Watch ‘Bushbaby’, an intriguing short film about BedStuy gentrification apprised by native Black journalist

Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram

The hood has a voice! That voice is heard loud and clear in the film ‘Bushbaby’.

The documentary features a young Black journalist named Simba, played by Tarik Jackson, who gets an opportunity to show the world what gentrification is doing to the natives of the Bedford Stuyvesant area (affectionately called ‘BedStuy’ or ‘The Stuy’). While working in his uncle’s bar and grill, Bushbaby, Simba speaks to both Caucasian and native members of the community to get their take on the matter. He heard from some gentrifiers who have moved in to get a front-row seat to the hardships of our daily life; or ‘culture’, as they would call it. He heard from others who felt that the plight of BedStuy’s natives is derived from poor work ethic.

During the film, he meets his girlfriend River; played by Kallee Brookes. This woman once aspired to be the first ballerina of colour but, much to Simba’s surprise, turned out to be a pole dancer just to make ends meet. It was in that defining moment Simba saw the disparity of things.

The gentrification process is no stranger to yours truly. It has been ten years since my family and I were pushed out of the Bushwick (now called ‘Stuyschwick’;) area by rising rent prices. Returning to my old block was heartbreaking; the streets were unrecognizable. There are now noise curfews and Benjamin Moore’s replace our corner stores. The voices of the hood have been stifled out. And so, I for one, am grateful for films like ‘Bushbaby’ that bring the microphone to the hood, so that the underserved no longer suffer silently.


Written by Manny King John

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