Thursday, January 03, 2008

Melting Pot Without The Melting

So this summer I helped out the lovely Rachel Natalie Klein with an interview for IntoTheBox; Rachel does daily videos about NYC real estate themes, stories, issues, and my episode was called "The Manhattan Race Card" and themed around gentrification and neighborhood segregation in Manhattan/NYC.

At the end of the year she ran a Top 10 videos of the year, and 'gro-and-behold Race and Segregation and TAN win again! (#1 video bidges, I told y'all TAN moves units!)

When I first posted the video, I didn't really dig into the issue much. And honestly, gentrification is so HUGE there's really no way to cover your bases in a blog post. But some of the comments in their "And the winner is ..." post are interesting. Here are some quotes:

"well before the "mass exodus" of black people from the city we still were segregated. affordability aside, i'd live in harlem over any other neighborhood in the city."

"Interesting, however it doesn't mesh with my reality.... Maybe poorer or lower-middle class AfAms might be vacating the city due to price of housing and costs of living (really people your food and other stuff is expensive), but better off Blacks are not as sensitive to those matters. What may be needed is the growth and strengthening of the AfroAm middle & upper-middle class. If you want a stabilized population, the people need to own their studio apts, houses, land, etc."

"black people are being FORCED OUT. landlords are seeing the dollars and benefit in harrassing and forcing blacks out of their homes. it. something like ethnic cleansing."

"Whites looking for cheaper rents move into traditionally Black areas like the bronx are the problem. They are are contributing to the destruction of black culture and removal of the long time black residents."

"New York is one of the most segregated cities in the US. Most non-New Yorkers don't know that. I grew up in the East Bronx and after Co-op City opened*, I wasn't around whites until I entered high school, approx ten years later.....The Bronx was very Jewish. There was a very active synagogue across the street from the apt building where I grew up. It's now a regular store. There were Hebrew schools, stores, etc. all over the place. Going there now, unless you know where to look, you would never know."

"many of you need to cut the BS... where lower income blacks go, all hell follows... they destroy everything in their path - most notably themselves - and you'd have to be absolutely insane to want to live among them... I did it for three years in North Philly... i'm now in in NY and I'll never, ever, live in a lower income urban black neighborhood again... and it IS NOT because of the color of anyone's skin, I don't believe in any inherent racial "Defects", it's because of many socio-cultural reasons that I don't even comprehend fully... but I think I speak for a vast majority of non-racist whites when I say - i don't really care - I'm sick of hearing it... as much as the "white man" may be to blame to an extent, that song & dance is overshadowed by apathy, laziness, a disgusting sense of entitlement, and a sheer lack of any morality or humanity... get your sh*t together..."

Some good fodder there (and it never fails that someone will pull the "personal responsibility" card and soft-shoe around "many socio-cultural reasons" in discussions like this). In the video I echo some of the points I made for Time Out New York's Race Issue; basically saying we shouldn't see segregation as an inherently bad thing, differences should be embraced and cultivated. And Rachel closes asking: Are you a part of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet, or one of the most segregated?

The answer is both. But what does that mean, or why does it matter? I don't know for sure, but I do think this video commanding interest, and the stats related to the homogenizing of Manhattan mean that race and the exploring of "many socio-cultural reasons I don't comprehend fully" remains extremely important. And where better to start/continue mining this terrain than NYC?

That's all from me for now. Rachel and I will be working on a follow-up video soon, and I'm all into exploring dating/relationship stuff now so expect another hot seller tied to interracial love or some such thing. Just need to conduct more research on the subject .... *cough*

Here's to more TAN-homeys making paper and moving into the city in the '08.


  1. Anonymous1/03/2008

    You and Rachel should go out and explore Brooklyn also. It might even be more interesting than Manhattan now with Park Slope and Bed-Stuy not being that far from each other.

  2. Wow that woman is annoying. She even upstages the annoying-ness of the cutesy way all the stats are illustrated. Can I see a shot of that Saltine one more time? Now can we get it in the shape of New Jersey? Now bring out the cast of Fat Albert, and I'm going to need them all to drop one by one ... yeah, that's perfect.

  3. Blythe1/03/2008

    I'm mad at the salt/pepper/paprika comment! Not really, but I couldn't tell if you were serious or not. Doesn't matter, though, it made me chuckle. :-D

  4. I agree with Lisa G. - what's up with the statistics? The Bronx is primarily Hispanics AND Latinos? Definition, please.

  5. The demographics in the city are changing, but it's boring white mid-westerners like this making the city blander with their money and lack of taste. "Gentrified" neighborhoods lose their ethnic characteristics which made them "interesting" and affordable to begin with. Look at LES, Williamsburg, etc. Manhattan is still "diverse"- there is Chinatown, everything above 125th.

    Pretty nervy of these people to come here, completely uninformed, and thinking they are somehow socially responsible by raising these "important issues" of which they are the problem!


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