hours without food or water, solely for street vending. His passion in recounting the story made it very clear that his involvement in the community took precedence over any other facet of our meeting. Before he even opened his menu, Carlos spent many minutes describing the case of the detained Senegalese, and after opening it, many minutes discussing the current racial political climate.“There is a large level of violence and mistreatment from the police” he asserted, before ordering a cafecito and muffin.
Nazareno is a native to bordering Uruguay. Born in Ansina, a “traditional” afro-uruguayan barrio in the capital city of Montevideo, his family changed locations to another neighborhood in 1976 due to displacement by dictator Juan María Bordaberry Arocena. In 1983, he moved to Palermo, Uruguay to begin school. At the age of 18, he met a young activist that introduced him to a group of black youth working to better their community. And with this moment, he began to familiarize himself with the fight against racism.
“My blackness was never a conversation point during my childhood,” he said. “There is a higher density of black people in Uruguay, the population is 10% black. Therefore we more of a visibilization. We have created such important things, such as candombe music. Racism and discrimination are much more explicit here in Argentina”.
Fast forward from that initial moment to the age of 41, he has two daughters and resides in Buenos Aires. While he maintains a strong link to Uruguay and his family, most members now having converted to activists himself, he shows no qualms about being here in Argentina. “I started a life here, have two daughters here, I have no regrets about working for the freedom of marginalized people from Argentina,” he asserts.
This is, of course, in addition to his day job . He works in the nation’s human rights secretariat, focusing on the Afro perspective. While this description aligns perfectly with his personal objectives, some tension does arrive. Nazareno works under the office of Mauricio Macri, the current president of Argentina. A right wing post-neoliberal, Macri backs policies that many Argentines feel do not benefit them, usually Argentines that are not white. This other side of Carlos professional life, fairly adverse to his progressive sentiments, seem to be the only open criticism of Carlos’s within the community.
“How can I trust someone that works for such a, oppressive government?” questions Gabrielle Pita at a meeting for DIAFAR, another local Afro-Argentine group. During conversation about local race relations, I brought up the steps Carlos had been taking to better them, causing him to express his displeasure with Carlos’s seemingly “double” position, stating how no-one who opposed the presidency could work in such proximity to it.
“He helps them plan events, implement policy, do you think Malcolm X would have done something like that?” he exclaims with a tight tone of mistrust and betrayal. Pita closes his argument with a note of apprehension, informing me to take Carlos’s words with a grain of salt. “He’s influenced by money, wherever it goes he will”.
Carlos voices his disdain for his job himself. “I don’t believe in this government,” he said. In fact, during the election of 2015, he was in support of Daniel Scioli, Mauricio Macri’s Justicialist opponent. “The government has the responsibility to work for the Afro-community,” he stated, but feels as though it doesn’t, labelling it a “contradictory” state. At the same time, he holds no shame or bashfulness about his position within it. “I believe that it is my job to help the state remain mindful of public policies for the Afro community and to ensure that they create spaces for Afro-descendant inclusion,” he said. Nazareno does not limit his activism to respectability parameters for his place of work either. Carlos spends much of his time calling out the state directly. “Being a part of the secretariat doesn’t stop me from denouncing the government’s wrongdoings.”
The tension doesn’t stop on a professional level for Carlos. A gay man, he often times finds himself working alongside communities that might not be receptive to his orientation. “Especially with the Muslim African Immigrants, the men might have a homophobic perspective”, he explained sans an ounce of self pity, “but once working with me, they think nothing of it and respect who I am because they understand the different contexts.” He highlights the tendencies between these two communities to undermine one another. “The white gay community can be racist, xenophobic, and classist while the Afro community can be homophobic,” he said. Yet, Nazareno maintains the ideals of intersectionality, a term he continually became excited to use, and of different marginalized communities coming together in order to achieve an overarching freedom. “My identities are nothing more than things that strengthen me” he asserted. By this time, he had just unwrapped his muffin.
Nicolás Parodi speaks in a manner of brisk assurance, his voice bursting through the phone in a succession of crisp quips, despite the torrent of honks and footsteps emanating from the city he paces through. The clarity of his speech, a Castellano that is deep, smooth, and patient, in contrast to the city noise, is no surprise considering his stature. Parodi stands at about 6’3″, and with a rounded out frame and light brown complexion that would contextually be described as “cafe con leche”, there would be no easier feat than to pick him out from a crowd. What is most notable about the photographer sits atop his head. A nest of thick black hair protrudes from his scalp for about two inches before morphing into a streamline of rope-like raven tresses. The ebony branches fall haphazardly around him, some reaching a callus beard just as dark, and others dusting against the small of his back. His dreadlocks, tokened las rastas in Spanish, are formulated in a simultaneous two step process, during which one teases a crochet needle through a section of hair until it is matted, then twisting the resulting tangles. Once completed, the individual partitions dangle like course vines stemming from the wearer’s head.
In Argentina, this process of locking is mostly conducted in an informal manner at neighborhood fairs by groups of hippies. There are not many places to get them done professionally in Buenos Aires. Most sought out by the younger generations of Argentina; the girl with a spiked lip piercing at the bar or that college grad at the park with a skateboard and skinned knee cap, las rastas are a commonality in Buenos Aires, and have been for a substantial amount of time. “They started to get popular around 10 years ago”, Nicolás shoots through the receiver, “but only with certain groups, not everyone.”
One of the more notable groups within this demographic is the Rastafarian, a practitioner of the Rastafari religion from which their famously sacred hairstyle assumes its Spanish moniker. The movement began in Jamaica during the 1930s. Its followers believe in a black God (Jah), that members of the African diaspora (now exiled and lost as a result of the colonialist slave trade) are destined to return to their ancestral lands on the continent, and that the is messiah incarnated in Haile Selassie, emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.
Being a lifestyle in addition to a belief system, there are many popular elements of the culture that its followers are known to adhere to, their dreadlocks being the most visible. Additional aspects of the Rastafari movement common among Argentine loc-wearers include displays of the religion’s three representative colors: red (for blood), yellow (for mineral gold), and green (for earth), as well as a perpetual consumption of marijuana, to the Rastaman, a special gift from God.
“They are [locs] associated with people that smoke weed” Nicolás chuckles before emphasizing his refusal to partake. But, despite the demographic’s acquisition of all things deemed Rasta, it is not belief that influences the trend. Rastafarians make up a very minute percentage of the overall population of Buenos Aires (they only total a million world wide). Here in Argentina, locs do not have much of a religious significance. Rather, they serve as a fashion statement. The Rastafari lifestyle, spread through its musical counterpart of reggae, is simply viewed as an aesthetic.
Reggae is a trance inducing sound born from the slums of Jamaica. It arrived in Buenos Aires with the imported records of esteemed musician and Rastafarian prophet, Bob Marley, at the start of the 1980s. Instrumentation typically consists of a guitar, an organ, the bass guitar, drums, and an array of horns that all come together in a symphony of island passion. Due to the multitude of Rastafari practitioners utilizing the genre to decree their values of love, peace, and black unity, the music’s culture is intertwined with that of the religion, to the point that one necessitates the mention of the other. And when the sound touched base in Argentine, so did the Rastafari.
“Wherever reggae goes Rasta follows” Pablo Kalezic asserts. On the right side of his corded neck rests a thickly tattooed black ankh, an Egyptian hieroglyph that resembles a hooded cross. It is not an image associated with the Rastafari, but the symbol displayed proudly atop his skin illustrates his connection to Africa. According to him, “music is a part of righteousness” and reggae is the music of the poor, the sound of the rebel. A forty-three year old Rasta since the age of sixteen, the drummer sees that today the music’s culture “is more cool than spiritual.” Pablo does not have dreadlocks, as he states they “are not a necessity.” Yet, this does not stop him from having an acute sense of their importance. “Half of the people that have the locs don’t know the history behind them nor Rasta…” he states with a slightly heated exasperation.
Later, on the phone, Nicolás even states that most dreaded Argentines are “not usually Rastas, just people who like the culture,” himself included. The Rastafarian religion is one of inclusion, with love being its biggest requirement. But its core values, such as the black exodus from a white oppressor, prove to be a polarizing ideology for those who do not fit into the category of lost, sanctified children. Thus, reggae music serves as the non Afro-Argentine’s/ Afro-descendant’s relation to Africa and blackness.
As reggae becomes more and more popular in Buenos Aires, so will the hairstyle, though the fashionability does not seem to ensure its longevity. The trend carries with it societal connotations of filthiness, laziness, and weed (known as ganja to the Rastafari). Pablo affirms that in some places the hair is “treated like a crime,” and having the style often interferes with potential work. Many locals that once had the locs eventually cut them off as they get older. For Parodi, out of a work base of 2000 people, he was the only one with dreads. “There are not many white-haired people with las rastas” he professes.
It might seem counterintuitive, but in this digital era, the owner of a nearly 100-year-old Manhattan typewriter store says his shop is “busier than ever.”
Jay Schweitzer says that he and his team at The Gramercy Typewriter Company, founded in 1932, work seven days a week at their new West 17th Street location to meet the demand from millennials and teenagers clamoring for an old-fashioned writing machine.
“They’re so distracted when they sit in front of a computer that they get no work done,” says Schweitzer. His customers, he believes, are looking for something that will help them avoid digital interruptions.
Schweitzer also says that typewriters are increasingly purchased by parents as “learning tools” for their children to teach keyboard and spelling skills, since they aren’t equipped with the autocorrection found on a computer or smartphone.
The store stocks machines from different eras, ranging from a 1930s Underwood to a 1980s IBM, to suit individual preferences. Customers who come in for repair get to see “hands-on” what’s wrong so they can learn for themselves. Maintaining its traditional approach to business, the store does not allow for online ordering or shipping.
And according to Schweitzer, whose family has maintained the shop for three generations, people come from all over the country to visit. His grandfather started the business in a small Gramercy office, before transitioning to a location near the Flatiron Building, where it stayed for 48 years. Schweitzer stated that the store’s new location gives it better visibility to passersby.
“We’re not doing this to get rich, we’re doing this because we like it,” added Schweitzer.
Yun shares her experience as a New York-based Chinese fashion designer and the inspiration for her current work.
Matthew Krull, just graduated from NYU Tisch this May, walks us through one of his typical days at New York Fashion Week.
Photo by Griffin Wood
Park Enforcement Patrol Officers arrested artist Oriel Ceballos Sunday night for assaulting an officer in Washington Square Park.
But bystanders and Ceballos have a different account of what happened.
Since the event, videos of the officers tackling, punching and pepper spraying Ceballos circulated on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. An online uproar ensued, with users hashtagging their posts #Justice4Or1el in solidarity.
“A park officer hit him in the head a few times, and the crowd reacted when that would happen, asking ‘why are you arresting him,’” NYU student and eyewitness, Griffin Wood, said. “Once more officers showed up, a sergeant tackled him and pulled him to the ground, putting him in a chokehold. A random civilian tried to grab him, because he used a chokehold, and the civilian is grabbed by a police officer and thrown to the ground.”
Ceballos said he was selling his art in the park — like he’s done for the past three summers — when he was approached with a summons for vending without a table. A policy was passed in the summer of 2018 prohibiting the sale of art in parks without a table or blocking any pathways due to the possibility of imposed inconveniences. According to the official website for the City of New York, failure to comply with this rule can lead to possible arrest.
Ceballos has received 10 summons for not having a table since 2018. He will be making a court appearance to fight the three most recent on November 11th.
“I’ve seen people sell on the ground on days that I would have a table,” Ceballos said. “Nobody would say anything to the artists. So then I just decided, since it’s not a policy that’s enforced, a policy that’s inconsistent, I’m going to choose not to bring a table and minimize my display in a convenient way.”
The videos show the altercation intensify as Ceballos continued to resist arrest.
“This defendant has received multiple summonses and 311 complaints in recent months,” Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Parks Department, Crystal Howard, said. “On the day in question, officers asked him for identification to issue another summons for violating parks regulations. He refused to provide identification and the officer attempted to arrest him. This individual resisted arrest and began to choke the officer.”
The eyewitnesses and Ceballos, however, tell another side to the story.
“These patrol officers are trying to convict Oriel for assault and all these different things that they did to him,” NYU student Raj Kittusamy, an eyewitness, said. “I was there from start to finish, my eyes never left the scene. Never once did he perform any sort of aggressive or altercative action towards them. If their breathing was obstructed, it’s because they were cutting off each other’s oxygen supply by wrapping themselves around his body.”
Ceballos claims that on the day of his arrest, he was never asked for his state ID. When he asked to wait for NYPD to come, the park officers began to arrest him.
“It got to the point where they’d started writing me tickets without asking for my ID,” Ceballos said. “The tickets just came to me. I realized that they must have memorized my information, or they had it at the office. But they could issue me a ticket anytime at will, so I stopped accepting them.”
The arrest lasted about 30 minutes, during which Ceballos claims his rights were never read to him. Kicked, kneed and punched, Ceballos said he was never told why he was being arrested, only that he was resisting arrest.
“Even after I was pepper sprayed, handcuffed and restrained, I was never read my rights,” Ceballos said. “I was taken out of the park, taken to the 6th precinct and restrained in a cell like a criminal until midnight. When I’m being transferred from the precinct to the bookings, I’m still asking ‘why am I being arrested, why am I going to jail?’ Nobody said a word. After I’m in a cell until 9:30 am, once I’m in court, I find out that I’m being charged with assault.”
Ceballos was released without bail, after the Judge decided there was not enough evidence of assault to continue holding him. His court date is set for November 13th. He plans to file a lawsuit against the park officers involved.
CREDIT VAPING360.COM (VAPING360), FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS (CC BY 2.0)
Josh Raiff used an e-cigarette for the first time when he was 16. Since then he’s gone from “smoking a pod a day” to trying to quit nicotine products altogether. When he heard about Donald Trump’s plan to ban flavored e-cigarette products he asked, “Does making the drinking age 21 stop kids from drinking?”
“About one in three of my friends JUUL” said Raiff,19, referring to one of the most dominant brands among e-cigarettes. “Most of them say they’re trying to quit, but honestly, they’re not really.”
An outbreak of deaths and illnesses related to the devices has brought increased scrutiny to e-cigarette use among teens. As of today, the CDC has reported over 500 serious lung related injuries and over 10 deaths, all linked to the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. In the wake of these deaths many have highlighted the role e-cigarette flavors play in attracting teens to the products. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also announced he’s pursuing an emergency ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products in New York.
“The very design of the product makes it seems like a cool trendy product,” he said.
According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 20 percent of students report using e-cigarette products, with the vast majority reporting using fruity or other non-tobacco flavors. But while flavor may play a role in attracting students to the products, many experts question their relationship to the recent outbreak of fatalities.
“That has nothing to do with e-cigarette flavors [and] nothing to do with nicotine,” said Dr. David Abrams, a professor at New York University with over 40 years of experience in tobacco and nicotine research.
“All of these are due to a sudden outbreak of illegal and contaminated marijuana oil products,” said Abrams. The real danger, Abrams said, is that banning flavored products may encourage consumers to create their own flavors or buy from un-official and unsafe vendors.
Abrams also stressed the benefits that flavored e-cigarettes can have to people, including teens, who smoke cigarettes.
“We have very strong evidence that more than 60 percent of the teens who are using flavored e-cigarettes used to smoke, so you’re taking away the off-ramp away from a deadly product more than you’re stopping a gateway into smoking,” said Abrams.
Others in the industry have placed their hope in other policies which they believe can help reduce e-cigarette use among teens, while preserving it as an option for adult smokers hoping to switch.
“If I thought that banning flavors would get this out of the kid’s hands, I would be for it,” said Shawn Hayes, who owns and operates an independent vape shop in Burnsville, Minnesota.
Hayes said that the industry is willing to work with regulators and expressed support for policies such as raising the age requirement for purchases, increased regulation on which stores are able to sell e-cigarettes products, and increased focus on educating the public.
“This falls on the shoulders of the parents, the school, the community,” said Hayes. “It falls on all our shoulders. To take away the flavors, it’s not gonna stop it.”
With heads hung low and baseball caps in hand, over 100 union workers gathered in front of the New Line Structures corporate building Wednesday afternoon to mourn the deaths of seven construction workers in the city. Six of the men had lost their lives on non-union sites.
The rally began by reading off the names of the deceased, the moment of silence piercing through Midtown traffic. Joe Scopo, head organizer of District Council 16 of the Cement and Concrete Worker and organizer of the event, then took the microphone to relay the tragedies that many non-union, and undocumented, workers face.
Scopo listed instances of workers not given harnesses and other proper safety equipment, unpaid labor lasting up to months and minimal protection. He explained to the crowd with fervor that when bad companies hire bad subcontractors, good people can die.
“The skyline of New York should be built on the sweat, not blood, of its workers,” Scopo said. “New York is a union town, New Line we’re coming after you.”
The crowd cheered and raised their fists in solidarity.
New York City construction companies have been increasing their subcontracting to non-union workers because of the rising cost of union labor in America. The immigrant status, often undocumented , of many non-union workers allows construction companies like New Line to exploit their wages, the protestors said. In 2019, 93 percent of on site deaths in New York were on non-union sites.
“I can’t believe it got so bad so quickly for workers as far as so many people dying in the last year,” electrician Bill McGrath said. “But the main culprit in worker death is the non-union movement, the anti-union movement in New York City. The more that things become non-union, the more people die, the more people get hurt, and the less people make.”
New Line Structures could not be reached for comment.
The rising cost of construction supplies and land has skyrocketed the demand for cheap labor. Jobs that have traditionally been all-union are now switching over to non-union subcontractors, most notably the construction of Hudson Yards, which was only the beginning of what is now a movement. According to The New York Times, in 2019 unions have accounted for just 20 percent of new private construction and renovation.
“We are here because New Line hired another company who didn’t pay us,” electrician Victor Hernandez, 30, said. “We were working there for more than six months, and they pay us the first three months and the rest they kept saying ‘we are waiting for New Line, we are waiting for New Line… wait keep going, keep going.’ After three months we quit.”
Socialist Worker Party candidate for Public Advocate in New York and volunteer writer for The Militant, Seth Galinsky, urged the crowd to reach out to public representatives like New York City Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Labor.
“I think no worker should die on the job because of the greed of the bosses,” Galinsky said. “I came here to be in solidarity with the workers that are standing up. Really they’re not fighting just for themselves, they’re fighting for the whole working class, and that is really important.”