CHEYENNE-SELFIECheyenne Sookoo is a Junior at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She is a double major pursuing Art and Music. Cheyenne was born on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, and moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2001. Besides photography, she loves drawing and painting.

You get to express yourself in art and nobody can tell you otherwise. It’s the best way to get your feelings, emotions, and thoughts out. Escape the outside world and get lost in your art. Whether Cheyenne is going into photography, graphic, or interior design, she wants to do what she loves. She wants a career doing what makes her happy.

  • Cheyenne Sookoo, 2016, Brooklyn High School of the Arts. "I chose to capture the changing face of my neighborhood in Crown Heights. I wanted to tell the story of the residents and allow them to express their point of view on gentrification and urbanization."
  • “Gentrification is good but it's bad as well. Because you know a lot of the old neighbors they have to move out because they can't afford living around here no more and they get pushed out because of the circumstances unfortunately. I mean it's good in a way because you know a lot of the things that used to go down around here is not happening as much, but we suffer in the long run.”
  • Cheyenne Sookoo, 2016, “They kicking us out! See we paying low rent because we been here so long. So now if they kick us out and they stick a couple more rooms and gadgets in the apartment- because they give us nothing- then where they would normally be getting $ $700 or $800 they can get $2,200. I don't think its fair.”
  • “Gentrification is like a sad process because you see people from your neighborhood leave because all these new expensive things popping around and they can no longer afford the area anymore, and they're forced to leave . . . The culture is being robbed . . . when the new people move in it always looks way better than it did before. You forget all the culture, all the history that was there . . .”
  • Cheyenne Sookoo,2015, I chose to capture the changing face of my neighborhood in Crown Heights. I wanted to tell the story of the residents and allow them to express their point of view on gentrification and urbanization.
  • “Neighborhoods are always in flux. And even though I may look like a gentrifier, I actually am not because my father grew up on Union street between Kingston and Brooklyn and I live in the other side of the neighborhood in what was a warehouse so I'm not living in a place that was somebody's home. Crown Heights have always been ethnically and racially diverse and that's what's beautiful about it. . . there's still gun shots at five o'clock in the afternoon on franklin avenue it's never going to be fully gentrified and I think that's a good thing. Change has its good points and its bad points . . . The kind of rich white people that you see moving to Bedstuy because the townhouses are a little cheaper than in the city, they have no interest In being part of the community. They have no interest in learning about the history of the neighborhood.”
  • “Initially I wasn't in favor of gentrification because I felt that the familiar faces in one's own community and the cultural mom and pop shops are now disappearing, but then this whole country is based on being accepted, so it's actually a step in the right direction, you would hope to get tolerance and respect for cultural differences. If that can happen then gentrification is a success. . .”
  • “It change so much. But if it make us a little safer I just want to get an even share, and they shouldn't push out people. Because I for instance know a friend now she own a store. She paying $1600, but when her rent finish it's gonna go up like double or more and that's bad . . . But they doing it and getting away with it. But what can you do?. . . ”
  • “I think it's good because they have more police protection, we have safer streets, and the drug dealers . . . is no longer here. And that happened because the white people moved in. But now here's my negative . . . the rent went sky high. And now the people that were here for a long time, they’re pushing them out. But to me you can't have everything good. With the good comes sacrifice. So they sacrificing the poor and bringing the rich one in. They can afford the $2,200 for a one bedroom rent. We can't.”
  • “I think it's sad, like they are really kicking us out. Where are we supposed to go? The culture Brooklyn used to have is slowly fading away and turning into coffee shops. Its sad man.”
  • “It is negative because, I used to live in this neighborhood years back, on Park Place and Franklin. And I was about 13 they started buying up the buildings . . . and you know most people of my race could not afford those apartments. So I knew then that they was moving us out. Now if you look at it, the same neighborhood, it looks like little Manhattan. . . But I’ve seen that happening from then, I'm going on 64, so it's to tell you how long it's been going on.”
  • “I feel like gentrification is shitty. It took a bunch of late 20 - early 30 year olds from out of town with lots of money to make Brooklyn want to change up neighborhoods. The buildings that they are building share nothing with the communities they are placed in. They're kicking out hard working people. It's basically colonization with a prettier name and the same faces.”

Brooklyn was known for its distinct culture, independent art scene and unique architectures. Now it has quaint cafes on every corner and $4,000 rent.

The African-American and West Indians who have made Crown Heights their home are scattering because of surging rent and landlords who harass tenants to make room for higher income renters. It has affected young and old, and I believe that their voice should be heard.

I love being able to tell stories with my photography. I chose to capture the changing face of my neighborhood in Crown Heights. I wanted to tell the story of the residents and allow them to express their point of view on gentrification and urbanization. Is this change beneficial to our community? Does it have a positive impact or is it negative? They are a living reminder of the challenges facing a city struggling to make room for all its current residents, the people of an older Crown Heights, and all the new ones to come.

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