Crown Heights Residents Protest New Bar Exploiting The Neighborhood
Sometimes gentrification isn’t relegated just to “renovating” buildings at the expense of its natives. At times, it also involves the exploitation of the neighborhood itself.
This seems to be the case in Crown Heights where dozens of its residents gathered on Saturday (July 22) outside Summerhill where the self-described “boozy sandwich shop” advertised its cocktails next to a “bullet hole-ridden wall” that served as the remnants of a “rumored backroom illegal gun shop.”
According to the Gothamist, the people of the neighborhood didn’t appreciate how the owner, Becca Brennan, went about promoting her establishment.
“People of color are not props or backdrops,” said Toya Lillard, who is black, and a Crown Heights resident of over 20 years. “If you are new to this community you are duty bound to do some research. To be culturally literate. To know where you are. To know what came before you. It’s not our job to inform you or educate you. It’s yours.”
Aside from using the bullet-ridden wall and rumors of its illegal gun-running history to endorse the shop, Brennan also planned on serving a bottled wine called Forty Ounce Rose in brown paper bags.
Crown Heights residents had enough of Brennan’s for-profit cultural appropriation and made their voices heard with “Bye, Bye Becky” chants outside of Summerhill while Brennan mixed cocktails for the patrons inside of her shop.
“I grew up here for 54 years,” said neighbor Stephanie Simms, who is black. “I watched Colt 45 being bought. I have drank it in my years. Yes, it was a cheap drink and it was in a brown paper bag, but it destroyed lives. So why is it something that you want to monopolize on?”
While Brennan didn’t engage with protestors she has since apologized for her “cheeky” promotion blunder that many consider racist.
Protestors are calling for a boycott of the bar, but as long as hipsters with no understanding of the history of the neighborhood they occupy for months at a time continue to support establishments like Summerhill, it’s going to be an uphill battle for a while.
Photo: screen cap