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“We Are Brooklyn”

The “We are Brooklyn” exhibit will be at the Brooklyn College Library until November. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

Brooklyn College Listening Project Exhibition Makes Its Debut

By Zainab Iqbal

Published: September 26th, 2018

A Brooklyn College Listening Project (BCLP) exhibition highlighting the stories of immigrants in Brooklyn, “We Are Brooklyn,” made its debut at the Brooklyn College Library two weeks ago.

The exhibition features ten panels of different immigrant stories in the borough.

BCLP allows students from various disciplines to go out and interview someone for about an hour, resulting in an oral history that would be archived.

This exhibition was made possible after Jessica Siegel, a BC Journalism professor and founding member of the BCLP had received a grant from Humanities New York.

The Listening Project “serves our community and delivers the wisdom of the community back to Brooklyn College, back to students, back to the classroom,” President Michelle Anderson said. She noted that BCLP encompasses different disciples and that is what makes it so great.

BC President Michelle Anderson speaks with students and faculty at the “We Are Brooklyn” exhibit. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

The exhibition features stories from a DACA student who is now unprotected, Council Member Jumaane Williams’ mother, a man who didn’t see his mom until he was five, a single mom, and many more.

“Here we are in one of the most diverse places in the world, Brooklyn,” Anderson said proudly, before adding “the language we speak here of diversity and engagement is language that is around the world, people know Brooklyn increasingly because it’s experiencing this incredible renaissance.”

Jeffrey Verna, a Bensonhurst resident that originally grew up in Parkside was interviewed by his sister-in-law. He spoke about how his strict Haitian mother kept him away from getting involved in the crime in his neighborhood, especially those involving illegal narcotics.

Verna, a photographer, and videographer said his interview, “To put it straightforward: I am a black man in America, so it’s difficult. You’re already a target just being black.”

When Pedro Batista was five years old, he was sent to live with his mother in New York who barely knew. He eventually got involved in a street gang.  Now, he lives in Harlem with his family.

“This is what the humanities and social sciences do; this is what we bring to the table,” Kenneth Gould, Acting Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences said about the exhibit.  

“This is what Brooklyn is. This is why Brooklyn is the best place in the world to be,” he laughed.

“It’s where everybody wants to be, which is why our rents keep going up.”

The exhibition will be in the Library until November.

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