Making Their Way

For Tasnim Huque, the past few months have been full of surprises. Her Muslim parents, who immigrated to New York City from India’s sprawling eastern city of Calcutta in the late 1980s, are gradually allowing the 18-year-old to show some independence. While there’s little inhibiting most seniors at Hunter Science High School in Manhattan from attending the prom— except, perhaps, the cost of limos, gowns and tuxes— Huque was certain that she’d be missing it for a different reason: her 6 p.m. curfew. But her parents recently told her that she could, in fact, attend.“They even bought me a nice Westernized dress,” she says excitedly. And that’s not all she’s excited about.

Tough Love In The Big City

For young people born without that proverbial silver Spoon in their mouths, New York City has never been An easy place to grow up. It’s a tough love kind of city.For every person who has described a rather idyllic Childhood in old New York, there are many more who Remember a harsher one, going as far back as the days of Jacob Riis, the social activist and photographer who chronicled The lives of poor young people in Lower Manhattan in The late 19th century. What he saw and showed the world influenced attempts at making their tenement lives better. In How the Other Half Lives, he observed:“Bodies of drowned children turn up in the rivers right along in summer whom no one seems to know anything about. When last spring some workmen, while moving a pile of lumber on a North River pier, found under the last plank the body of a little lad crushed to death, no one had missed a boy, though his parents afterward turned up.”A contemporary of Riis’ in the late days of the 19th century did even more.

Check Cashers Get New Respect

Lakeisha Williams has a bank account. That doesn’t mean she always uses it. The home health aide from West Harlem sometimes can’t wait the few days it takes for her paycheck to clear. So she sacrifices about $20 to a check casher and gets her money immediately. “I ain’t got no problem with check cashers,” Williams says.Check-cashing stores have for years been easy targets for advocates of economic justice, who have argued that the industry provides an expensive service and takes advantage of people who can ill afford it.

Bigger Slice, Shrinking Pie

With 15 percent of all black employees represented by unions nationwide, blacks are more likely to be organized than are white, Asian or Latino workers. And black men are more often unionized than black women. However, the number of black workers represented by unions has fallen 24 percent over the past decade, more than for any other group. Black workers have a growing share of the shrinking pool of union jobs in America. This is the latest chapter in a complicated history.