Bichotte Calls For “Little Haiti” Before “Little Caribbean” Designation


Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) alongside the Haitian community yesterday called on the city to slow down designating Flatbush and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens roughly from Empire Boulevard down to the Brooklyn College junction where Nostrand and Flatbush avenues meet as “Little Caribbean” until the area first gets a “Little Haiti” designation.

Bichotte’s designation within a designation plea comes after Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, representing the borough and the city, officially made the designation today at the Nostrand/Flatbush intersection. The local cultural, arts and business oriented nonprofit caribBeing spearheaded the “Little Caribbean” effort with support from both local merchant associations and the city’s tourism group NYC & Company.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte

“The Haitian community supports the designation of both ‘Little Haiti’ and ‘Little Caribbean.’ Mayor de Blasio, more than any other mayor in the history of New York City, has been the most supportive of the Haitian community. His dedication and support for the Caribbean immigrant community as a whole has been unmatched. This is why I know in my heart that, in the spirit of fairness, that he will express his support for the designation of both a “Little Haiti” and a “Little Caribbean,” said Bichotte.

Bichotte is hoping that more open and engaging conversations with local elected officials with strong ties to the Haitian community will open a pathway to a second designation. Other elected officials representing the designated area include Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, State Senator Kevin Parker, Assembly member N. Nick Perry, Assembly member Diana Richardson, City Council member Mathieu Eugene, and District Leaders Josue Pierre, Melba Brown, and Cory Provost.

“Old wounds have been opened as the voices of the community and elected officials have not been engaged throughout the designation process. Although, the journey to unity has come a long way between island politics and differences, having both designations would be ideal to acknowledge the Haitian people’s struggle,” said Bichotte.

According to Bichotte, Haiti has had a very isolated history with the Caribbean. Though a part of the island nation, Haiti has “been historically singled out and excluded from the greater Caribbean community.” Haitians are a French-Creole speaking nation unlike the rest of the islands that are English-speaking. As a result, Haitian immigrants have had “to build separate communities and organizations in order to survive.”

CaribBeing Executive Director Shelley Worrell. Photo by Kolin Mendez.

But CaribBeing Executive Director Shelley Worrell said the idea behind “Little Caribbean” is not so much about singling out one Caribbean country over another, but about unifying all under one umbrella and movement, and celebrating all its languages and nuanced cultures.

“Haiti is part of the Caribbean as are all the islands in the Caribbean Basin including Central America, the Caribbean Coast of Mexico, as well as Venezuela, Colombia, Northeast Brazil and the three Guianas.  We are proud to be an inclusive cultural hub and will continue to do all that we can to include the English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Creole speaking Caribbean in our cultural programming and offerings for many years to come. In fact, our first film festival was dedicated to Haiti,” said Worrell.

City Councilmember Jumaane Williams

City Council member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood), the designating Council member, appeared to side with Bichotte and yesterday decided to withdraw his support in favor of a “more fruitful dialogue.” According to Bichotte, other withdrawals include the honorable Dr. Roy Hastick, who came up with the original idea, the local Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) including the Flatbush and Church Avenue BIDs as well as Crown Heights merchants.

Bichotte recognizes that it is a review by elected officials, BIDS, corporate partners and city agencies in the community that will lead to a more complete designation of the neighborhood and a successful dedicated portion to the Haitian community.

“If all goes well, the designation of “Little Haiti” would be established first in order to be encapsulated within the designated area of the “Little Caribbean,” said Bichotte.