10) A growing nightlife takes hold
A vibrant nightlife is emerging with the addition of several new nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Becoming a club promoter, dj and a local socialite is an attractive route for many of our young people. However, there are increasing reports of assault, drunk driving and health concerns caused by smoking of hookah within these establishments.
9) A park in the sky
An exciting, grass root movement involving numerous stakeholders is taking shape to advance the proposal to transform the old rail tracks in South Queens into beautiful green, recreation space. Revitalized after the success of the Highline in Manhattan, the proposal is expected to offer significant benefits to residents, businesses and to the overall quality of life. We are proud to see Indo-Caribbeans involved in this transformative initiative!
8) Turning point at the Phagwah Parade
This year the parade proved once again that it is perhaps the single biggest event in South Queens in its ability to attract both crowds and controversy. With a new sheriff in town at the 106th Precinct, police officers apparently received directions to confiscate abir (powder) from parade-goers without discretion. While the rules about the use of abir along the parade route have been relaxed since the anthrax scare after 9/11, this year saw a clear tightening. The parade organizers bravely sided with the NYPD, while promising to negotiate more cultural sensitivity at the 2012 parade.
7) Placing a bet on South Queens
International gambling giant Genting opened their New York outlet at the Aqueduct Racetrack to huge crowds and guarded-optimism from local residents. Even before their doors opened, the powerful lobby for full-scale gambling began to gather pace. The social impact of this project will be better known in 2012.
THE COURIER/Photo by Ricky Casiano
6) Welcome to Richmond Hill
A new sign welcoming folks to Richmond Hill was unveiled in front of Sybil’s Restaurant on Liberty Avenue with the slogan “A Community with Pride”. Long a site for sore eyes, the triangle was beautified and, accordingly to the sign, it was donated and will be maintained by local business owner Romeo Hitall and his family. While some detractors were surprised to see Mr. Hitlall’s civic side many were equally surprised to learn that the project was in the works for several years.
We saw, in many cases for the first time, the once-popular Muslim tradition of Hosay in its full grandeur. As part of their annual Kitchrie Festival, the Rajkumari Cultural Center pulled out all the stops to honor and revitalize this Trinidadian contribution at a two day spectacular with the iconic Unisphere as the backdrop. Kudos to the artistic vision at Rajkumari as they prepare to move into their new space on Liberty Avenue in 2012.
4) Hindus sing the blues
What started as an inconspicuous attempt to build relationships between Richmond Hill’s Hindu and Sikh communities ended on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal. The dispute started when neighborhood resident Rohan Narine proposed screening the critically-acclaimed film Sita Sings the Blues at his Mandir followed by a private hall only to be rebuffed each time by a few ultra conservatives. The screening ended up being in his living room where a lively, open discussion with the film’s director and local activists ensued. Many were stunned and left to wonder, did conservatives just hijack this particular issue or is this the signal of what will be a growing trend for the community and is there an underlying perspective that Caribbean Hindu’s are step-children to an RSS vision of Hinduism?
3) More than just talk
Billed as the only Indo-Caribbean talk show, "Let’s Talk with Lakshmee" hits its stride in 2011. The show, hosted by Lakshmee Singh, focused heavily on contemporary issues confronting New York’s Indo-Caribbean and South Asian communities. From politicians, to religious figures, to musicians and important events–the show had it all. Combined with a new set design, it’s no wonder the show was picked up in Long Island and even more importantly, it airs in Guyana.
Uli Seit for The New York Times
2) Revamping John Adams & Richmond Hill
The overcrowding problems are nothing new, but the performance of both major high schools in the community, John Adams and Richmond Hill, are among the lowest in New York City. In many cases, graduation rates barely surpassed 50% and attendance among many Indo-Caribbean teenagers is inconsistent, parental involvement is among the lowest and partnerships with local organizations and the schools are few. Some cite the reluctance of the DOE to hire local teachers as another problem. Either way, major changes are expected in 2012 and it’s not clear whether this will be beneficial for the students.
1) Drawing Electoral Districts
Activists, community organizers and political aspirants are enthusiastically waiting for the redistricting taskforce (LATFOR) to share their maps of the new State district lines. A long-time gripe of the community, several local organizations and individuals actually testified at hearings over the summer advocating for fairer representation for the community. With elections scheduled for next year and Governor Cuomo promising to veto LATFOR’s proposals, a protracted battle is expected. Nonetheless, there is a broad expectation that representation for the community will be conceded and some are even preparing to fight for it.
Please let us know if we forgot something. Share your feedback, add to the list and/or repost.
The list is only meant to spark discussion and reflection. In the interest of full disclosure, we explained our participation in different events while we intentionally excluded ICA's core initiatives to offer an objective perspective.