Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Yuppies Are Coming? How To Know When the Bronx Is Being Gentrified

The Yuppies Are Coming? How To Know When the Bronx is Being Gentrified

Mark Naison

During the last month, I have had the opportunity to lead walking tours and bus tours of Bronx neighborhoods for at least 6 different groups. I always enjoy these tours, not only because it gives me the opportunity to play some of my favorite music, eat my favorite foods, and talk about the rich history of the communities were are in, but because there is so much new construction taking place in neighborhoods which were once written off by most of the world.

However, one of the concerns that I have, along with many of the people I have led on these tours, is whether the Bronx neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment are going to remain affordable for their residents. Are neighborhoods, like Morrisania, Hunts Point, Melrose, Mott Haven, Tremont and Morris Heights going to eventually go the way of Harlem, Williamsburgh and the Lower East Side and experience spiraling rents and an influx of wealthy newcomers who will ultimately push out working families and people living on fixed incomes?

While I do not rule out some gentrification occurring in the Lower Concourse area or the neighborhoods adjoining Yankee Stadium, I would say, based on what I observed, that much of the Bronx will remain immigrant and working class for the foreseeable future.

As someone who lives in a neighborhood- Park Slope Brooklyn- which has been dramatically transformed from a multiracial lower middle class community into a wealthy white enclave in the last twenty years, I have learned to identify certain visual markers of gentrification. I am going to share these markers with you and then ask you to make your own judgment of whether Gentrification is transforming the Bronx

1. Yellow cabs. When I moved to Park Slope in 1977, you could see almost no yellow cabs in the neighborhood. Now, thirty years later, they are a regular presence at all hours of the day and night, taking people to and from work, and to and from Manhattan theaters and restaurants. During my six tours of the Bronx, lasting approximately 15 hours and encompassing almost every Bronx neighborhood South of the Cross Bronx Expressway and west of the Bronx Rive, I DID NOT SEE ONE YELLOW CAB!

2. Outdoor cafes. When you go to Park Slope, or for that matter Harlem, Williamsbugh, Fort Greene and the Lower East Side on a summer evening, you will see hundreds of people sitting in outdoor cafes eating dinner or socializing over drinks. These range from small places with three or four tables with larger restaurants with 50 to 100 people sitting outdoors. There may be some outdoor cafes in Mott Haven, but I did not see a single one in Morrisania, Tremont, or Morris Heights.

3. "Designer Dogs." Neighborhoods like Park Slope, or Dumbo, where my daughter lives are filled with obscure and expensive dogs that you once only saw in the Westminster Kennell Club Dog Show- Bichon Frisees, English Bulldogs, Greyhounds, Weimeraners, Portuguese Water Dogs and the like. I have nothing against these dogs personally, but you will never see them in working class communities because they are incredibly expensive and make terrible watchdogs. When you have a critical mass of these dogs, the next step is the creation of dog parks where these dogs can socialize under the doting eyes of their owners. Are there any dog parks in the Bronx? Please tell me because I love to see Bichon Frisees and Chihuahuas play with pit bulls!

4. Sushi Bars" When I moved to Park Slope, the only bars we had were for drinking. Now, there are four sushi bars within ten blocks of my house. My dear friend and colleague Dr Natasha Lightfoot told me that a sushi bar just opened two blocks from her apartment in Harlem. Perhaps that is why she and her husband just bought a co-op in the Yankee Stadium area. Will the sushi will follow her to the Bronx. It hasn't yet!.

5. Health Food Stores and Restaurants. I am all for healthy eating ( though I must say I like BBQ-especially Johnson's BBQ- better than Tofu!), but there is no question that the opening of health food stores and restaurants is one of the markers of gentrification- they are all over Williamsburgh, the Lower East Side and Park Slope. As an intellectual exercise, I asked one of my tour groups to count the number of health food stores and our bus drove on Tremont Avenue from Southern Boulevard to Sedgwick Avenue, a distance of over three miles. The total-ZERO

6. Starbucks: No self respecting up and coming neighborhood is complete without its Starbucks. The coffee bar is a fixture of life for the young professional class, many of whom can't imagine a day without their Latte. Needless to say, I did not see a single Starbucks in any of the Bronx neighborhoods I walked or drove through. Six years ago, Starbucks opened a store on Fordham Road four blocks from Fordham. Within a year, it closed.

Now that I've given you these markers of gentrification ( and perhaps you can give me others) make up your own mind. Is the Bronx gentrifying? Are its longtime residents- and new arrivals- being pushed out?

My own journeys have left me hopeful that our borough, even as it develops will remain a place that welcomes immigrants and striving families priced out of other sections of New York. The Bronx may not have Starbucks and Sushi bars, but it is full of mosques and churches, bodegas and ethnic groceries, hair braiding salons and travel agencies, and restaurants and take out spots where working class people can eat inexpensively. If we protect the borough's supply of affordable housing, it may remain that way for the foreseeable future

. August 3, 2007

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why The Economy Is Going to Get Worse- A Lot Worse-Before It Gets Better

Why The Economy Is Likely to Get Worse- Much Worse- Before It Gets Better

Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

The news that both Bank of America and Citigroup, the two largest US banks, will need another infusion of US bailout money to stay afloat, is a reminder that the economic crisis we are in is likely to get much, much worse before it starts improving

Many financial analysts had hoped that major banks had already written off most of the bad debt that they had accumulated and would be ready to start lending again to business, consumers and prospective homeowners, but that hope was clearly wildly optimistic.

Not only haven't past obligations been written off bank balance sheets, but a whole new wave of bad debt is about to come due from credit cards and commercial real estate which require another round of federal bank rescues and have a profound psychological effect on already traumatized consumers and a destabilizing effect on whole communities.

During the next six months large number of stores and restaurants, small and large, urban, suburban and rural, are going to go bankrupt and close their doors.The economic impact of these closings is going to be enormous. The owners of the commercial buildings and malls in which these stores are located, deprived of rents, are going to find it difficult to repay the bank loans they received to purchase or construct those buildings. The banks who made those loans are going to have to write them off as bad debt, making it difficult, if not impossible, to make additional loans either to businesses or individuals

But the psychological effect will be as important as the economic effect. Nothing is more demoralizing to a community than to see rows of boarded up stores and boarded up buildings. Not only do abandoned properties invite crime and vandalism, they create an atmosphere of panic and despair among people living nearby. Having lived through the consequences of an abandonment cycle in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and having viewed its consequences in cities from Youngstown to Buffalo to Baltimore, I can tell you from experience, that revitalizing communities hit by such a cycle takes years and years unless government intervention is massive and immediate

What we face , in virtually every section of the nation, represents something of a "perfect storm" of negative economic consequences likely to push the nation into double unemployment rates by this time next year and a prolonged period of economic stagnation no matter what the Obama Administration does

1. A continuing freeze on commercial credit as banks face a new wave of defaults from credit cards and commercial real estate

2. Continued layoffs in the private sector, particularly retail sales and manufacturing, as consumer spending continues to dry up

3. An additional wave of layoffs in the public sector as governments are forced to drastically cut their budgets because of declining tax revenues and in non profit organizations as their funding from government, foundations and individual donors shrinks

4. An imposition of higher taxes, tolls and fees by state and city governments desperate to fund their operations even after they have made draconian cuts in their operations In NY, this means higher tolls of bridges, higher subway fares, and higher tuition in the city university

This of what this means from the viewpoint of the average American worker, consumer, or student. Fewer jobs, lower wages, higher taxes, declining home prices, shrinking pensions and new fees on all forms of transportation. At a minimum, this array of economic trends will force people to hunker down and avoid spending money on anything other than necessities. But when you couple this with the specter of abandoned houses, empty storefronts and shopping centers, half completed skeletons of buildings rising Why above city streets, and groups of unemployed people crowding train stations bus terminals and other public places, you will begin to imagine the crippling blow to consumer self-confidence that is about to fall upon an already fearful American public

President Elect Obama certainly has his work cut our for him!

Mark Naison
January 15, 2008

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Protests Against Israeli Policies Are Anti-Semitic-And When They Are Not

When Protests Against Israeli Policies Are Anti-Semitic- And When They Are Not
Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

One of the most difficult tasks for all people concerned with peace and justice in the Middle East is determining when protesters against Israel's policies are anti-Semitic, and when they are not, and taking steps to eliminate anti-Semitism from the movements we are participating in

Though most, but not all protesters, in the United States, have been careful to distinguish passionate criticism of Israel's policies from verbal and physical assaults on Jews, such a distinction has evaporated in some parts of Europe, where synagogues have been firebombed and defaced, and Jews have been threatened and harassed in schools and on public conveyances.

Many of Israel's fiercest enemies in the Middle East, especially Iran, have contributed to this atmosphere by openly promoting Anti-Semitism in its most destructive historic forms, whether by distributing copies of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," by giving a warm welcome to Holocaust Revisionists, including the former Klansman David Duke, or by using sweeping rhetoric about "driving Jews into the sea."

Given this history, and given the incidents that have occurred in recent weeks, it is understandable that many Jews fear that the outrage over Israel's actions in Gaza make Jews around the world feel vulnerable in whatever countries the live in.

However, to equate outrage at the brutal consequences of Israel's assault on Gaza with anti-Semitism, or to see those protesting the invasion as primarily motivated by hostility to Jews, is as wrong as it is unfair.

The images coming out of Gaza, of neighborhoods under siege, of schools and mosques reduced to rubble, of bodies of dead and wounded children in hospital wards and in streets,of communities without food and electricity and water, coupled with the extraordinary disproportion in Israeli and Palestinian casualties,have sparked a cry of conscience among people the world over, including among many progressive Jews.

Rather than being a sign of anti-Semitism, this outpouring of moral identification with the powerless is the one force in the world that can protect Jews, as well as all other vulnerable peoples, against ethnic and religious violence

The argument that Israel, as a state, has a right to respond to rocket attacks from a movement dedicated to its destruction does not mean that any and all responses that Israel makes are morally and politicallyacceptable.

Whenever the armed forces of a state produce large civilian casualties through aerial bombardment and invasion of another nation whether it is the Soviet Union invading Afghanistan, Iraq invading Kuwait, or the United States invading Iraq, it is thoroughly appropriate that people of conscience mobilize in protest This is especially so when there is a vast difference in economic and military power between the nation doing the invading and the nation being invaded

.The fact that in this instance, the invading nation does so in the name of a historically oppressed and persecuted people complicates the moral calculus, but does not ultimately change it

If Israel's response to Hamas rocket attacks is wildly disproportionate to the injury those attacks inflict,and impose enormous suffering on hundreds of thousands of people who bear no responsibility for thoseattacks, then it is thoroughly appropriate that people around the world insist that the invasion end.

If they do so in a way that rigorously avoids anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions, and which welcomes Jews who embrace a common vision of universal justice, their efforts should be applauded,not condemned

Mark Naison
January 14,2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Plea for New Leadership-An Non Violent Solutions- In the Middle East

A Plea for New Leadership- And Non Violent Solutions- In the Middle East

Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

The carnage in Gaza produced by Israeli bombs and mortars, has left many people around the world, including this writer, thoroughly disillusioned with Israel and its leaders. The disproportionate infliction of suffering on the residents of Gaza, relative to the victims of Hamas rocket attacks in Israeli towns and cities, suggests that there are no limits to the violence Israel will use to protect its security interests.

What makes the violence worse is the moral immunity that Israel and its supporters demand that Israel be granted because of the historic suffering of the Jewish people. In a era when genocide and ethnic cleansing have become worldwide issues, affecting people from Southeast Asia to Eastern Europe, to Eastern and Central Africa, Israeli arguments about the unique vulnerability of Jews to persecution and assault lack the credibility they once had in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

To ask that Israel be given carte blanche to ride roughshod over the rights of Palestinians, whether inside Israel or in adjoining states, or inflict limitless damage on Israel's international enemies, because the world owes the Jewish people special consideration for their near extermination at the hands of the Nazis, has started to wear thin even among those who admire some of Israel's accomplishments

The global community of nations cannot long survive if it grants individual states immunity from international law and commonly accepted standards of civilized behavior because of their citizens history of persecution.

That being said, it is hard to find a liberation movement less effective in exposing the moral and ideological weaknesses of its enemies than Hamas.

At a time when the Arab minority within Israel is growing in size, confidence, and visibility, and the problematic features of a Jewish state which gives special legal status to one religious group over all others are becoming more and more striking, Hamas has built a resistance movement based on Islamic principles and Islamic law, and embraced violence as its major tactic for overthrowing the Jewish state.

This puts secular progressives in Israel, and around the world, in something of a quandry. While Hamas tactics assure that the cause of the Palestinian people remains visible to the world and that Israelis pay a price for their persecution of Palestians, it simply proposes replacing one ethnocentric, religious state with another.

This vision of the future has several strikingly negative consequences

First, it unites even the most progressive Jewish citizens of Israel in support of a state they are profoundly critical of because there is no place for them in the society Hamas envisions

Second, it undermines any emerging alliance between Israeli Arabs and progressive Israeli Jews for the transformation of Israel into a secular democratic state where no group has special priviliges

Third, it turns the conflict in the region into a competition between two ethnocentric, theocratic movements each of which rejects the claims of the others, assuring that the outcome of the conflict will be determined by military force, leaving little or no role for the international community other than arming one or the other side

There is no way out of this spiral of violence without embracing an entirely new vision of what the region should look like, and a new array of tactics which can bring that vision to fruition.

The centerpiece of that vision is a secular democratic state, or states, in historic Palestine, in which all citizens, irrespective of their religion have equal rights and equal status, and no religious group has a special status. Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists would all be welcome in such a federation of states. Claims for compensation for land seizures during the creation of Israel or during the construction of Israelia settlements would be settled by international courts. Israel, as currently constituted, would cease to exist, but the nearly six million Jewish residents of region would remain with their rights protected, but their special status no longer defended by a unitary national state

The struggle to create such a state, or federation of states, would be primarily achieved through non violent direct action on the part of both Jews and Arabs who do not want to be ruled by a theocratic state, whether Jewish or Muslim. The model for such a movement would be the Civil Rights struggle in the United States and the struggle to overthrow apartheid in South Africa. Such a movement would expose the moral bankruptcy of both Hamas and the Israeli government, and if it worked, would significantly reduce violence in the region and the threat of global war

And impossible dream? Yes. But think of the alternative. Current politicies, taken to their logical extreme, lead to genocide, ethnic cleansing, and a possible nuclear war involving Israel, Iran and the United States

If the residents of Israel/Palestine don't learn to embrace non violence, they will blow themselves up and take the rest of us with them

Mark Naison
January 11, 2008


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Invololuntary Communalism in the Age of George Bush- How A Sixties Dream Became a Working Class Necessity

Involuntary Communalism in the Age of George Bush- How a Sixties Dream Became a Working ClassNecessity

" It's time we stop children, what's that sound Everybody look what's going round"

During the late 1960's, those song lyrics served as an anthem for a youth based counterculture that emerged out of the civil rights and anti-war movements. Challenging individualism, consumerism and the ideal of the self-contained nuclear family, hundreds of thousands of young people chose to live in communal spaces where people shared housing, food, child care, and household responsibilities. Some of these communal experiments took place in rural areas and sought complete self-sufficiency by growing their own food, but the majority were formed in cities and towns by people who worked in the mainstream economy, but chose to share their incomes, as well as their living space, with like minded people who saw competitive individualism as a destructive force.

Most of these communal experiments gradually disintegrated as the idealism which inspired them diminished, and as the people who launched them, many of whom were college educated, moved into professional occupations.

But though the ideological support for communalism is substantially weaker than it was forty years ago, the number of people living communally is actually far greater! The driving force for this new communalism is almost entirely economic. Because of stagnant wages and rising costs for housing, transportation and health care, large portions of the American working class are no longer able to live in nuclear family units and are sharing living space relatives, friends, and to an increasing degree, with complete strangers.

You can see this not only in the Bronx, where large portions of the population, whether in public housing, privately owned apartment buildings or two and three family houses, are living doubled and tripled up, but in working class suburbs where most people live in detached houses with garages and lawns. In the Springs, a working class neighborhood in East Hampton where I have a vacation house, half of the houses on my block have more than two families living in them. This is not only true of the houses on my street owned by Mexican immigrants, where between two and five families share split level houses originally built for one. but in a number of houses in which white, and mixed race couples, share space.

The days when working class men and women could marry early and to move into their own private home are disappearing fast. The disparity between working class wages and the money needed to purchase and heat a home makes that ideal nearly impossible for a nuclear family without incurring incredible debt For a while, escalating credit card limits and the creation of sub prime mortgages inspired millions of families to take that risk but now those families face interest rates that are in danger of swallowing up their investment and forcing them into foreclosure. When you add to that increasing energy costs, the private home, for most working class people is fast becoming an "endangered species." The only way most working class families will be able to meet their mortgage payments and fuel costs is by sharing those costs with other families, or taking in boarders who pay rent

None of this is going to change any time soon. The days of inexpensive fuel and lavishly available credit are gone, perhaps forever. The entire culture of postwar America, built around the private home and the private automobile, is becoming dysfunctional for large sections of the population. Working class people, and increasingly middle class Americans, will have to share space, and resources and services to have a decent life style. And government needs to adapt to the this through investment in public transportation, high quality affordable health care, and affordable rental housing.

The "ownership society" where the ideal living unit is the private home is no longer compatible with the place of the US in the global economy. Ideals of solidarity and sharing and sacrifice which have long sincegone out of fashion, but which are lived realities for many working class people, have to be restored to a place of honor in the American political and cultural tradition

Individualism and consumerism need to be contested in every sphere of our culture, not just because they are morally questionable, but because they increasingly provide poor guidance for how to live well in the world we not inhabit.

Mark Naison.
July 2008
By Ivan Sanchez and Luis DJDiscowiz Cedeno (Miss Rosen Editions; Powerhouse Books)

Reviewed by Dr Mark Naison, Fordham University

IT’S JUST BEGUN is one of the most powerful memoirs I have read in recent years. Billed as “The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ,” the book presents extraordinarily vivid descriptions of the rise of hip hop in the neighborhood Cedeño grew up in (183rd Street and the Grand Concourse), of Cedeño’s emerging partnership with the brilliant DJ and rapper Curtis Fisher (aka Grandmaster Caz) and of the tensions than ensued when a light skinned Latino began showing mastery in what was widely perceived as a “Black” art form. Drawing upon Cedeño’s narrative skills and the spare, poetic language that Sanchez unveiled in his first book, Next Stop, the book contains memorable portraits of block parties and street jams, of DJ battles in community centers and clubs, of turf wars between DJ’s in different Bronx neighborhoods and of the mass appropriation of electronic equipment that took place during the 1977 Blackout Riots in the Bronx. For students of Bronx hip hop history, It’s Just Begun is a wonderful addition to the two excellent books published this year by Grandmaster Flash and Shelly Shel, both for its description of hip hop’s emergence in the Northwest Bronx- an area not previously viewed as an important hip hop site- and for its honest depiction of Black/ Latino tensions in hip hop’s formative years

But to look at this book as just a hip hop story would be to vastly underestimate its power and significance. Cedeño was sent to prison for attempted murder in 1978, just as his DJ career was taking off, and the vast majority of this book is about his struggles to cope with the violence instilled in him by the brutality of an abusive father, a violence that earned him respect on the streets of the Bronx and in upstate prisons, but left a trail of destruction and shattered dreams that only ended, in his mid- thirties, when he met an extraordinary women who believed in him enough to insist that he conquer his inner demons.

Like "Down These Mean Streets," a book which it resembles in narrative power and frank discussion of Black-Latino tensions , "It’s Just Begun" is a meditation on violence, particularly on how violence in the home breeds violence in the streets. The tone for the entire book is set, early in the first chapter, by a description of the beating Cedeño took from his father when he was only eight years old, an experience which, he says, left him scarred and damaged for life:

“Maybe my father felt if he taught me how to take a beat down from a man, I'd always be able to take whatever these mean streets of the Bronx would throw my way, but this is most likely just wishful thinking on my part. . . .My father didn't teach me how to be a man that day, he didn't teach me how to take a beating, he didn't teach me anything. The only thing my father accomplished that day was teaching me how to hate. The kind of hate that changes your perspective on life until you realize this hatred will cause your own destruction. The kind of hate. . . I would never want to pass along to anyone in this world.”

From this point on, Cedeño’s narrative reveals, the rage inside him was like a bomb ready to go off on the slightest provocation, but he found plenty of outlets for this anger on the streets of the Bronx, where he met other damaged young people ready to inflict their pain collectively, as well as individually, on anyone who crossed their path. There is no romance in Cedeño’s description of the beatings and stabbings he inflicted on his enemies, during his childhood and adolescence. There were many and they are terrifying to read.

But what is also disturbing is that this capacity for violence won Cedeño acceptance and respect among the toughest kids in his neighborhood, and may have even contributed to his ability to establish himself as a Latino battle DJ in a largely Black hip hop culture. Cedeño, who had near professional boxing skills and always carried a gun , was viewed, by his partner Caz and others, as a good person to have around because of his reputation as a street thug as well as for his extraordinary skill on the turntables. At a time when anyone spinning in the park was vulnerable to having their equipment stolen by “stick up kids,” having a member of your crew who was strapped and ready was seen as necessary protection.

But though Cedeño was a respected presence among Hip Hop’s founding DJ’s- he and Caz had epic DJ battles with DJ Kool Herc, and formed a close relationship with Afrika Bambatta- his uncontrollable anger put himself, and everyone around him at risk. After several near brushes with death when he challenged crews outside his neighborhoods, Cedeño finally reached the point of no return when he shot and nearly killed a young man from the Crotona area who was making sexual advances to his girlfriend Jeanette and adding insult to injury by mocking Cedeño in the process. Cedeño’s description of his emotions during the shooting will send chills through anyone who has spent their life trying to control their own rage:

“When I shot him the first time, I felt completely threatened. They were closing in on me and I knew that if I didn't do it they were going to end up snuffing me, taking the gun and using it on me . . . . I shot him the second time because of the anger that overcame me. This stupid motherfucker just made me shoot him! That might sound crazy but Lord knows I didn't want to do it. I had a daughter, I was a DJ, and things were finally looking good for my life. The last thing I wanted to do was throw my entire life away because some fucking asshole couldn't take rejection from my girl. I shot him the third time because I knew he had just cost me my life. . . . After all was said and done, this motherfucker had just denied me all my dreams and for that he deserved to die.”

In all my years of reading urban literature, I have rarely read such an honest, and self critical description of the act of inflicting violence- of the cost on the person inflicting it, as well as the cost to the victim. The rest of the book, which describes accounts Cedeño’s imprisonment, partial rehabilitation, struggles with drug addiction, and eventual redemption, never lets the reader forget the price of the brutality that Cedeño endured as a child. No matter what accomplishments he registered- the reputation he acquired as a pioneering hip hop DJ; the education he achieved in prison, both in the classroom and in political groups; the career he created for himself after his release as a chef at top New York’s private men’s clubs, Cedeño always felt vulnerable to the lure of the streets and became involved in the selling and the using of cocaine even when prosperity in the mainstream economy was securely in his grasp.

It took the love of an extraordinary woman, his wife Lizette, to wean him away from the drugs, the guns, and the rush of illegal activity, and to encourage him to channel his rage into poetry and to the DJ art that had once won him fame. It was through Lizette’s connections in the music industry that Cedeño was reconnected with Grandmaster Caz, DJ Red Alert and other figures from the early days of hip hop who were still keeping that tradition alive by sponsoring “Old School “ Hip Hop concerts and jams. With their encouragement, Cedeño re-emerged in public as “DJ Disco Wiz- Hip Hop’s first Latino DJ” and found a ready audience for his music, and his life lessons, among young, politically conscious hip hop artists eager to distance themselves from the intellectually stale and politically retrograde hip hop that was being commercially marketed by record companies and mainstream radio.

The last portion of the book, about Cedeño’s redemption through love, through poetry, and through music, is both heartwarming and inspiring. Having attended one of Cedeño’s amazing benefits for the homeless at the Bronx Museum of the Arts- “Hip Hop Meets Spoken Wordz”- I can testify that everything that Cedeño says in the book about his inspirational influence on younger artists, and the respect with which he is regarded by other Hip Hop pioneers, is absolutely true.

But though "It’s Just Begun" is an inspiring tale of redemption and self-discovery, I could not help think, as I finished it, about all the other young victims of domestic violence being unleashed on the streets of the Bronx and other cities who might not be as lucky as Luis to find someone to believe in them and to save them.

Anyone reading this brilliant, frightening book will never forget one lesson I learned long ago when working with adolescents— that when young people are involved, violence in the home begets violence in the streets and leaves its victims with burdens they will be struggling with all their lives.

We should all be thankful to Ivan Sanchez and Luis Cedeño for having the courage to tell this story, and the skill to tell it so beautifully

Dr Mark Naison, Fordham University, December 30, 2008

Link to "It's Just Begun" on Powerhouse Books website- foranyone interested in pre-ordering the book as well as signing up for our exclusive events list for the book---