As the McCarren Gathering nears one full year of meeting and protesting since the murder of George Floyd, the Freedom Market — an initiative that grew out of these daily gatherings — continues its work to raise awareness of economic injustice within the North Brooklyn community.
Every Friday at 7 P.M. for nearly six months, the Freedom Market has set up shop between the McCarren Park baseball fields to sell products from BIPOC-owned businesses, as well as foster meaningful conversations among neighbors. Products include baked goods, eco-friendly tote bags, and home essentials like toilet paper and detergent. The Freedom Market aims to highlight these offerings as a means of raising awareness of minority-owned products with the goal of wealth redistribution in the community as opposed to supporting corporations.
“Things started to take shape for me in terms of seeing that at the root of all this social injustice is an economic story, an economic story of divide and conquer,” Freedom Market’s founder, Trevor, said. “It started to click: ‘Wow, I’m seeing now that this economic injustice is at the core of everything.’ The kids on the corner who are selling, the cop pulling the driver over, it’s all about protecting property, it’s all about keeping the wealth in the wealth class.”
To achieve this, Trevor places equal importance on fostering dialogue between those attending. The Freedom Market features spirited community discussions, self-defense classes, yoga instruction, and more, as well as occasional special events and pop-ups with North Brooklyn Mutual Aid initiatives.
“Discussions are not always around economics, but what’s important is that voices that aren’t usually heard, like mine, will filter through white allies and reach their neighbors, friends, family, and circles. ‘Oh this is why you shouldn’t buy from Amazon, this is why you want to support Black-owned businesses.’ The funds that you invest in Amazon maintain the injustice. We want neighbors to vote with their dollars,” Trevor explained.
The benefit isn’t only felt financially for minority-owned businesses, but also offers a more environmentally friendly alternative. Household products from EcoDaisy, Alaffia, and Reel all feature sustainable and non-toxic ingredients, and by bundling them for pickup at the park, the impact of not shipping to multiple addresses also reduces their carbon footprint.
While the Freedom Market will remain exclusively in McCarren Park for the summer, the goal is to eventually expand to other areas, using Williamsburg as the model given its stark contrast in upscale gentrification and lower-income communities depending on where you are in the neighborhood.
“The idea is taking it to other neighborhoods where the center is the talks, the discussions, the engagements; having our white allies realize that their presence is important … Having events and artists and dialogue. We don’t want to give the impression that this is about spending — it’s about knowing why this is important,” he emphasized.
And in terms of Trevor’s goal for North Brooklyn, his hope is that the Freedom Market can attract younger participants and work more closely with neighborhood youth in the coming months.