Nicole Malliotakis Ignores Racism

     When I first started Staten Island Community News a few months ago, I had no intention of politicizing my blog. Its purpose is to provide information based on facts, personal accounts by people who experience them, etc. It is a way to show the good in Staten Island.      

I saw a video today that made me sick to my stomach, and as small as my platform is, I felt the need to use my blog to express my absolute disgust with NY-11 congressional candidate, Nicole Malliotakis’ response to a genuine question.

Let’s Breakdown the Video:

Today I asked Nicole Malliotakis what her plans were to make the South Shore safer for BIPOC. She refused to answer me. So yeah, vote for Max Rose. It really shouldn’t be this difficult to answer your constituent’s questions.

Posted by Danielle Jean on Monday, October 19, 2020

      This video was filmed by a white woman at the Shoprite on Veteran’s Road West, who approached Nicole Malliotakis to talk about her boyfriend’s experiences as a black man on the South Shore of Staten Island. She asked Nicole Malliotakis how she planned to make the South Shore safer for BIPOC. Malliotakis evaded the question by saying she’d be happy to speak with her boyfriend but would not answer the question on the spot. Malliotakis then followed up with “I support the police” and subsequently ignored the woman who had asked her the question.

Nicole Malliotakis Has A Moral Responsibility

 I came to the conclusion that speaking about this video is not a political statement for or against a particular candidate but rather against characteristics and behaviors we need less of, not more. What Nicole Malliotakis did is simple: She disregarded another human being’s pain. End of argument. It is of utmost importance to hear out and acknowledge a person’s pain. When you acknowledge that a person is hurt, you are making them feel validated as a human being. Compassion goes a long way. This woman felt like her potential congresswoman disregarded the racism her boyfriend endured. At BARE MINIMUM Malliotakis could have offered her words of comfort and encouragement. As a leader in our community, Malliotakis’ actions set an example for people to follow. This is not the example she should have set.

      Her response, “I support the police” is irrelevant to a report of racism. Racism is wrong any way you look at it. To conflate a person’s experience of racism with anti-cop rhetoric is irresponsible. One does not have to do with the other. What do the undertones of that statement suggest? Do people who are racist towards black people support the police and therefore Malliotakis supports them? Are all black people and allies who speak of racism on Staten Island anti-cop? Why is it hard to admit that some people do bad things? Is she afraid of losing votes? Does she know those are the type of people who will vote for her and not Max Rose? Why would she want those kinds of votes anyway? It’s all incredibly disturbing.

Empathy is Needed in Staten Island

     Loathe that I am to admit it, there is a good chance that Nicole Malliotakis will win the congressional seat and represent Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn at the federal level. There are more than just white South Shore people living in the NY-11 constituency and it would be in Malliotakis’ best interest (and ours) if she acknowledges that there are experiences that people endure that she has not. She should acknowledge these issues exist, even if she has not experienced racism herself. Calling for people to show respect, kindness, empathy, and good-will towards neighbors of all walks of life should be a natural and easy thing for anyone -particularly a congressperson- to do, especially when that congressperson represents such a diverse body of people. 

On October 18th, Staten Island Community News requested Nicole Malliotakis to engage in a non-partisan interview with us but she has yet to respond. We urge her to participate in an interview and we hope that she will be open to discussing cultural diversity and the impact racism has on Staten Island. 

Nicole Malliotakis repeal bail reform rally
Nicole Malliotakis at a rally calling for bail reform. Source:

Staten Island Feeds It Forward

The Birth of Staten Island Feeds It Forward

It is no secret that COVID-19 has caused unprecedented food insecurity. So many people have found themselves suddenly unemployed and making choices between buying groceries or paying bills. While food drives are helpful and needed, they are transient by nature, and supplies are never guaranteed.

Five women from Staten Island have come up with their own solution to Staten Island’s food insecurity problem. The beauty of their idea is that it is ongoing, always in motion, and benefits everyone involved. This is an introduction to one of Staten Island’s newest humanitarian projects, Staten Island Feeds it Forward.

Mariana Howard has been a resident of Staten Island for 15 years. She and her husband purchased a house in New Orleans, LA in 2012 and split their time between the two locations for 7 years. Throughout the pandemic, she has remained connected to the New Orleans community. Through these connections, she learned of a New Orleans pizzeria’s solution to the pandemic-related food insecurity.

The pizzeria had begun a Pay It Forward program: A customer can add the price of an extra slice to their order. The receipts for the prepaid slices are placed on a wall. Anyone who needs a slice but might not be able to pay can take a receipt from the wall and bring it to the register. They get their pizza with no questions asked and the pizzeria doesn’t lose any money.  

The pizzeria’s Pay It Forward program struck Mariana because of the discretion it afforded. This method can keep a person’s dignity intact while satisfying their need for sustenance.

Thus, the tiny seed of Staten Island Feeds It Forward was planted in Mariana’s mind. Using Facebook as a resource, she found a group of like-minded local people and asked if anyone was interested in helping her get this idea off the ground locally. Soon, Mary Ellen Smith, Heather Browand, Carolyn Adinolfi, and Patricia Clay joined her, each bringing their own talents to the grassroots project. The team soon partnered with a local 501c non-profit organization, that agreed to help execute the final part of the Feeds It Forward process.

How It Works:

  • The core team of Staten Island Feeds it Forward reaches out to local quick-serve eateries to participate in the program and provides a sign for the restaurant to place by the register. 
  • Customers can choose to buy an additional item from the eatery’s menu.
  • The pre-paid food item is printed on a receipt, which is then collected by members of SI Feeds It Forward. 
  • SI Feeds It Forward’s non-profit partner collects the receipts.
  • The 501c non-profit then distributes the receipts to people in need, who can bring the receipt back to the restaurant when they are ready to claim their food or hot beverage. 

Why This Works

Restaurants and eateries are struggling under COVID-19 restrictions. This project will generate additional revenue for the restaurant while also helping to curb food insecurity during these unexpected times. 

How You Can Help

  • Staten Island Feeds it Forward is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of jobs. 
  • If you are a restaurant and want to join the Feeds It Forward partnership, you can reach out to them here
  • Restaurant patrons should look for the Feeds It Forward sign at local quick-serve eateries to contribute a hot bite to someone who could use it.

It is the work of out-of-the-box thinkers and humanitarians who move our society forward with compassion and kindness. It is something we need more of during these trying times and Staten Island Community News is deeply grateful to these women for dedicating their free time to such an important project.

Indigenous Staten Island History

Plus Some Facts about Christopher Columbus

Staten Island’s Indigenous History

  • Staten Island was originally inhabited by tribes of the Lenape Nation. Their specific names are not known, however, they are generally called the Munsee, which was a dialect spoken in the region. 
  • There is documented proof of the Lenapes living on the West Shore of Staten Island as far back as 10,000 BC when most of the North American continent was covered by a glacier. As the glacier receded, the Lenape began moving around the island in seasonal camps. 
  • The Lenape called Staten Island, Aquehonga Manacknong, which is translated to, “the place of bad woods.”
  • The largest Native American burial ground is called “Burial Ridge” and is a protected site located in Tottenville’s Conference House Park.
  • In 1770, the chiefs of the Lenni-Lenape agreed to sell Staten Island to New York Governor, Francis Lovelace.  
  • Nothing is named after Indigenous cultures on Staten Island, which sets it apart from all the other boroughs and surrounding areas. 

Christopher Columbus

“In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

Facts about Christopher Columbus and his story:

  • Christopher Columbus knew the Earth was round. Pythagoras (c. 570 – c. 495 BC), Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Euclid (300 BC) all wrote about the Earth being a spherical shape well before Christopher Columbus was born.  Educated people during Columbus’ time knew the Earth was round.
  • The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were not the names of Columbus’ ships.
    • The Nina was the nickname for the la Santa Clara
    • The Santa Maria was actually la Santa Gallega
    • The Pinta’s is also believed tot be a nick-name, though the actual name is unknown.
  • Christopher Columbus landed in Caribbean islands, Central and South American coasts, but he never traveled to the North American continent.
  • He captured the Arawak natives of the Caribbean islands, forcing them into slavery.
    • Because of the atrocities against the Arawak natives, Arawaks began participating in mass suicides and poisoning their infants to spare them from the cruelty of the Spaniards.
  • Christopher Columbus was governor of Hispaniola, where he mistreated Spanish colonists. When the King and Queen of Spain heard of his mistreatments, he was arrested, brought back to Spain, and stripped of his governorship. 

Quotes from Christopher Columbus

  • “They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things … They willingly traded everything they owned … They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features …. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. … They would make fine servants. … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”  -Columbus’ journal entry regarding the Arawak natives in the Bahamas
  • “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.” Written by Colubus after the 1,300 surviving Arawak men, women, and children taken from Caribbean islands were sold as slaves in Spain. 

Quotes from Bartolome de las Casas

Bartolome de las Casas was a young priest who participated in the conquest of Cuba and wrote a history of the Indies.
  • “Two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.” 
  • “Endless testimonies … prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives. … But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy; small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of us now and then…. The admiral, it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians …“ 

The European Exchange

Columbus did not discover North America, as we were taught in elementary school. With his travels to the “New World,” came what became known as the Columbian Exchange. The Columbian Exchange was an important time in the history of our world in that it brought about the transfer of plants, animals, cultures, and people between the Americas and Europe. This connection between “worlds” was unprecedented and for better or worse, historically significant. The Columbian Exchange helped Europe become wealthy and powerful in ways that had not been seen before. 

To acknowledge these benefits to Europe, and the eventual colonization, and advancements in North America, without also acknowledging that these benefits came on the backs of indigenous people subjected to atrocities such as torture, and enslavement, is a willful display of ignorance and avoidance of personal growth. Good can come from bad, but it is important to remember the bad to learn from it, to acknowledge the mistakes, and grow as a society.

Who Really Did Travel to North America First?

Historians acknowledge Viking expeditions to North America as historical fact. An ancient Norse settlement was discovered in Canada in 1960 by Anne Stine Ingstad and her husband Helge Ingstad. This confirmed the documentation of Viking explorer, Leif Erikson’s expedition to “Vinland,” which is now a Canadian province of Newfoundland. 

Leif Erikson Statues

Though there are many statues of Christopher Columbus globally, there are only a handful of Leif Erikson statues throughout the world. Here is a list of the ones in the United States:

  • Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA (1887) 
  • Juneau Park, Milwaukee, WI (1887) 
  • Humbolt Park, Chicago, IL (1901)
  • Marinor’s Museum, Newport News, VA (1938)
  • State capitol, St. Paul, MN (1949)
  • Duluth, MN (1956)
  • Shilshole Bay Marina, Seattle, WA (1962) 
  • Scandinavian Heritage Park, Minot, ND (1993)
  • Cleveland, OH (2001)
  • Lodge of the Sons of Norway, Ballard, Seattle, WA (2003)

Amanda Donates (and Helps New Yorkers)

Meet Amanda Lyons

via Instagram @amanda_donates

Scrolling through the Amanda Donates Instagram feed is like looking at a snapshot of every specialized charity organization in New York City. Toy drives, food drives, clothing drives; Amanda Donates does it all. 

Amanda Lyons works at a law-firm as a paralegal and attends law school at night. Somehow, despite her busy schedule, she finds time to help save her part of the world.  

A Staten Island native and current Rossville resident, Amanda has hosted occasional toy drives in the past. Hearing about food insecurity and struggles due to the pandemic turned her desire to help others into more than an occasional hobby. “I decided to hold a food drive in April of this year after seeing several news articles about food pantries with an influx in demand and lines that stretched several blocks long.”  

Amanda Donates

Amanda has amassed a team of volunteers, which consist of friends, family, co-workers, and social media followers. Between April and September of this year, she collected non-perishable food items and distributed them at pop-up pantries. Each pop-up pantry provides food to 300-400 families. Amanda has collected and distributed over $25,000 in donations since April.

via Instagram @amanda_donates

In addition to pop up food pantries, Amanda hosted a fundraiser for a local animal shelter, which was impacted by COVID-19. Two additional fundraisers were held for families who lost their homes in fires. Amanda Donates also provided school supplies and sanitizing supplies to a local Staten Island school to help them meet the demands of this unprecedented school year. With the upcoming holiday season, Amanda Donates will begin collecting Thanksgiving food items to distribute throughout NY, with the goal of helping 2,000 families.  

How It Operates

Some companies such as Hach and Rose Law Firm and Pagano Melon Corp have donated toward the cause. Even with donations from these companies, this project has been entirely grass-roots. It is run through word of mouth and Amanda personally organizes all of the drives and fundraisers, collecting donations via social media.

Amanda Donates is currently in the process of filing as a 501c3 non-profit due to the expansive demands it is trying to meet. Amanda’s goal is to partner with larger businesses and corporations to expand her outreach.

Follow Amanda Donates

We expect to see more from the Amanda Donates charity in the coming months and years, as it grows. To follow Amanda Donates’ progress or to reach out for assistance you can contact her via Instagram or Facebook.