Trending: Black Medical Students | Segment Aired on CUNYTV, 219 West

219 West Segment
Episode aired on television – 5/28/2019
On CUNY TV (Channel 25.3, 70, 75)(cable and air)

Producer: Carolyn Adams
Editor: Carolyn Adams
Show Producer: Emma Davis
Show Editor: Kourtney Webb
Camera Operators: Carolyn Adams and Sean Sanders-Mills
Anchors: Mankaprr Conteh and Stephanie Chukwuma

Featured Image by Osose Oboh (

Equal Rights Amendment Is Back | Segment Aired on CUNYTV, 219 West

219 West Segment
Episode aired on television – 3/27/2019
On CUNY TV (Channel 25.3, 70, 75)(cable and air)

Producer: Carolyn Adams
Editor: Carolyn Adams
On-Air Host: Carolyn Adams
Show Producer: Daniel Whateley
Show Editor: Bianca Rosembert
Camera Operators: Daniel Whateley, Shahar Golan, and Evelina Nedlund
Anchors: Cole Zerboni and Alexis Reese

Audio | Jacob Tschetter

Jacob Tschetter is the kind of guy that draws you in with his warmth and authenticity from day one. So much so that I vividly recalled our conversation as he served drinks in the lobby of The Benjamin Hotel in Manhattan… two summers ago!

We met up on a quiet Saturday morning in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, before the brunch crowd awoke, and made our way to the sultry European-inspired cocktail bar Barely Disfigured (

He talks about his ‘former life’ working in social services, the importance of creativity, and how the bar opened up a new world for him.

Jacob Tschetter at the cocktail bar Barely Disfigured in Brooklyn| Carolyn Adams

Short Film Selected for CUNY Film Festival 2019

My short film “Black & Queer in Music: A Profile” was screened at the annual CUNY Film Festival on Friday, April 12th 5:40pm at the Macaulay Honors College in Manhattan. I was also a contender for the first LGBTQ Image Award, which honors a film that “creates a strong positive image for the LGBTQ community.”

Flatbush Fights Against Gentrification and Hate amidst BK’s Lowest Crime Rates Ever

Sahara Deli Market in Flatbush | Carolyn Adams

Violent crime is at an all-time low in once-notoriously gritty Brooklyn, but the number of hate crimes has continued to rise, according to data from the New York Police Department (NYPD).

A series of high-profile bias incidents in Flatbush over the last few months have pushed local government and community members to action in order to reverse the trend. More than two-thirds of the hate crimes in Brooklyn have been anti-Semitic or homophobic in nature, but incidents targeting black people have increased over the last year and account for 14 percent of those reported in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez formed a designated Hate Crime Bureau last month, in order to better handle cases and work with communities to prevent them. In a statement, he said, “Protecting everyone in Brooklyn is my highest priority and it is simply unacceptable that members of certain protected groups are fearful to walk the streets of our borough.”

Equality For Flatbush founder Imani Henry expressed skepticism about hate crime legislation, pointing to the treatment of Ann Marie Washington after she was assaulted and stabbed by a white man at the Church Avenue train station in November. “The NYPD wanted to put that out as a robbery and the community fought back instantly. Black women, in particular, have been at the forefront of the struggle and made it abundantly clear that this was not a robbery. It was a misogynistic, racist attack.”

Flatbush is one of the most ethnically-diverse neighborhoods in the city, but Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams organized “a community conversation on diversity and respect” in October, days after the ‘#CornerstoreCaroline’ incident went viral.

Filmed by a bystander, the video showed 53-year-old Teresa Sue Klein making a scene after accusing a 9-year-old black boy of sexually assaulting her at Sahara Deli and escalating it by calling 911, a decision that can have deadly consequences for black people.

The number of quality-of-life complaints to 311 has almost tripled in Flatbush since 2010, which correlates with neighborhood rent increases of more than 37 percent, but many new residents have made non-emergency calls to 911 instead.

According to Senator Kevin S. Parker’s office, there has been a marked increase in the number of such calls, with more than 10,000 citywide in the last year. “We should be making disincentives in our state law for people who want to abuse and weaponize the 911 system.” His proposed legislation, senate bill S9150, would designate non-emergency calls to 911 as misdemeanors and result in a $900 fine or 3 months in prison if violated.

Some community members pointed to gentrification directly as an aggravator of tensions in rapidly-changing neighborhoods like Flatbush. “When we put a bunch of people in a melting pot without a proper understanding or ways to relate to each another, we get anti-black rhetoric and behavior projected onto us and our children,” said Jade Arrindell, a Brooklyn-based educator and community advocate.

Imani Henry said that some of the division has been provoked by landlords who have pitted black, Jewish, and other residents against each other, in order to push tenants out. While black and brown communities are disproportionately affected by gentrification, “it is also impacting Jewish people as well. I think it’s important to talk about the ways that people are being pitted against each other and the ways that it hurts all of us differently.”

‘Take It Back Before It’s Gone’ t-shirt of a protester at the Brooklyn March Against Gentrification, Racism, and Police Violence | Carolyn Adams

Housing crime has also increased by 18 percent over the last year. Lifelong Flatbush resident Anthony Beckford described Flatbush as “the last stronghold” as residents in other Brooklyn neighborhoods have been pushed out completely. He said that legislation can help to reduce bias incidents, but that well-meaning white newcomers must do their part.

He suggested that they take a stand by refusing to pay inflated rent costs when natives in the same building pay far less. “Just because you can afford more than other families doesn’t mean that you’re better than us. It just means that you have a privilege that we don’t have. You’re being used as a tool in this war against the black and brown people.”

Imani Henry said that despite tensions, there is solidarity between people of all backgrounds and other boroughs that goes unnoticed. “Bedbugs, the lack of extermination, the elevator being out brings tenants together.”

Rallying signage at the Brooklyn March Against Gentrification, Racism, and Police Violence | Carolyn Adams

Alexis Blecher, a Flatbush newcomer, attended the Brooklyn March Against Gentrification, Racism, and Police Violence in October and lamenting her role in the gentrification of the neighborhood. She said that it was important that other new residents listen to and support longtime residents. “This is their home. It’s not mine.”

As one of the organizers for the march, Henry repeated that people from all walks need to stand together to combat hate and displacement in Brooklyn. “The diversity that is in our neighborhoods will not survive because gentrification will come for all of us.”

Two Years Later, City’s Students Soaring and Saving Money with CUNY

The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers, founded in 2008 on the Upper West Side, covered CUNY application fees for their students in advance of the Department of Education’s Fee Waiver program for low-income students, which was launched in 2016 | Carolyn Adams

Students at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers are hard at work and eager to talk about their college plans on the half of the classroom that they fill. The other of the room is occupied by a full-scale sustainable house that they constructed over the last two years as part of the school’s Building Sciences program.

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) school in Manhattan is one of many that have undeniably benefitted from the Department of Education’s two-year-long partnership with CUNY, which waived application fees for low-income students.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Dr. Linda Chen, the Chief Academic Officer of the Department of Education, shared how the waivers have driven record increases in college enrollment citywide, but data from Green Careers shows an undeniable impact.

(l to r) Department of Education’s Dr. Linda Chen, Urban Assembly Principal Madeleine Ciliotta-Young, and Urban Assembly Superintendent Fred Walsh | Carolyn Adams

Last year, just seven students used the fee waivers and 42 percent of students went on to enroll in college. Within a year, the number of students who applied to CUNY for free increased 900 percent and college enrollment rose to 70 percent among graduates.

Principal Madeleine Ciliotta-Young, a CUNY graduate herself, said that the numbers reflect the priorities of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza’s administrations. “College applications can be yet another barrier to student success. If we truly believe in equity, access, and opportunities for all of our children, we will nurture programs like the CUNY fee waivers.”

More than 41,000 students across the city saved $65 as a result of the waivers, which can make a difference for students from families whose household incomes are less than $46,435 or for those who are undocumented.

Teacher Christopher Sedita discusses water tanks with students at the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers on the Upper West Side, where he founded the Building Sciences program | Carolyn Adams

Students who have chosen to apply to multiple CUNY schools saved significantly by having fees waived. In 2016, Green Careers alum Jefferson Ortega applied to more than six CUNY programs, which could have cost him more then $400 in application costs. “If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do that. It opened up opportunities for the future.” Ultimately, he chose to attend City College in Harlem, where he studies psychology.

All of the students that were approached had aspirations to build careers that would “make a difference in this world and change the lives of many in the future,” as Green Careers senior Sharon Lopez said. All of the seniors applied to CUNY schools last year and almost half enrolled in a CUNY program, but many also applied to SUNY schools like the University at Buffalo.

Finding success with the CUNY partnership, Dr. Chen suggested that even more doors may be opened for the city’s 1.1 million students by waiving application fees for eligible students. “It’d be interesting to expand and see if SUNY or others are interested in doing that as well because we believe our young people are ready for college or career.”

Mariama Barry, a senior at Lehman College in the Bronx, graduated from the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers in 2015 and credits college counselor Mike Campanelli and the school’s CUNY application fee waiver as helping to make college accessible to her and her peers | Carolyn Adams

Until then, the Office of Postsecondary Readiness, which Dr. Chen oversees, will continue to expand the College Access for All initiative. She said that it has been successful largely because of college counselors like Green Career’s Mike Campanelli, who alum Mariama Barry said has inspired her to pursue college counseling. “It really is critical: the one-to-one student connection.”

Back in the classroom, Christopher Sedita, the founder of the Buildings Science program, raises a tape measure to the siding of the wood-facing house with a group of students looking on. Despite the fact that it will be deconstructed in a matter of months, another group discusses plans to install plumbing fixtures in their house – just a few feet away.

Specialty Flatbush-Junction Businesses Thrive Despite Gentrification

Bulletproof Comics Storefront in Flatbush, Brooklyn | Carolyn Adams

The bell perched above the door at Bulletproof Comics and Games rang continuously on a recent Saturday, as patrons rolled in to compete in the weekly gaming tournament held in the store. As the buzz amplified, they unpacked their card decks, laying them out onto a long table in a room adorned with comic book posters and skateboards.

Bulletproof Comics is a centrally-located hobby shop has been a mainstay on Nostrand Avenue for the past 26 years, serving generations of comic and gaming enthusiasts from the surrounding area and beyond. Many of the shops that existed when owner Hank Kwon started the business have since closed, but Bulletproof and a number of other specialty businesses have managed to stay afloat.

Hank Kwon opened Bulletproof Comics 25 years ago and remains a staple in the Flatbush-Junction area | Carolyn Adams

Over the last decade, many local businesses in Flatbush were shuttered as a result of rising costs associated with gentrification. With the City Council abuzz over the proposed Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would offer long-term lease protections to businesses of all sizes, attention has turned towards mom-and-pop shops across the city who have managed to persist despite rising costs. Nearly three-quarters of Brooklyn businesses are made up of fewer than five employees, according to the NYS Comptroller’s office, and small and medium-sized businesses dominate in Flatbush.

On the corner of Nostrand Avenue and Avenue H sits Brooklyn’s Best Locksmith and Hardware, a 25-year-old branch of a business started by Alan Butrico in 1975. Having grown into a multi-location business, locksmith Les Olivero recalled how a 1999 incident in which Butrico helped to rescue a local child from a safe launched his business. “Next thing you know, you’ve got 5 stores!”

Wall of keys at Brooklyn’s Best Locksmith and Hardware | Carolyn Adams

But Brooklyn’s Best has not been exempted from rent increases. Olivero said that they have had a friendly partnership with their landlord and the $3,000 monthly rent has risen less dramatically then other local businesses, some of which he says pay more than $5,000 a month.

Across the street is Bulletproof Comics and Games where owner Hank Kwon recently secured the floor above the current shop. Like Olivero, Kwon pointed to the rising cost of doing business in the area. “Personally, my rent doubled and then I have a second floor now, so it’s even higher.” Increases gradually occurred over several years – by 25 to 35 percent each year.

Kwon also pointed to gentrification as a driver of new business since the area has gotten busier. According to the Flatbush-Nostrand Junction Business Improvement District (BID), more than 26,800 vehicles and 21,900 riders passing through Nostrand Avenue each day, with tens of thousands more commuting through the surrounding Flatbush area.

One of many Brooklyn College entrances | Carolyn Adams

Bulletproof’s regulars are current and former Brooklyn College students, as well as area residents, but Kwon said that local BIDs have helped the shop to keep with the times. “About 15 years ago, they helped us remodel the store and they foot half the bill. That was very helpful.” He said that they have also provided marketing and store design help in the last few months when they lacked the budget to assist.

Though long-standing tenants like Brooklyn’s Best have partnered with local hospitals to provide and service their locks, Olivero said that they must continue to differentiate themselves from competitors like Ace Hardware a few blocks away. “Everyone around here is making keys now, but their keys are like aluminum and they break off. We’re 25% higher, but we get metal keys not aluminum.”

Similarly, Kwon said that Bulletproof’s expansion of the skateboard and longboard offerings has led them to become a premier shop in Brooklyn. Despite paying more for the second floor, he plans to utilize the new space to feature the work of local and black comic book artists, which reflects the shop’s attentiveness to Flatbush’s 58 percent Black population and an inclusivity that some patrons like Morgen B. from Brooklyn celebrated in their Yelp reviews. “When I walked in, there was a Magic [game] tournament happening and it was mostly people of color. I’m so tired of the stereotypical white guy comic book environments where I’m looked at as an anomaly. This might be one of my favorite comic book stores in all of NYC.”

Audio | Thrive NYC Lends an Ear to Southeast Queens

September 22, 2018 (Duration 1:00)
Host: Mankaprr Conteh

[Host] First Lady of New York City Chirlaine McCray and her Thrive NYC staff, are keeping their ears to the ground. The signature mental health program, launched their “I Hear You Brother & Sister” listening tour, in Jamaica, Queens, on Thursday night. Carolyn Adams of the NYC News Service reports.

[Body] According to Northwell Health, the highest rates of mental illness in Queens have been found in its Southeastern neighborhoods. Thrive NYC hosted more than 150 residents and community leaders to discuss what needs to be done.

The group was divided by gender, but attendees wanted similar things: more providers of color, support for new mothers, and creative solutions to engage hard-working parents in local PTAs.

One representative from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, seemed hopeful, stating that communities are capable of change, when everyone is equipped with the same language around mental health. Thrive NYC is committed to doing just that.

I’m Carolyn Adams, with the NYC News Service.

Audio | Saving Doctor’s Lives

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A hidden epidemic within the medical industry has led many to the edge.
Can we rescue the rescuers?

A procession of doctors, nurses, and medical professionals walk through Hell’s Kitchen hand-in-hand in honor of their lost colleagues | Carolyn Adams

Trigger Warning: Suicide

On Thursday afternoon in Hell’s Kitchen, heads were turned as dozens of medical professionals, dressed in white coats and scrubs, walked arm-in-arm in memory of their friends and colleagues lost to suicide each year.

Dr. Pamela Wible, a physician with a private practice in Eugene, Oregon, has found her passion – in taking on, what she describes as “assembly-line medicine”. She has catalogued thousands of physician deaths, exposed hospital cover-ups, and runs a suicide hotline for doctors in crisis. Having struggled with suicidal thoughts during her own residency, she has identified troubling similarities.

“I know from the outside the hospital looks like it could be a safe place, but people working in there? They’re having [the] physiologic breakdown that human beings have when they’re mistreated. They don’t have anywhere to go with this tremendous amount of pressure.”

Dr. Pamela Wible (left) led a memorial service in honor of Dr. Deelshad Joomun, a Mt. Sinai resident lost to suicide in January 2018, and invited parents and friends of the lost to speak | Carolyn Adams

According to a study in 2014, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of resident death among women and 1st among men, but many more have thought about it and attempted. Two Mount Sinai West physicians leapt to their deaths from the nearby residents’ housing in the last two years. One third year resident admitted before the crowd that she had a close call just two months ago.

“I was sitting in the bathtub with a razor blade and instead I called a friend. I had this pull that said, ‘I need some kind of human kindness before I can deal with this afternoon of patients.”

Doctors, medical professionals, family and friends laid down photos of those lost to suicide during a memorial at the site where Dr. Deelshad Joomun died | Carolyn Adams

Determined to push the industry to action, Dr. Wible and Emmy-winning director Robyn Symon joined together to produce ‘Do No Harm,’ a documentary currently on an international screening tour. The film reveals the silent epidemic and advances the institutional work being done to save both doctors’ and patients’ lives.

“When I linked the causes of why doctors would jump to the quality of patient care, then to me, it became a story that impacted everyone. We can’t wait for regulators to make changes. We’ve waited for decades,” said Symon.

Close-up of photos and signs during memorial | Carolyn Adams

Some physicians have made the choice to step away and potentially save their lives. Dr. Zinaria Williams, an opthamologist in New York, left the hospital circuit 10 years ago and now writes about how the system turned patients into the enemy who robbed doctors of sleep and family time. But she wants students to know that there are alternatives.

“You can feel fulfilled… endure and make it in a way that you want…this job is not worth dying for.”