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Union Square New York

By Andrew Benson GreenePublished 4 years ago 4 min read

A few years ago on September 21st 2015, I visited New York on the invitation of the U.N. to attend the International Day of peace.

I wandered around after the event to explore some of the city's interesting landmarks and historical places.

Although it was n't my first time in visiting New York, I have often missed the opportunity to experience Manhattan's Union Square during my previous visits and thought that I should make amends for that skip this time. After a few days of interaction and engagement with the peace movers and shakers at the U.N. IDP, I ventured into the emporium of New York city.

Union Square, Manhattan. New York.

At my back is the Very impressive bronze equestrian portrait of the first President of the United States (George Washington) 1732-1799).

I was particularly fascinated by this sculpture, first because of its central position and location, its historical value as it is dedicated to the much revered 1st President of US. It is also being considered the oldest sculpture in the New York City Park collection, and the beauty of its artistry and artistic merit is easily recognizable.

The monument is energized by a boisterous surrounding of people chatting along the street way. You get to spot others lounging around or your attention will be easily drawn to hear music played by a youth band and amateur music artist fending for a living.

There are an assortment of activities at the Union Square with a mix of elderly folks pitting their wits against each other in several chess matches and checkers. I therefore stopped by and stood to watch the old folks sitting face-to face each-other ready to check-mate their opponents in the game of chess.

There were also several couples, and l believe they were lovers as they were intimately resting at the foot of the park with one absorbed in the other's shoulder.

There was also a throng of people stopping by to listen to a group of chanters from the International Society for Hare Krishna Consciousness, sitting on the floor with crossed- legs, chanting (Hare Krsna) or rhymes with 'drama'. You got to be careful not to be hit by the young riders with feet on skateboard riding down with a competitive speed.

I saw a couple of youth speedily passing by from Broadway skateboarding along the street sides, and trying to cleverly evade the pedestrians, huddling over road bumps and not trying to hit anyone or collide into cars or pedestrians.

The wide expanse and open space afforded freely by the Union Square allows for street art performances, music and dance drama. It thus encouraged youth and young adults to perfect their art, engage in a scintillating display of fine arts and music, and maybe a chance to escape the trappings of embroiling into youth gangs. For these artists out there, they enthralled the audience and eked out a living from pedestrians. The applause shows the overwhelming appreciation they got and it must be a motivation and a chance to perfect their arts as an amateur artist, whilst at the same time courageously fend for themselves in a space that they can consider all their own. This is a space which gives them freedom to transcend the culture of violence, and creatively bring to life their inner beauty as young people with dreams and hopes.

The rhythms from the drums and free-style dancing by NYC youth at the Union Square shows what can be achieved when the young are giving a creative space or when they have a freedom to discover, create such spaces and unravel for themselves an art that heals and allows them to survive the street life in NYC

These youth, once disconnected by a culture of violence and sometimes gang are claiming a more congenial place in society.

They are exposing their unsung talents and profoundly changing and improving an adulterated and often stereotypical view of them as the youth in inner cities prone to mischief.

I am aware that there is so much good embedded in young people and humanity as a whole when provided the chance to do so and society has to persistently look for that spark of ingenuity and take every chance to provide the space, even actualize a second chance to expose these good attributes to build self-esteem instead of prejudice against a particular set of people or instead of prioritizing racial profiling and violent constraint.

The street performances of these youth and young adults at the Union Square in New York tells me of a far different story, one that I embrace as a true spirit of hope and not rooted from an oft-painted picture of African American youth who are prone to a thug culture.

In these young artists who have found a different voice here, they seem to be channeling home a crystal clear message of having the positive human spirit, the creative edge and not the configuration of violence and norms, values and habits that are, disturbingly, rooted in a ghetto brand in inner cities.

For the young guys at Union square, it is by no means a street culture based on gangs and thuggery disdainfully attribute mostly to a black urban culture. This tainted picture is obliterated here in the real sense of a creativity that can be recognized and here to say. A creativity that is meant to endure and survive and where these youth can be seen as assets and not liabilities. I see a story where these youth are carrying forward their American dreams, which is a passionate image of America's most iconic values, that is, to see people who step ashore this land and have the courage to daringly rise above those societal and human obstacles of their past, to dare to succeed and fashion a brighter future and ultimately come to realize their dreams.

Here am I in NYC in 2015- pondering over the street talents of New York City

NYC - pondering over the street talents of New York City, the rising artist I met, the chess players, the young follower chanting the 'Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare', and explaining to me about the Krsna consciousness as an experience of self-purification



About the Creator

Andrew Benson Greene

Andrew was a Sauve Scholar at McGill Canada, a UN ITU Telecom World Digital Innovation Fellow in Geneva, a Masters of Science in Law student at Francis King Carey School of Law. He earned his BA from Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone in 1998

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    Andrew Benson GreeneWritten by Andrew Benson Greene

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