Diversity in the City: Qa’id Jacobs

As a Black, Master of Urban Planning student at Hunter College, I am interested in the specific ways that people of color experience cities and how planning intersects with race and gender. I’m also interested in exploring ways that vulnerable populations can be actors in creating more sustainable communities rather than being objects of sustainability research and planning.

This series of interviews with New Yorkers of color seeks to both explore these issues and to capture personal narratives of individual experiences related to community equity and sustainability.

Name: Qa’id Jacobs

Neighborhood: Bedford Stuyvesant

Occupation: Visual Communications Specialist


My Hood

Why do you live there? My initial decision to live in Bedstuy was based on a combination of economics and demographics: it was an inexpensive neighborhood populated with black people of all strata. This is the environment where I am most comfortable.

What makes your hood dope?

  • The access to African-based culture of the semi- affluent.
  • Food and products made by and directed towards West Indian black people.
  • Access to parks.
  • Activities in the summer time.
  • Local and small businesses owned by residents of the area.

What makes it wack?

  • The increase in white and non-black residents who don’t make overt gestures of recognition of the power and history of black culture in the area.
  • The increasing costs of living in the neighborhood.
  • The aggressive and racist police activity.
  • The poor amount of car parking.
  • The clearly defined lines of division between the “good” and “bad” parts/streets of the neighborhood.

My Food

Does your neighborhood have a supermarket in walking distance? Yes; there is a small and limited supermarket within easy walking distance, and a much better one that is right on the edge of being too far away to walk to.

If so, does it have fresh produce? Yes, they both have fresh produce.

If not, how do you get fresh produce? Since the produce can often be overpriced or in bad shape, I sometimes patronize the “green grocer” or Asian-owned veg/fruit stores.

How many bodegas are in walking distance from where you live?

  • In terms of the walking distance to the small supermarket, there are between 6 and 8.
  • In terms of the walking distance to the large, better supermarket, there are between 15 and 20.

How many fast food restaurants are in walking distance from where you live? More than there are supermarkets, less than there are bodegas.

How many liquor stores are in walking distance from where you live?
Two that I know of. There may be more, but I don’t visit them.

My Community
Do you consider your community gentrified? Yes, because the population is shifting towards more non-black residents and the prices for everything are getting higher.

If so, Who are the gentrifiers? All non-black people, and all people of considerable means that can pay inflated prices to things.

What are the signs of gentrification? Stores that cater to the gentrifiers; more non-blacks seen walking in the streets and playing in the parks; bike lanes.

Does gentrification matter to you? It does because I’ve always like to consider my neighborhood a sanctuary where I don’t have to wrestle with the social challenges that come from living in a racist society that privileges white men above all else. But now that white men and women are occupying my neighborhood, there is no place where I can obtain that refuge. I’ve also seen a tendency for gentrifiers to come into a neighborhood, change it (with their considerable wealth) rapidly and selfishly for their own immediate needs but then to abandon the neighborhood as they move through their social classes (and out into the burbs or whatever), thereby leaving unsupported infrastructure in the neighborhood to blight or waste resources.

My Green

What the heck does sustainability mean? To me sustainability describes an approach to action that takes the finite amount of natural, human, and cultural resources into account. I do care about sustainability because it has immediate and future impacts on our community and world.

Would you consider yourself  ”green”? No, not totally. A lot of my practices are not considerate of resource consumption and I don’t implement many alternative methods that actually have an effect.

Do you recycle? Why or why not? I do recycle when it’s an option for me (at home mostly – and only rarely while out in restaurants or stores, etc.). I think the original reason why I recycle is because we did so in high school and it stuck with me ever since. However, I’m aware of the fact that it doesn’t have a very large impact on use of resources and waste.

Do you compost? Why or why not? No, partly because of the lack of composting facility in-home and partly because of the fear of the work involved with maintaining one.

Come back on April 11  for the next installation!

If you would like to be profiled in “Diversity in the City”, send an email to: mopierre@hunter.cuny.edu.



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