After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, concerned Greenpointers responded by organizing the McCarren Gathering. The Gathering, which was organized in part by the group North Brooklyn Mutual Aid, meets daily in McCarren Park to address racial injustice, economic injustice, and other issues afflicting BIPOC communities.
In addition to the daily meetings, McCarren Gathering has organized other events and initiatives since its inception over a year ago. One such initiative is the Freedom Market, which promotes and sells products from local BIPOC-owned small businesses.
“Freedom Market was created because of struggle,” said organizer Trevor Bayack. “It came out of this struggle I saw, the way that racism is rooted in economic issues. So we started coming together to talk strategy so we could channel resources from the haves to the have nots.”
The Freedom Market hopes to achieve this goal by offering exposures to local small businesses owned by people of color. The products on sale at the market range from baked goods to home essentials like soap, and customers are encouraged to bring their own bags and shop sustainably.
In addition to its economic mission, the Freedom Market — like the McCarren Gathering as a whole — aims to foster conversations about the realities of racism and the economic, social, and emotional impacts it has.
Originally from East Flatbush, Bayack moved to Greenpoint a couple years ago. He sees the Freedom Market and McCarren Gatherings as an opportunity to educate other Greenpointers and make the neighborhood more thoughtful and inclusive.
“Me personally, I had never fully felt welcome at McCarren Park,” said Bayack. “That’s why the McCarren Gathering is so empowering, because it’s occurring in a space that was not made for the Black and Brown community.”
“The people at the Gatherings are not people I would normally see,” he added. “After the murder of George Floyd, many people realized that they had to take action. So it isn’t preaching to the choir, but sharing our message with the community that needs to hear it.”
While the Freedom Market and McCarren Gathering is meant in part to educate people about injustice, the event is still primarily focused on elevating the voices and work of BIPOC communities.
“What we try to do at McCarren Gathering and the Freedom Market is let the people most affected be in leadership positions and have their voices heard,” said Bayack. “Our white allies are invaluable, but still they attend with the knowledge to defer to the affected communities.”
The Freedom Market is held every Friday at 7 p.m. near the baseball fields in McCarren Park, weather permitting. Additionally, McCarren Gathering organizes other programming at their daily meetings, including book clubs, open mics, self-defense classes, yoga instruction, and special pop-up events in other locations.
For additional information, follow Freedom Market on Instagram @freedommarketnbk.