Wednesday, December 19

4WCircle Closing

Laurie Cumbo, MoCADA founder, sent out this email earlier this morning.

Response to the Closing of 4WCircle - A Brooklyn Landmark
As a business owner in the Fort Greene community, I was devastated and heartbroken to learn that after 17 years, 4WCirlce was going to close its doors. I am most concerned that many people will simply look at this as just another business closing. Losing 4W Circle to gentrification warfare is a devastating blow to the community. Selma Jackson, a founding member of 4W Circle has devoted the last 17 years of her life to keeping our community together, fighting for the rights of all business owners, opening the doors of opportunity for others and providing jobs for people in our community. We will never understand the type of sacrifice that Selma Jackson has made on behalf of her people in an attempt to preserve our communities and to open the doors of opportunity for young entrepreneurs.

The closing of 4W circle marks a fatal wound to the community and the cultural diversity that made Fort Greene what it is today. Unless we recognize how important it is to make a conscious decision to support "our" businesses, the domino effect that has been planned for us will progress with rapid fire.

It is so unfortunate that so many people like Selma Jackson, that have devoted their lives to creating community and connections are often the first to be sacrificed for the new comers who have big ideas, lots of money and no historical record of achievement within their "new" community. Before they build their new companies, high rise condominiums and generic franchises, they never take the time to find out about the community or who or what makes the community special. They never ask, "How can we become a part of this community and help make what is already here special"? They never ask, "How can I invest in this community in order to preserve what is already here? Instead in no time at all, brown and black people will be made to feel unwelcome in their own communities that they were born and raised in. The new comers will start off by walking down the streets in our communities looking away from us without a hello, good morning and forget about a how are you doing?
I often wonder what was the process of removal like for the Native Americans that inhabited this beautiful country. Did they try and carry on the regular day to day tasks of life like marriage, raising a family, planning for the future even though they knew their days were numbered. As our businesses continue to close up and down Fulton Street and as less and less of us are coming up out of the train stations in historically Black neighborhoods, I ask where are all of my people going. I didn't here anything about a reservation being created like the government did for the Native Americans so many years ago. It seems that all over the country there is a gentrification war and no one has told me, where are we expected to go?

In closing, I salute Selma Jackson for contributing towards making Fort Greene and Brooklyn what it is today. As all of the international magazines quote Brooklyn as being the "hottest", "trendiest", "coolest", and "hippest" place to be right now, despite the warped speed of gentrification that will displace thousands of Black and Brown people, I pledge to tell the future generations who and what was really the "Heart of Brooklyn". I ask all people, whether you are white, black, yellow or red to support Selma Jackson's 4WCircle enterprise with your heart, soul and wallet until its closing on February 1st and to let her know that you appreciated her commitment to the community. Moreover, I ask that we wake up to the fact that our local businesses are what makes our Borough unique and sets us apart from everywhere else. This must be preserved, which thereby fosters the very definition of community. My best of wishes to Selma Jackson in her new endeavors and to all local businesses owners, I support you in your struggle to fight for our right to have a community.

With warmest regards,
Laurie A. Cumbo

Founder & Executive Director of MoCADA

About 4W Circle of Art & Enterprise

More than a unique boutique-style shopping experience-offering one-of-a-kind Afro-inspired designer fashions, art from around the world, hand-crafted jewelry, greeting cards, wedding accessories, a natural hair salon, a showcase for local artists, community space for programs celebrating African-American culture, and much more, 4W Circle of Art & Enterprise is an incubator of dreams. Open in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn since 1991, 4W Circle is the dream-realized of four African-American women, including it's current owner Selma Jackson, to contribute to the community by providing home-based African-American entrepreneurs, especially women, the opportunity to realize the dream of establishing their own retail stores. Over the past decade, scores of aspiring entrepreneurs have found a home, expertise and a supportive environment under the roof of 4W Circle's cooperative collective. An encouraging number have spread their wings and enriched the neighborhood by establishing
their own business spaces.

4W Circle of Art & Enterprise is located at
704 Fulton Street
Between South Portland and South Oxford
Brooklyn, New York 11217

No comments: