Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Inadequate Black Man: A Missouri blogger's memory of his New York roots.

Over the weekend, the DNC Rules committee met to discuss the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates. Emotions ran high and the press was there to report it. This video:

has been shown on a lot of blogs and people have commented on it. This is in no way accusing Hillary supporters are racist. I personally know many Clinton supporters that have fought for progressive causes for decades and really believe that Hillary is the best person for the job.

This post is really not about Clinton supporters, though I don't know how Manhattan got disenfranchised. It is about how a blue state like NY can be one of the most racist states in the nation.

I was born in Queens. I lived there until I was nine. Even at a young age, I noticed that certain people had their own neighborhoods and it wasn't a good idea to wander into them. The Jewish people had their neighborhood in Kew Gardens, the Puerto Ricans lived in a section of Richmond hill and the Irish and Italian families pretty much lined the homes and apartments of 118th st. Seeing a black person was a rarity. In my neighborhood, I could count on one hand the times I saw an African American. When one was seen, they were met with suspicion and contempt. My own mother told me to stay away from "them" because one of "them" murdered a white kid on a bike by the Mc Donald's on Jamaica Ave.

When I moved to Valley Stream in Nassau county, things were not very much different. I spend 8 years in Valley stream and during my time in the public school, I saw only one (1) black student and he was an exchange student from South Africa. What really got me thinking is when he started to talk about apartheid, most of us were pretty appalled. however it opened my eyes to what was sort of an apartheid in how we lived. Black and Latinos families were red lined away from white neighborhoods and shown only homes in "their" neighborhoods. Racism in New York takes on a territorial nature when this practice was encouraged. It is also a covert form of racism, since clashes tend to be rare and the facade of peace is put forth.

In 1983, I moved to Columbia, Mo. It was a culture shock indeed. Stores closed to early and couldn't find a decent pizza (still can't). however I noticed that among those in the same socioeconomic class, black and whites lived in close proximity and mingled together with relative ease. This was unheard of where I had lived before. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of racist crud about. But it was an overt form of racism. You knew who hated who and there was no facade. In NY, it was hard to see how people would react with an intra-racial situation when they never would have the opportunity to be in one.

The video brought back memories and history to me. Too bad, history is repeating itself

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