Underground activism: Subway-station posters shed light on boro poverty

Brooklyn Paper
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Talk about platforms for change.

Straphangers across the borough are being targeted by the creators of a new poverty-awareness campaign who plastered posters in dozens of subway stations that shed light on the fragile financial states of hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites. The placards, which feature notable locals including artists, chefs, and designers, educate residents on the plights of their neighbors who struggle to get by, many of whom are black, in an attempt to promote unity, according to the woman who spearheaded the initiative.

“As black people in Brooklyn we understand that many residents struggle in our community to make ends meet,” said Sonya Shields of Brooklyn Community Services, which advocates for the borough’s less fortunate. “This campaign is to bring our entire community together across socioeconomic status.”

The posters for the “Many Voices, Many Stories” campaign note that 23 percent of Kings Countians live in poverty, and feature photos of influential residents — including the co-host of foodie talk-show “The Chew,” Carla Hall, and local music-maker, DJ Spinna — above quotes from each that address the issue.

And one Caribbean-American interior designer who participated said it was an honor to personally advocate for the less fortunate members of her community.

“I’m really happy I was selected to be a part of this and to use my influence in Brooklyn,” said Malene Barnett, the owner of Malene B design studio who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “There are things that need to be addressed and I want to bring awareness, especially in my community, because it’s going to benefit more than just myself — the goal is to inspire others to take action.”

Barnett, who urges “Don’t allow anyone to define you by your living situation … dream big and remember you have purpose” in her poster, said she hopes the information the placards present spurs witnesses to help their fellow neighbors.

“I want you to be in shock, because when you hear the percentage, it’s not something you would think,” she said. “But once you know, you can take action and find ways you can support people living in these situations.”

See the posters yourself at stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Clinton Hill, Dumbo, Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Fort Greene, Gowanus, Greenpoint, West Midwood, and Williamsburg.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Updated 5:53 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bed-Stuy says:
If only there are more educational advertisements about the depressing issues towards everyday New Yorkers such as income inequality, and the subway system is a good place to start.
Oct. 18, 2017, 7:09 am
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
Who does this trust fund hipster think she is? She knows nothing about poverty. She could focus on her expertise - avocado toast, brunch, denying her PRIVILLEGE!
Oct. 18, 2017, 7:29 am
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
I'm so poor in my interior design studio! Boo-hoo-hoo!
Oct. 18, 2017, 7:30 am
SCR from Realityville says:
Kid yourselves NOT,not a G/D Damn thing could be done to ameliorate the situations of NEW Brooklyn,NY's poor,when any property under $1-million;is considered reasonable,or three or four twenty-something"snowflakes"are only paying about $750.00,for a bed-space or even just couch-space-in a small two-bedroom apartment. And property-values,continually soar,at double-digits. Forget about it!! The poor and ever more, the middle-classes,and even the upper middle-classes;will just have to MOVE to cheaper places. They will continually be"FLIPPED OUT"by the real-estate interests. Will this anti-poverty campaign,still be putting up posters,when local properties,reach $2-million? Stay tune.
Oct. 18, 2017, 8:35 am
The Band Leader from Sunset Park says:
Poor people in Brooklyn !!!

Now thats news.
Oct. 18, 2017, 8:39 pm
stan chaz from Greenpoint says:
Awareness must come before analysis and productive action - whatever the source of the initial ideas, words, or images.
We shall all live together in union or eventually destroy each other.
If we have faith in man, then not to attempt change, not to try, to simply give up, is the worst sin of all, an affront agains our heritage, our humanity and our future.
Battering your head against the wall seems like a fruitless and foolish endeavor.
But a million battering heads are an irresistible force for change, one that will bring down any wall.
The poor will always be with us - until they become truly aware of their power.
Oct. 18, 2017, 11:32 pm
Val from Huntington Beach says:
Everyone can that this is pornstar Black Chocolate, from the back door uggos collection! Same birthmark and everything! She's humping the poor now? How delightful!
Oct. 19, 2017, 5:28 am
Val from Huntington Beach says:
Oct. 19, 2017, 5:29 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bed-Stuy says:
I'm not surprised that impersonating troll is from that same person who is cyberbullying me recently, even though I type in the comments that are relevant to this article. These tactics are boring real fast.
Oct. 19, 2017, 10:42 am
Francesca from Cobble Hill says:
So long as there is money, there too will be poor people.
Oct. 19, 2017, 10:49 am
Babs from Brooklyn says:
From the history books in 100 years:
She bravely made a poster with her own picture on it, thereby ending poverty! No one believed it, but it didn't require giving money or really anything directly to the poor. What was really needed was a poster on the subway. Until this point, most subway riders didn't even realize that poverty existed. Seeing an interior designer, who isn't poor herself, make a selfie poster, changed everything! The poor came out en masse. They said - this is what we needed all along! More subway posters, and then we will not be poor! Please make more sweeping statements with vaugue racist undertones about how all black people understand poverty! Because the only poor people are black, and no black person could be middle class or wealthy and maybe not understand poverty like people of other races! You are a hero!
Oct. 20, 2017, 3:28 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Bed-Stuy says:
Impersonations while trolling me and other fellow commentators are getting old real fast. Focus on new material by cowardly show your true colors and take it to the Brooklyn Paper.
Oct. 21, 2017, 8:24 am
True Colors says:
Pedro is a troll, a buly, and an idiot.
Oct. 21, 2017, 9:31 am
George from Brooklyn says:
I'm still puzzled as to how skin pigmentation can be community.
Oct. 21, 2017, 1:49 pm

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