Op-Led: Uptown Love in the Time of Coronavirus – Voting is an act of resistance

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Inwood Hill Park - Dominican & American Flags

(Photo: Briana E. Heard)

This past weekend marked the culmination of something that was set in motion at the very beginning of the rule of Tyrant Trump. My wife, in her infinite wisdom, decided that we needed an escape plan now that a deranged, racist imbecile had become the occupier of the White House. So in early 2017, with a determination that bordered on madness, my wife began the tedious process of obtaining dual citizenship for our family. She hunted down all the necessary documents, made several visits to the Dominican consulate and after almost a year the objective was achieved. My wife and I, as well as our three daughters, were now proud citizens of both the United States and the Dominican Republic.

Fast forward to July 5, 2020. I, with my Dominican cedula (identification card) in hand, headed to P.S. 152 on Nagle Ave to cast a vote in my first Dominican election ever. The various lines and the sheer amount of people there was both inspiring and dispiriting. It was encouraging that so many people showed up to exercise their civic responsibilities on such a scorching hot Sunday, especially after probably not sleeping with the illegal fireworks extravaganza that took place the night before, but I was also afraid that this would be a long and unnecessarily drawn-out ordeal.

I was simply wrong. After speaking to one of the very capable poll workers, I was escorted into the building and placed next in line to vote. The ballot was very colorful with actual pictures of the candidates. It was also super confusing because the different presidential candidates appeared several times on the ballot. Luckily, another one of the adept poll workers took the time to explain it to me.

I left that building walking on air having taken part in the sacred act of voting. I voted for Abinader and the PRM party not because they are perfect, but because it was the vote that had to be cast. The other two options were both from the PLD, which has been the ruling party since 1996 with a brief respite from 2000 to 2004. It was time for a change after almost 2 decades of consecutive PLD rule and the people made that painfully obvious by giving Abinader a landslide victory. Let’s hope that the citizens of this country do the same and give the ruling a party the boot this November. Like we say in the Dominican Republic, e pa’ fuera que van!

Pa’lante, Siempre Pa’lante!

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UC Must-Reads: America’s Enduring Caste System

Isabel Wilkerson is a stone-cold, intellectual powerhouse. Her magnum opus, The Warmth of Other Suns, is a straight up tour de force and one of my favorite books of all time. Our UC Must-Reads for this week is a powerful and exhaustive piece that she penned for the NY Times entitled America’s Enduring Caste System. I do not say this with even a tinge of hyperbole or exaggeration, the searing essay will quite literally blow you away. When I finished reading it, I let out a loud and extended wowwww as I was simply floored and awed by her erudition, eloquence and her mighty pen game. It is a long read but super important so get to it ASAP.

Read more: UC Must-Reads: America’s Enduring Caste System

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#TheGramUptown: Spread Love It’s The Uptown Way


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Go Behind the Scenes of the In the Heights Movie | Town & Country

Being that the In The Heights film has been postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic. Damn you pandemic. What else are you going to take away from us? But I digress. Town & Country Magazine gave us our In The Heights fix by taking us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the much anticipated film.

Check out: Go Behind the Scenes of the In the Heights Movie | Town & Country

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Uptown Video: Uptown’s Forgotten Slave Cemetery

Prior to 1827, the Dyckmans, and other Uptown families, made use of enslaved labor.

Today the Dyckman Farmhouse has been preserved as museum on Broadway and West 204th Street in the Inwood section of northern Manhattan. The cemetery where these Colonial settlers buried their Slaves sits unmarked and forgotten on nearby 10th Avenue.

This short documentary tells the story of Uptown’s forgotten slave cemetery.

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The Uptown Tweet of the Week: #Goyaway

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A “blended” back to school | Bronx Free Press

It’ll be an autumn to remember.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his administration’s plan to reopen public schools in September, which includes a combination of remote and in-person learning and the staggering of schedules to allow for social distancing.

Most students would attend classes in their school building two or three days per week, de Blasio said, with most classrooms containing a maximum of 12 kids at a time. The rest of the week would be used for remote learning.

“Of course, we understand some families will choose remote learning as the only option… and they have every right to do that, and we’ll be ready. But, basically, this blended model, this kind of split-schedule model is what we can do under current conditions,” de Blasio said. “And then, let’s hope and pray science helps us out with a vaccine, with a cure, treatment, the things that will allow us to go farther.”

Read more: A “blended” back to school | Bronx Free Press

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Refashioning summer youth jobs | Manhattan Times

By Gregg McQueen

When the city’s latest budget was approved on July 1, it included $51 million for the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

The funding came as a relief to many after Mayor Bill de Blasio had initially proposed cutting the program entirely to help the city weather a $9 billion deficit brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pared-down initiative, rebranded as SYEP Summer Bridge 2020, will offer 35,000 young people employment in a virtual setting over a five-week period from July 27 and August 28.

While SYEP was partially restored, it is still slated to help less than half of the young people it did the previous year.

“We’re happy we got something, but it’s still not enough,” said Eddie Silverio, Director of Alianza Youth Services for Catholic Charities of New York.

“Last year, the city had over 75,000 slots and more than 135,000 young people applied. That shows you how much it means to people.”

“We get calls every day from families asking what is going on with summer programming,” he said.

The nation’s largest youth employment program, SYEP provides young people ages 14 to 24 with career experience, project-based learning activities and financial literacy. It is aimed at children from low-income families.

“With many participants, the money they earn from SYEP goes to help their families pay bills,” Silverio said. “With so many parents out of work due to the pandemic, those are funds that are very much needed.”

Read more: Refashioning summer youth jobs | Manhattan Times

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Uptown Talk: Inwood Art Works On Air

The good folks at Inwood Art Works have a new podcast entitled Inwood Art Works On Air. The podcast shines a spotlight on the musicians, filmmakers, writers, theater makers, and artists of all stripes that make Uptown their home. The programming consists of two featured segments: Artist Spotlight and Live N’ Local.

In “Artist Spotlight” segments they tell the stories of Inwood artists and creators recorded at beloved local haunts in the community. In “Live N’ Local” segments they interview Inwood musicians and provide an intimate platform to feature a live showcase of their work.

For more info: Uptown Talk: Inwood Art Works On Air

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