The Brooklyn Bar that Defines Gentrification, & The Locals Fighting it
One of the worst promotional blunders of Brooklyn 2017 – which is saying a lot – has been drumming up controversy and crowds of protesters in Crown Heights.
You don’t have to be from New York City to know that it’s plagued with gentrification. Most of America’s cities are, so why would the largest city in the country be any different? That doesn’t mean transplants are excused from researching and respecting the communities they’re entering – a reminder that one new Crown Heights resident received in true NYC fashion.
Becca Brennan (yes her first name really is Becky) is a transplant from Toronto, Canada. The former corporate tax attorney opened Summerhill in June. A boozy beach themed sandwich shop — located by Nostrand Avenue between Eastern and Atlantic – Summerhill is like the cherry on top of a giant gentrification sundae.
In recent years Landlords have drastically raised the rent in the majority-black neighborhood, just as dozens of coffee shops, bars and restaurants opened catering specifically to the neighborhoods young, affluent and well, let’s be honest, new white occupants. Brennan (cough, cough, Becky) however, managed to go above and beyond these other ornaments of an inherently classist and racist society.
But how you ask? Summerhill specifically emphasizes and even capitalizes on Crown Heights’ history of violence and poverty. The very socioeconomic struggles that have plagued citizens for decades — destroyed families, homes and even scarred future generations – are now being presented as nothing more than the ritzy hang out’s niche aesthetic.
In fact, Brennan herself simply defended the thematic elements as “cheeky.” As in: “C’mon! Forties and gun violence in Crown Heights is adorable you guys! What? Has that, like totally been done here before and not worked out or something?“
These condescending elements include a wall Brennan claimed to be full of bullet holes and, wait for it – a $12 cocktail that is basically an empty “Colt 45” bottle half filled with Rose’ wine and served in a brown paper bag.
Yes, the cheap malt liquor that has destroyed countless amounts of already economically burdened lives and is most likely doing so as you sip your $12 drink just a stoop away, but without all the cheapness, malt liquor and desperation! Wait, this can’t be real. Are they just mocking people? Or are they mocking poor people, native NYers, African American stereotypes, gang violence or what? Does it matter?
No. No, it doesn’t. And natives finally let her know after Summerville’s press release featuring the $12 forty/Rose’ cocktail in front of what Brennan referred to as real bullet holes.
Despite the fact they are clearly just cosmetic damages– with phrases like “most instagrammable” and a “let’s just crush some watermelon cocktails” type of hang out. I know. Did you barf yet? Because there is a whole list of hashtags to use during your “experience” if you didn’t barf yet. Oh ok, you barfed? Cool.
Crown Heights residents responded in true NY fashion – a flash mob chanting “Bye Becky Bye!!” Perhaps the most absurd thing is that as these protesters raged outside over the blatantly racist and classist overtones – Summerhill remained open with customer’s calmly drinking inside.
Keynote speakers climbed up on a ladder outside to rally the outraged crowd with powerful sentiments defending their home and culture as two publicists stood desperately taking notes in an effort to perform what they referred to reporters as ‘crisis management’. What they were writing down, I can’t imagine, but if they managed to get anything down about not exploiting the pain and suffering of vulnerable communities, may I suggest they send a copy to the white house as well?
Heres Becky trying to defend herself and looking more like a jackass!
Summerhill’s original press release, via ‘Becky with the bad taste’: