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  • almost 5 years ago

    89 Comments

    Invisible Child, Part 1: Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life Information-grey

    She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.

    Slipping out from her covers, the oldest girl sits at the window. On mornings like this, she can see all the way across Brooklyn to the Empire State Building, the first New York skyscraper to reach 100 floors. Her gaze always stops at that iconic temple of stone, its tip pointed celestially, its facade lit with promise.

    ...

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  • almost 5 years ago

    11 Comments

    Invisible Child, Part 2: A Future Rests on a Fragile Foundation Information-grey

    Gracie Mansion is something of an oddity. In a city with a 2 percent vacancy rate and a shortage of public housing, the mayoral residence sits uninhabited on 11 pristine acres of the Upper East Side. It has been more than a decade since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg chose to remain in his opulent townhouse, consigning Gracie Mansion to the status of a museum and venue for civic events.

    Dasani knows none of these particulars when she steps through Gracie’s doors on a school trip in February. She is looking for the mayor. She wants to see him up close, this mysterious “Wizard of Oz” figure who makes decisions about her life from behind a curtain of political power.

    It...

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  • almost 5 years ago

    Invisible Child, Part 3: A Neighborhood’s Profound Divide Information-grey

    On the Brooklyn block that is Dasani’s dominion, shoppers can buy a $3 malt liquor in an airless deli where food stamps are traded for cigarettes. Or they can cross the street for a $740 bottle of chardonnay at an industrial wine shop accented with modern art.

    It is a sign outside that locale, Gnarly Vines, that catches Dasani’s notice one spring afternoon: “Wine Tasting Tonight 5-8.”

    Dasani is hardly conversant in the subject of libations, but this much she knows: A little drink will take off her mother’s edge. Without further ado, Chanel heads into the wine shop on Myrtle Avenue, trailed by four of her eight children. They are lugging two greasy boxes of pizza and a jumbo pack of diapers from Target.

    ...

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  • almost 5 years ago

    Invisible Child, Part 4: Finding Strength in the Bonds of Her Siblings Information-grey

    Children are not the face of New York’s homeless. They rarely figure among the panhandlers and bag ladies, war vets and untreated schizophrenics who have long been stock characters in this city of contrasts. Their homelessness is hidden. They spend their days in school, their nights in shelters. They are seen only in glimpses — pulling overstuffed suitcases in the shadow of a tired parent, passing for tourists rather than residents without a home.

    Their numbers have risen above anything in the city’s modern history, to a staggering 22,091 this month. If all of the city’s homeless children were to file into Madison Square Garden for a hockey game, more than 4,800 would not have a seat.

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  • almost 5 years ago

    1 Comment

    Invisible Child, Part 5: Reasons to Dream Information-grey

    Amob of spectators presses in, trying to see the tiny girl. Rap stars circle. The cameras roll. The crowd chants her name. “Da-Sa-Neee!” Her heart is racing. She looks up at the sky and extends her fingers, but cannot reach high enough to grasp the metal bar. A powerful man hoists her up by the waist.

    In an instant, she is midair, pulling and twisting acrobatically as the audience gasps at the might of this 12-year-old girl.

    “She’s...

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