(Brownsville Recreation Center)
My Name is Joyce Hardmond Gabourel and I was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Technically it was Bed-Stuy, but I’m really a Brownsville-ite. I was married and divorced and I have a daughter. My daughter is married, and has been for five or six years now, and this year she’s having a baby girl. So I’m looking forward to that.
Having lived in Brownsville all of my life, I’ve seen several changes in the neighborhood. There just seems to be some negativity in people and how they think; meaning people often feel they can label our neighborhood. They assume that there’s nothing but criminals and bad things that happen here. Sometimes they do, but there are also some good things that happen here. It may not be all the time when you hear the good things, but I feel the younger people are missing something my generation had. I had a mother and father in the household and I think that a lot of younger people today do not have both—it’s a detriment to families. Sometimes you have children raising children, and how can a child raise a child? They still don’t know any better themselves. My parents were older. I was blessed to have them as my parents because they believed in God, they believed in family, and they believed in community. Back in the 60’s it was a different mindset. I’m not saying bad things didn’t happen, but it wasn’t around me. I feel like that was the best, the 60’s; it was the best decade of my life because I was child and I didn’t see all the bad things. There were big things happening in the world, you know with the civil rights movement, but I was in a cocoon, especially here in the North. So I’m just so blessed to have had my parents. I think they shielded us somewhat and they were just really great people. I know that if they were still here, they would be shocked at some of the things that are going on now. When I was growing up we were able to sit outside and play games. I hardly see children playing games like we used to. The reality is that for me back then, a child living through that decade, I had so much fun where I lived! It was good—nobody trying to snatch your child or anything. We just didn’t hear about those kinds of things in the neighborhood.
I believe that you are who you say you are. I am a poet; I write poetry. I’m also the family historian and genealogist for my family. I have my work experience, but that is something totally different. Who I believe I am creatively speaking, really has to do with being a poet, genealogist, and amateur dancer.
Dancing in the Tempest feels like a broadening of my horizon. I try to think outside the box. Sometimes you have to do something that may be uncomfortable. I just wanted to have the experience, so at least I could say, “I did this.” I just hope and pray I can remember exactly what I’m doing—to flawlessly go into whatever movement. That’s what I would like to see happen: that everybody be on the same page, and that we could flow together through each and every movement of the dance.