Where Are They Now: From Bed-Stuy to Amsterdam

Brooklyn Deep: Who is a part of your household?

Marly Pierre-Louis: I live with my husband, Qa’id, who works full time. And we have a 3-year-old son, Sekani, who is in daycare full time.

BKD: Where did you live in Central Brooklyn?

Marly: The last place we lived was on Madison Street between Stuyvesant Ave and Malcolm X Blvd. Prior to that we were on MacDonough Street between Lewis Ave and Stuyvesant Ave.

BKD: Where do you live now?

Marly: Amsterdam, Netherlands

BKD: When did you leave Bed-Stuy?

Marly: May 2013

BKD: How long did you live in your last place in Bed-Stuy?

Marly: 1.5 yrs

BKD: Were you an owner or renter in Central Brooklyn?

Marly: We were renting in Brooklyn and we are renting here in Amsterdam.

BKD: What was your rent at your last place in Bed-Stuy and how much is your rent now?

Marly: In Bed-Stuy we paid $1,475 a month in a rent stabilized building. And now our rent is 1,400 euros, which is about $1,615. It’s more, but where I live now is literally waterfront property, and I’m surrounded by high performing schools, organic markets and lots of other amenities. Its basically like living in Fort Greene (if Fort Greene was waterfront), but I’m paying (new, not old) Bed-Stuy rent.

What kind of propelled us out was… [the] alarming feeling that Brooklyn just wasn’t ours anymore.

BKD: Why did you leave Bed-Stuy?

Marly: The impetus behind us leaving was an exciting job opportunity abroad. But what kind of propelled us out was: 1) Rent too damn high! Also, the general cost of living in NYC was increasing, without the quality of life increasing to match it. 2) The growing and alarming feeling that Brooklyn just wasn’t ours anymore.

BKD: Have you been back? What has changed, if anything?

Marly:  It’s crazy because, even though I’ve only been gone for a year and a half, every time I go back, Brooklyn feels like a new place! I’ve been back four times so far and each time, I notice new shops and restaurants that have sprung up since my last visit. I’ve already seen some of my favorite spots like Sister’s Community Hardware Store and Kaz An Nou disappear and I’m constantly hearing through the grapevine that other spots I once knew and loved are no longer around.

BKD: What do you miss the most about your Central Brooklyn neighborhood?

Marly:  Black people! I miss the feeling of community and the general Black + flyness of Brooklyn. I’ve lived in several apartments in Brooklyn so have never felt an attachment to any of them, but Brooklyn in general and Bed-Stuy in particular has this powerfully vibrant and loving energy that is incomparable. I loved Madison Street because it was close to BMC, the neighbors were always on the stoop, and one of my homegirls lived down the street. You just can’t find that sense of family and community everywhere.

BKD: What do you like the most about where you live now?

Marly: Life is just easier here. I ride my bike everywhere, the city is small and accessible. I think the most important aspect to me right now, in light of the fact that it’s open season on Black folk in the U.S., is that I don’t have to be afraid that someone’s fear of Blackness + disregard for our humanity + access to guns can equal the end of my life or the life of a loved one. I have a 3-year-old son. Here he’s safe. Here he’s a human. And that gives me peace of mind. I also don’t deal with street harassment here, which is a major part of being a woman living in NYC.  So I guess in general, what I like here the most is that I can be at peace. The constant threat of violence is just not a thing.

BKD: What you’re shout out to your old neighborhood?

Marly: Stay Black & Live!

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