Humans of New York

Humans of New York @humansofny

New York City, one story at a time.

Hey, Seattle! I'll be in town next Sunday (October 22nd) to share the story behind Humans of New York at Benaroya Hall. Come if you can! Will be an awesome evening. The event is at 7:30 PM. You can get 20% off the ticket price by entering the promo code: HUMANS. Link in bio.
There are now eight episodes of Humans of New York: The Series available on Facebook! The New York Times calls it 'very powerful.' The Week calls it 'social media at it's best.' I call it 'that thing I spent four years on.' So check it out if you get a chance! Link in bio.
There are now eight episodes of Humans of New York: The Series available on Facebook! The New York Times calls it 'very powerful.' The Week calls it 'social media at it's best.' I call it 'that thing I spent four years on.' So check it out if you get a chance! Link in bio.
“Zoe loves the movies. So I knew if I was going to propose, it had to involve the movies. But I can’t make a movie myself because I don’t work in film. So I had to get creative. I ordered a black-and-white Italian film from a vintage film dealer. It seemed vaguely romantic. I spent four months editing it on my computer. I changed all the subtitles. I cut out the harem scene. I completely changed the plot so that it resembled our lives. I wrote some dialogue about picture frames because Zoe’s family owns a frame shop. And I love trains. So I made the main character a train enthusiast. When I finished the editing, I rented out a small theater with sixty seats. I invited all of Zoe’s friends and family. I made sure everyone sat in the front and didn’t turn around. The weather was beautiful that day. Zoe didn’t want to go to a movie. We got in a big fight about it, but I finally convinced her. I was so nervous that I laughed during the whole film. I’d seen all the jokes 1000 times but I laughed at them anyway. Then during the final scene, the main characters started speaking to the audience, and one of them asked: ‘Does anyone here want to get married?’ So I stood up. The lights came on. All her friends and family turned around. And I gave a speech that I prepared. I was so nervous that I forgot to ask the actual question. But Zoe bailed me out and said ‘yes’ anyway.”
“My mom went off when she found out I was gay. It’s not accepted in Jamaican culture. I had to pretend I was ‘over it’ just so I could stay in the house. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. I was always getting in fights with other kids. I didn’t even have a real friend until I was seventeen. I joined my school’s volleyball team, and the coach paired me up with a boy named Winnie to work on drills. I was still in the closet. He was much more flamboyant than me. He’d make me laugh. We’d talk about other boys on the team. He showed me how to not take myself so seriously. And we had similar backgrounds too. Winnie lived in a single parent home. His mother didn’t accept his lifestyle either. Sometimes we’d talk on the phone at night. Or we’d get a slice of pizza after practice. These were things that I’d never done with anyone before. I never pursued anything romantic because I couldn’t risk the friendship. It was the first time I didn’t feel alone."
“I came to America when I was six years old. Mom said she brought us here so that we’d have opportunities in life. She said that back in the Bahamas, it’s only the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ She wanted us to have more choices. But I don’t think she fully understood how things work here. She was a news reporter back in the Bahamas. But the only job she could get here was taking care of old people. My dad could only work construction. We moved to four different states just so they could find work. They always told me, ‘Just study hard in school and everything will work out fine.’ So that was my plan. I got all A’s up until the 11th grade-- except for one B in math. My goal was to get top twenty in my class, then go to college, then get a degree, and then get a job. I realized the truth my senior year. My guidance counselor told me I couldn’t get a loan. I couldn’t get financial aid. Even if I could find a way to pay for school, I probably couldn’t get a job. I felt so mad at everyone. There were some kids who completely slacked off in school, but even they were going to college. I started having panic attacks. My dad told me not to worry. He called me a ‘doubting Peter.’ He invited all his friends over to a fish fry to help raise money. And he did get $3,000. But that wasn’t enough. So I searched really hard on the Internet and found the scholarship. My mom was so excited when I got it. They’re paying for me to go to Queens College. Now my mom’s really scared again because DACA got revoked. She’s crying all the time at work. I try to tell her that no matter what happens, we’re not going to die. We just might have to start over.”
Six episodes of Humans Of New York: The Series are now available on Facebook. Link in bio. NYT calls "very powerful." The Week calls "social media at it's best." You. will. love. it.
“I was on a leadership team in 5th grade. At the end of the year we were supposed to take a trip to Washington DC. We held fundraisers and everything. But when it was time to go, I didn’t have the identification papers to buy a plane ticket. So our teacher Ms. Rivera decided that we’d take a bus. Just so I could go too. That trip changed my life. It made me want to be a lawyer. And Ms. Rivera became one of the closest people in my life. She always kept in touch. She basically watched me grow up. One time in high school I got in a huge fight with my mom, and Ms. Rivera came and took me on a long car ride. I started to tell her everything. I told her about a recent break-up, and how I smoked weed, and ‘I did this,’ and ‘I did that.’ She just listened to everything. Then she started telling me about her life too. She told me that she’d been in an abusive relationship. I’d always thought her life was perfect because she was a guidance counselor. But she’d been through so much too. When it was came time to apply for college, Ms. Rivera was the one who helped me apply for DACA. She told me about the scholarship. I didn’t even want to apply. I was ready to give up. I’d just accepted that I’d always work in restaurants like my mom. But Ms. Rivera made me apply. She said: ‘What happened to that girl who wanted to be a lawyer?’ I learned that I got the scholarship in February. They're paying for my entire college. Ms. Rivera was so proud of me. She kept saying: ‘I told you so.’”
“I was just a year old when my family came from Ecuador. My parents were always open with me about it. Even from a young age. I was lucky that way-- a lot of undocumented kids don’t find out the truth until they’re much older. Their parents never tell them because they want them to feel normal. So the kids grow up thinking that they’re 100 percent American. Then they try to study abroad, or apply to colleges, and they find out they don’t have the papers. And it hits them hard. It’s like they’ve got to figure themselves out all over again. They learn that they aren’t a part of the culture they grew up in. And they start to feel a sense of shame. Nobody ever talks about it. They’re too afraid. I certainly never told anyone. That’s why DACA was so interesting. It gave us the smallest amount of safety. People started to step out of the shadows, and say ‘I’m here.’ We began to find each other. Now there’s a community. And we’re speaking out together. We grew up in this culture. We grew up with the same kids as everyone else. This is our home.”
New episode of Humans Of New York : The Series, now available on Facebook! (Link in bio.) If you're only on Instagram these days, may require dusting off the FB account, but I promise it's worth it. :)
“We were pretty poor back in Mexico. My parents were divorced. Mom did the best she could. She was always a hustler. She’d sell jewelry, or food, or anything that she could. But a lot of nights there still wouldn’t be enough to eat. We’d survive on tortillas and salt. I was only eight when we came to America. So I was too young to understand. I think my mom thought she could make some money and bring us home. She thought she’d learn English, and maybe start a business. But it was so much harder than she expected. We moved so much looking for work. She’s fifty and she still cleans houses every day. Every year she gets more worn down. She’s been getting sick a lot lately. But she can’t afford to stop. She never will. Right now I’m in school. I always thought I had to be the best student because I’m undocumented. I thought I’d go to law school, or graduate school. But now I’m not so sure. My mom would literally destroy her body to make that happen for me. How could I allow that to happen? I’m a Dreamer. And everyone loves the Dreamers because we’re a perfect package to sell. But why am I the only one who gets the chance to feel safe? Whenever I hear ‘I stand with Dreamers,’ I always think about my mom. I’m not willing to throw her under the bus. I'm not willing to be a bargaining chip to make her seem like a criminal. Everything people admire about Dreamers is because of our parents.”
First four episodes of Humans Of New York : The Series, now available on Facebook! Pretty sure it's the best thing I've ever made, so check it out if you get a chance. Link in bio.
“I got divorced when I was sixty-four. We had a good run. We were married for 36 years. We’re not enemies. We just outgrew each other. When the kids were in the house, all our focus was on them. But after they left, there just wasn’t any reason to keep doing it. We were just living our own lives—together. Neither of us was all that interested in changing. So what’s the point in staying together? If you talk to most people my age, and they’re really being honest, they’ll tell you that they’re dissatisfied with their partner. But then they’ll shrug their shoulders and say: ‘Where else am I going to go?’ Because most people can’t stand to be alone. My ex-wife and I never had that problem.”
First four episodes of Humans Of New York : The Series, now available on Facebook! NYT calls it "very powerful" and "poignancy on steroids." Link in bio. Click on over and give it a whirl!
“My first time was October 18th, 2013. I was a freshman in college. I was alone in my dorm room and I’d just eaten a bunch of Halloween candy. So I purged it. I felt great afterward. I thought I’d discovered a new tool. It seemed like a way to stop gaining weight. But it became very powerful, very quickly. My second time was two days later. Soon it became most meals. I became addicted to watching the numbers drop. I lost all power over it. I was dizzy and depressed all the time. I couldn’t focus in class or go out with friends. For five months, I lost all control. Then I finally got help. I started talking about it. And the more I talked about it, the more control I got back. The eating disorder lost its power when it stopped being a secret. I’m much better now, but I’ll always be recovering. A few weeks ago I had a relapse. It was the first time in months. Even though I was disappointed, I reminded myself that it wasn’t the end of the world. I haven’t lost all the progress I’ve made over the past four years. I just need to stay positive. And keep talking about it.”
First two episodes of 'Humans Of New York: The Series' are now available on Facebook! Filmed over 4 years. Created from over 1200 interviews. Link in bio.
First two episodes of 'Humans Of New York: The Series' are now available on Facebook! Filmed over 4 years. Created from over 1200 interviews. Link in bio.