More Perspectives On Anti-Gentrification Graffiti At Church Avenue


church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak A few weeks ago, neighbor Cori Carl contributed a Ditmas Park Perspective piece on anti-gentrification sentiments written at the Church Avenue B/Q stop. Many others joined the conversation to talk about race, class, and even age, and how best to keep the Ditmas Park area affordable and welcoming for all–or, alternatively, how no one should feel entitled to a home in a particular place. Gentrification is a loaded concept–on our comment thread alone, neighbors seemed to have several different definitions of it, and accordingly felt positively or negatively (or were wrestling with conflicting feelings) about it. Especially considering recent concern over potential targeted sabotage of rental housing in up-and-coming areas, major chains like Domino’s moving into former mom-and-pop spaces, and whether the Kings Theatre’s planned security measures are racially motivated, the discussion seems nowhere near finished–so when neighbors contribute their thoughts on gentrification (or public accounts of others’ thoughts on it), it seems important to document those thoughts, and to learn about the repercussions of the conversation. Neighbor Nick Kozak recently sent in photos of more Church Avenue station messages… church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak

church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak

… including some responses from other neighbors.

church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak

The small stickers read, “If you really wanna rise up, you wouldn’t fight racism with racism. I actually grew up a few blocks away, but thanks for judging. I may look white, but you don’t know shit about me or my family. Even if you did, it shouldn’t matter because a rich and strong culture is hindered by ethnocentrism. Don’t make me feel unwelcome. What good will it do you?” church avenue subway graffiti by Nick Kozak Neighbor Caroline Piela also sent in a recent xoJane article by writer Phoebe Robinson, whose local subway station is Church Avenue. Says Phoebe in her piece, Keep Your Gentrification Assumptions To Yourself, Neighbors — It’s All Good In Our Interracial Relationship Household:

[I]t’s not just graffiti. I’ve noticed the amount of stares that my boyfriend and I have been getting has increased exponentially. We’ve been dating for almost three years and most strangers seemed to be OK with it, but during this past year, there’s been an influx of white people moving into the building… and the indifferent glances now have fire behind them…

… [G]entrification, especially in Brooklyn, is a serious issue. It displaces plenty of business owners and apartment renters. It sends a message that people of color don’t deserve quality like a decent grocery store or a good convenience store until developers and CEOs decide to lure white folks with disposable income to another area. The wealthy can get richer while people like me get priced out.

That’s right — after living in my neighborhood for the past six years, I will have to move when my lease is up because I can’t afford to stay here by myself. So, hey, people on the street giving my boo and me dirty look? I. Get. It. I’m affected by gentrification just as much as you are. I’m just as powerless as you are…

Clearly, the effects of gentrification are messy, ugly, and complicated, but these garbage graffiti signs and ugly stares we have to endure is utter nonsense. And I’m pretty sure that if I went to my boyfriend’s neighborhood and saw various graffiti about how black people bring down the value of the area and that it is a white neighborhood, the main people writing these signs would be running to my defense. So knock it off. Avert your eyes when we cross your path if you can’t handle it. Curse us out in your head if you want to. But keep in mind that he’s probably not so different from you: broke and living in Brooklyn.

Have the recently-posted signs at Church Avenue, or experiences like the stares directed at Phoebe and her boyfriend, actually done more good than harm? Have you begun communicating more honestly with your neighbors about the changes in our neighborhood, have you made a conscious effort to become part of your building or block’s community, or have you taken some other action that you might not have taken before seeing the graffiti or reading about it?

All photos by Nick Kozak

Comment policy


  1. I’ve lived here for five years, and these signs still make me feel awful. What makes this especially frustrating is that our neighborhood is one of the most diverse communities in Brooklyn, historically filled with all different kinds of races. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, “belong” to any one race.

  2. I walked past this last night…WTF! This is flat out racist. It’s promoting the ghettoization of a neighborhood and it’s anti-diversity.

  3. I sympathize with people who are adversely impacted by the influx of a new demographic, economic and racial. And race is obviously a part of it. This is America and we’re a racist country with a horribly racist past and it’s infected everything. But here’s the question that never seems to get answered (because perhaps there isn’t an answer). I’m white, I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 14 years. I am not wealthy by any definition of the word, but I have a solid job and the benefit of a middle-class background and upbringing. I moved to Flatbush because i couldn’t afford to live where I was before and it seemed like a nice, interesting neighborhood. Where would the nonwhite community of Flatbush prefer that I go? I’m not being argumentative, I’m not looking for sympathy, and I’m not in any way trying to cry victimization. I’m privileged to even have the option to move. But I’m asking honestly. Because if it meant not displacing people (if even unintentionally) with my presence, I would go there. But the amount of money my family has to work with offers limited options, and most of the neighborhoods tend to be largely nonwhite. This isn’t a problem for us except for the obvious issue of gentrification. But what is the alternative? Certainly those being displace have it far, far worse and have a right to be angry, but in the spirit of open dialogue, I offer that question.

  4. The handwriting on the original signs all looks very similar, if that’s what you’re asking. I’m no McGruff the Crime Dog, but yes, I would expect that was all done by one person. However, I also believe there is truth to what Phoebe says she has experienced from multiple people, and would not be surprised to hear about others’ similar experiences.

    Either way, what has potential to be great about this is that it seems to be facilitating some discourse not many people were comfortable having before. The original graffiti could be entirely discouraging and angering and something to simply wallow in, or it could be a very positive catalyst in a different way than its author intended for it to be.

  5. I grew up in Flatbush,which changed from a mostly Catholic white neighborhood, into a mostly Jewish white neighborhood, then a partly Caribbean black neighborhood, etc. What struck me was the candy-store owner, who was always happy, had numbers on his arm.He lived in a simple walk-up next to his store, with wife and daughter.There were also grand mansions, in this same neighborhood.What I liked was the openness, the diversity of the neighborhood.To me, this is what makes a city.

  6. I am renovating old apartments in this area as fast as I can and selling them to people that will appreciate and take care of them. I don’t care what color the neighborhood is or becomes.

  7. From a NYTimes article, 1982:

    “[He] haunted the Jewish delicatessens and the restaurants along Church Avenue, like Herzl’s and Sammy’s, where he ordered chicken soup with matzoh balls, gefilte fish and chopped liver…

    Herzl’s and Sammy’s are gone, and so are the Jewish delicatessens, replaced by Korean grocers and Chinese takeout places. ”When my family first moved here, in 1916, the area was primarily white Protestants,” explained Mr. McAllister, who lives in a grand white plantation-style house on Albemarle Road. ”We were one of the first Irish families to move in. From that time on, the Protestants were replaced by Irish Catholics and then, starting in the early 1920’s,
    Jewish families. By 1947 the Jewish group had moved in pretty thoroughly. And then, in the last 10 or 15 years, there have been the black families.”

    Many of the newest arrivals are West Indians, and the changing population is attested to by the windows of the Gig Young Bakery on Church Avenue, near Ocean Avenue: once called Dubin’s, a placewhere people came to buy real Jewish rye and hallah, the bakery now features signs advertising ”Jamaican fruitcake” and ”Trinidad twist bread.”

  8. Here is a record of the history of the area and, as mentioned by others, how it has changed over the years. My parents remember Church & Flatbush being where the fancy stores were. For good and bad, neighborhoods change – sadly often at the hands of unscrupulous real estate developers.

  9. Literally nothing that can be done about gentrification. Let this guy vent, it’s happening and you’re a fool if you think the neighborhood doesn’t already see it (and hate it) with or without the graffiti.

    As soon as the Church Q gets priced out for the working class whites and gentrifiers, they’ll start moving across the Ave to the Church 2/5 and so on…

  10. I’m with guest, as far as the complexity of middle (or is i lower?)class privilege goes. I live here because I was priced out from my previous neighborhood, can’t afford lots of other areas that’d be closer to work. I live in an old self-renovated apartment, owned by a wonderful woman who’s lived here her entire life and tells lovely stories about the old times and her long-gone neighbors. I don’t get to eat out on Cortelyou, keep a tight budget, and desperately hope the rent won’t go up too much for me and my fiance to afford the place.

  11. While we’re on the topic of gentrification, what’s next? I want to get a head start before I get priced out again. Bay Ridge?

  12. everyone commenting about how flatbush USED to be is missing the point. people are being forced out of the only homes they have right NOW and finding new housing is damn near impossible. just because you can find a website that helps you rationalize a way to make it a non-issue for you doesn’t mean it’s a non-issue.

    any excuse to talk about this is a good one. learn a little empathy and stop trying to sweep it under your convenient rug.

  13. so what’s the solution? there’s always talk about how bad gentrification is but nothing can be done.

  14. After we win the war against gentrification, I hope that we can do something about gravity. It’s been keeping us down for so long, but I think we can beat it if we just stand together.

  15. i don’t have a solution. whether he intended it in this way or not, i think hakeem jeffries’ likening of gentrification to cancer works in this instance. just because you don’t have the cure for cancer doesn’t mean you stop talking about it. just because cancer has existed in the past and continues to claim lives now doesn’t mean you give up on trying to find a way to stop it in the future.

    if you can be satisfied with “nothing can be done,” that tells me you don’t need something to be done as badly as the people who are feeling the brunt of this, and will get the brunt of this in the future, need it. i get that we’re all busy and worried for our own livelihoods, and it can be hard to make time or mental space for others, but this “nothing can be done” rhetoric is a nice red carpet to roll out for developers.

  16. I’m white and was priced out of Greenpoint. I was pissed that the building management would be so greedy. I lived in north Brooklyn for 8 years. I can’t imagine how mad I would be if I had lived in that neighborhood my whole life. Regardless of race. The polish never really excepted me in Greenpoint, but that’s because they didn’t know me. Culture regardless of race creates bonds that new comers just aren’t a part of. If the graffiti read, keep Greenpoint Polish, would we care so much?

  17. Gentrification is about economics. It is only incidentally about race. It is about market forces pushing poor people out of certain neighborhoods. It is not about white bigots deciding that they want to screw over black folks by buying up all the property in their neighborhoods.

    I think the person writing this graffiti lacks a basic understanding of gentrification and perhaps has some hangups about race.

  18. Kensington was in fact at one point the most diverse zip code in the entire United States (which probably made it a good candidate for one of the most diverse in the world).

  19. Agreed. Some people seem to believe that, if only we were all the same color, rich people would stop buying up desirable property in up-and-coming neighborhoods.

    Get a grip, people!

  20. you need to let people know in real life not just on forums.. you all talk alot on forums but not to real blacks in real life.

  21. I have no problem with “white” people living in the neighborhood. the graffiti about white gentrification is uncomfortable because it reflects badly on the neighborhood. I dont like it one bit.. However, I dont like to be priced out either.

  22. However this time its different.. blacks didn’t price out the jews or who ever was here before.. the blacks moved in and the whites moved OUT!. . what is happening today is not simply ” an ever changing NYC” its systematic class and ethnic cleansing.. when you rename neighborhoods, clamp down on requirements to get apartments, become more strict on loans in the area, aggressively go after tenants for late chronic late payment- something that never use to happen before now- and harass old ladies to give up their rent controlled apartment, clearly doing it to cater to a new , affluent crowd. What is happening now is TOTALLY DIFFERENT… its predatory and wrong…

  23. I dont know what this means………………what is happening now is not the same as what happend in the past when the great white FLIGHT happened. No one priced whites out.. no one forced any one out based on how much you can afford.. sorry.. but NO.

  24. Neighborhoods change…it’s a part of the evolution of any city. Hell, I remember when this place was all trees.

  25. yes, making all the fuss over some crazy ass… person. You are white, you automatically win..

  26. Even if it’s just one loose cannon, it’s causing a dialogue…..the effects of that dialogue, though? That we’ll be dealing with for a while, now.

  27. i wish more white people mixed in with blacks earlier.. and not just when it was most convenient. That way you guys would have enjoyed truly cheap rents..manhattan always sucked.. no sidewalks for kids to play and no trees. what took yall so long to come back?

  28. People of low i.q of all races will react with comments like “just move on” and “go back to west bumba fuck”.

  29. solution is code word for “how do we stop blacks from complaining about something”….just let people vent. or get mad..who cares.

  30. capitalism.. they found a way to sell waves to the water. Tiny crappy apartments with big price tags is the new price tag to get to live in the middle of “all this culture” lmao..

  31. Everyone should read Ta-Henisi Coates’ recent article on reparations. That said, gentrification is first and foremost an economic issue – there are non-white gentrifiers and longtime white residents who certainly are not gentrifiers. I’ll never forget the African-American hipster one night a few years back in Sycamore who told me that he felt that Williamsburg was more diverse than Ditmas Park – and then I realized that when he said “diverse” he meant “full of hipsters like himself.”

  32. huge? LMAO.. how huge? lmao.. like the size of the sun? LMAO!!.. Listen you guys are keyboard activist.. some graffiti makes you uncomfortable and you vent.. in real life… are tranquil. is that assumption even bigger than the last? lol.. how big>

  33. A post from your reddit thread.

    “man, i almost want that to happen to me. i get looks all the time, like i’m not from brooklyn… im just dying to tell them this was a white jewish neighborhood way longer than a black one (and all they did is shit all over it)”

    It’s people like this i am worried about…..if he says that to the wrong person things will go bad quickly.

  34. The worst part is that you probably don’t even realize how insulting and disrespectful you are being to millions of real victims of actual “systematic ethnic cleansing”.

  35. .I was being poetic…………whats funny is how you can only see one thing instead of the raw truth……. but dont ever say what happened with white flight was the same as what is happening now in NYC with the systematic , deliberate attack on the poor.

  36. I feel like i am talking with fox news pundits.. all you can see is my disrespect for “true ethnic cleansing”? lmao.. but you cant see whats happening to people most vulnerable…and you dont want to see it.. because their misfortune is your opportunity…you step on their necks and crack their skulls on your own journey to finding the american dream.

  37. 1) There is nothing wrong with renaming a neighborhood.
    2) There SHOULD be certain requirements to getting an apartment – otherwise there’s a good chance you’d be living next door to all sorts of lowlifes. Face it, even degenerates (most likely) want to live in a nice, safe, clean environment. As a matter of fact, a lot of people relying on TAX PAYER DOLLARS seem to feel entitled to a better standard of living – one they have done NOTHING to contribute towards.
    3) At the same time, you put them together is a place like, say, Brownsville – which is filled with a square mile of nothing but projects – you would think the residents would work together to CREATE that “nice, safe, clean environment” instead of turning it into the dump that it is. (full disclosure: I have never been there – only seen it on the news. Usually when someone gets shot)
    4) Tell me why one should NOT “aggressively go after tenants for chronic late payments”? I
    think letting rent slide is a bad business practice and feel anybody with an ounce of business sense will agree with me.
    5) “Strict loans” are bank controlled. After the whole ‘mortgage debacle’ (and government
    bailout) of banks approving loans to people who COULDN’T AFFORD THEM – I’m finding it hard to believe this is a bad thing.
    6) Harassing old ladies to give up their rent controlled apartment. Hmm, I don’t agree with harassing old people but I ALSO do not believe in rent control. NO ONE should be allowed to pay $200/month in RENT (especially in this day and age) just because the family has been there for 40+ years. Most likely these are the same people who own vacation homes in FL from all the money they’re saving from “not paying rent”.
    7) Just because a neighborhood is changing FOR THE BETTER, don’t bitch about it and pull out the race card. People of ALL COLOR can afford (or not afford) to live in certain places.
    8) In the general scheme of things, I personally don’t think Ditmas Park is all that gentrified…YET. Have things been moving towards gentrification in the past 10 years? Yes. But only when it turns into a pseudo Park Slope with a hint of Gowanus hipster edginess – will I consider it fully gentrified.
    I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings!!!

  38. you really are at the other dumb end of the spectrum, aren’t you?

    if you get pushed out of flatbush, nobody is going to be glad because of your color. they’re going to be glad because you were a dick with one generalization you kept hanging onto, but never with anything to back it up.

    you’re not approaching this in any more of a useful way than the “nothing can be done” people. it’s your prerogative to say the kind of stuff you do, but i hope you’re prepared for the effects of all that counterproductive unfocused vitriol you got going on. (hint: it’s not gonna help you keep your apartment.)

  39. Rent control is is one of the many things that has saved New York. We need a return to strick rent controls as soon as possible. It one of the ways neighborhoods are build and don’t become overrun with overprivladged wealthy who don’t have investment in staying in the area and making it work. It’s the closest thing there is for people of little means.

  40. It’s the closest thing there is for people of little on no means to ownership.

  41. “you guys are keyboard activist” – person who’s commented on this thread way more than anyone else

  42. I own… but i feel bad for the people who dont….I dont mind any one moving into the neighborhood but what i wont tolerate is the the attitude of “it was white before so stop crying”.. nope, because what happened before is not the same as what is happening now to the poor. and its very hilarious that yous see my truth as VITROIL.. i speak with no hate..but you see my words as hot oil being splashed on peoples faces…….why? LOl

  43. I own… but i feel bad for the people who dont….I dont mind any one moving into the neighborhood but what i wont tolerate is the the attitude of “it was white before so stop crying”.. nope, because what happened before is not the same as what is happening now to the poor. and its very hilarious that yous see my truth as VITROIL.. i speak with no hate..but you see my words as hot oil being splashed on peoples faces…….why? LOl

  44. I own… but i feel bad for the people who dont….I dont mind any one moving into the neighborhood but what i wont tolerate is the the attitude of “it was white before so stop crying”.. nope, because what happened before is not the same as what is happening now to the poor. and its very hilarious that yous see my truth as VITROIL.. i speak with no hate..but you see my words as hot oil being splashed on peoples faces…….why? LOl!!

  45. White flight was nothing like what’s currently happening, you’re right. White flight entails the privilege of agency and mobility that’s not afforded to everyone. But the last thing you sound when you get hyperbolic about ethnic cleansing is “poetic.”

    Start there and branch out. Educate yourself. You’re an embarrassment.

  46. I was priced out of Carroll Gardens 13 years ago. I am white and was priced out by people that had more money and could afford the cost of real estate in that area. I lived there about 15 years and loved it because it was not a cool place to live but because of the cultures. I started looking in other parts of Brooklyn where I could possibly buy an apartment and this area turned out to be the place. Plus it felt a little suburban without feeling like the city. I was able to buy an apartment that at the time was gratefully very inexpensive. I have seen the area change for the better. I feel safer when I walk around. Less trash on the street. I only see a diverse mix of skin color and culture.If that is part of gentrification I am all for it. It sucks people are getting priced out. I did, but I did not blame anyone for this or write nasty signs on the subway. Instead I was proactive and chose a different path.

  47. I know what it means..keep focusing on my use of the phrase ethnic cleansing… …focus on that instead of focusing on the fact that what is happening now is a concerted effort to remove people of a certain class, race and income level from the neighborhood.. focus on me.. attack me..instead of attacking the true issue.. im this and that.. adhominem attack all day….but what happened in the neighborhood when it changed from white to black in the 60’s is completely different than what is happening today….and im right.

  48. I wish you were a McGruff the Crime Dog because I’d enjoy reading some regular pieces on your local crime fighting adventures. 🙂

  49. Can we discuss the bigger issue here? The handwriting on the sign is obscuring the sticker’s more important message. Are we getting free wi-fi and when?

  50. But when you phrase it like that, you rob our brothers and sisters of the little credibility we get. You clearly can’t see beyond your own nose. You’re not helping, you’re hindering.

  51. You never saw me attack anybody personally on here.. i just disagree or agree. Most of you are college educated.. you betray your professors when you resort to adhominem attacks because you dont like what i say or how i say it LMAO.. You all should know better… but of course there are no teachers around right now to impress so you regress on purpose.. if only for the moment to lash out at somebody who doesn’t share your point of view.

  52. This  was sent to me and I said I am not touching this one. However, since very few black people are going to give their perspective, I thought it was best I give mine. Some blacks and Latinos have been destructive to the neighborhood. Some Russians ie, white people have been destructive to the neighborhood. Truth be told, all the newbies came into a neighborhood that was and will always be great even after they all leave. I have been a resident of Ditmas Park Flatbush for 38 years, I have seen all the changes. I love the new restaurants. I love all the new things going on. Last week, a great article was posted on Salon about the violence of gentrification. Most white people were offended by a Latino man’s perspective. Here it is  gentrifrication is violent. It is colonialism, its conquering, it’s institutionalized racism, it’s greed. It’s also uses white young adults as cleaners. If the man who stated,he flips apartments, who doesn’t care who he sells to  was  true of all true landlords in Ditmas Park, landlords  wouldn’t be sued. People of color who qualify are getting passed over. I should not feel when I go into coffe shops that I am being stared at because I as black person dared to walk into a predominately white establishment. Slap whites only on the door and make it easier. The Cortelyou road Flatbush Frolic should not feel segregated. I am grateful for Bar Chord, some days at the Sycamore you get from some of the bartenders no blacks allowed.  Then I always try to remember most of the newbies are not New Yorkers. They don’t understand we are a well made salad in Brooklyn.  Most do not come from diverse towns or neighborhoods. White people did not start the creative movement in Brooklyn. It started in the 90s with Fort Green. Gentrification doesn’t only go after black and Latino neighborhood, it goes after immigrant neighborhoods like park slope and Carroll gardens. It’s the  prentiousness of a Ditmas Park Manifesto. It’s me now knowing where the drug dealers are, it’s the people stealing from Met and other store owners that are newbies addicts. It’s the dog poop all over the hood that wasn’t there until the influx of newby dog owners. It’s the helicopters that never flew around like this in the hood like they do now. We were the most diverse neighborhood all of the United States, we got along. Maybe the unrecognized subconscious racism that goes on with some of the newbies is finally getting a response (though I don’t agree with it).  I heard a young white man claim that the Q train was not getting fixed until the influx of white people. Attitudes like that get responses like the graffiti. He was wrong in so many ways.  I should never have people slam the door in my face in my building but guess what I do. So Newbies, really take a deep look at your actions and see how people are getting fed up and some are responding poorly.

  53. Moonandstar, I think there probably is some truth to some of the things you are saying, but try to keep in mind we are all on the same side and i think a lot of this is miscommunication and misunderstanding. Let me tell you my story. Personally I am the president on the co-op board of a local building. We have a very diverse set of people living in our building including shareholders and renters. Many of the renters are paying 300-500 dollars a month. I like all of these people and do not want them to leave but we cannot afford to meet our monthly expenses as a building with this amount of money coming in. I would love to have new residents come in who can actually pay the amount we need to have come in to make ends meet every month. I do not get this money, this money goes to fixing the pipes, a new roof, painting the hallways, paying for water, paying our taxes. Even a little bit more would help. I am confused by the perspective that I somehow have the ability to “force” them out. I do not want to do this because they are my neighbors and I like them and this is their home, but more importantly I do not have any ability to do this. None of this has anything at all to do with race. The board is diverse, the tenants are diverse. Anyway, the whole issue is much more complicated than this whole conversation is trying to make it seem. We all need to work together to try to understand it and insulting broad swaths of neighbors at the deepest level isn’t helping. I know I am probably not going to be able to convince anyone of anything, but I just wanted to get this voice out there.

  54. Who is throwing broad insults? I just dont like when people say “Well it was white 80 years ago why are they complaining, change happens”.. when the reason why things changed in the 60’s was because the banks finally allowed blacks to obtain mortgages and thats when the blacks moved in and suddenly the whites moved out..but today……its about pushing people out to make room for more affluent people.. No it is not about races….. but race always comes up….because the people i see getting kicked out by the marshal are black….and the ones getting the newly renovated apartments -where the old tenant couldn’t even get the walls painted- are white. Now dont get me wrong, just because the new people happen to be white does not mean they dont deserve a place to live and god bless them for being able to afford these ridiculous prices but when i see people saying crap like “well if you dont want to be priced out get an education”….I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING. because with this gentrification problem comes angry people…..on all sides and people say things that i can not forgive…..

    when did you becomes the president? when the company brought the building a few years ago? or did you always live there? because i am sure those people who pay 300 to 400 been there for over 20 years… you are suddenly the president and know all about how much rent they pay..and pretend to care about them………HA.. And dont tell me you dont know how you can force people out… You know exactly how, fortunately for these people they pay their rent on time every month so you people cant try any crap. I will never feel sorry for billion dollar corporations or shareholders.. vs people who are struggling to hold on to cheap gems in an ever expensive city..

  55. Brownsville while no means safe have people who care and are trying their best. There are more than projects there, omgosh, there are co-ops, subsidized housing and houses worth over 200K don’t speak on subject you no nothing about. Ignorance is not bliss. Generalizations are not cool.

  56. Gentrification is an economic issue but economic injustice in this country has always been fundamentally intertwined with racial injustice. The two can only theoretically be separated but in practice work in tandem.

    What’s more, racism has always operated through economics – Africans were literally property; the forcible theft of native land; the economic motivations behind many lynchings; the internment of Japanese citizens which resulted in their property being seized; redlining; and so forth.

    Moreover, most groups defined as non-white or people of color do worse ***on every measure of socioeconomic status*** (generally considered to be a composite measure of salary range + education level + occupational prestige and sometimes additionally parents’ education level and/or level of occupational prestige). This is particularly true for African-Americans, indigenous people, and Latinos and is less true of some (but not all) Asian groups.

    Generally speaking, this disparity gets explained in 1 of 2 ways: lack of personal responsibility which, writ large, becomes some sort self-sustaining of ‘culture of poverty.’ In sum: the ‘dysfunctional culture’ of ‘those people’ is perpetuated over generations and accounts for social and economic disparities. This has been a go-to explanation since at least the 1960s with the Moynihan report and continues to surface today. It’s a favorite of Paul Ryan’s as well as our own “Ten Years in Ditmas.” The other explanation is structural racism – something that is simultaneously both a social and economic process. And if you accept this explanation, you have to accept that gentrification systematically works to disadvantage not only lower income people but particularly low income racial minorities and as well, that even well intentioned, otherwise progressive middle class people, particularly whites, play a role in this process.

  57. It should be understood that the gentrification that has taken place over the past 10 years is different then how neighborhoods changed in the past. What we have seen in Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, Prospect Lefferts is engineered gentrification which was a stated policy of the Bloomberg administration. He did not announce it as policy, but it is known by many Brooklyn insiders that he had a department dedicated to this purpose. In the past, areas like Fort Greene, Park Slope, Williamsburg, were settled into by artists and other marginal groups after a long economic downturn in those areas. The transformations took 20 years or more.

    What I saw in Crown Heights took 5 years. It was done without artists or other outsider types. It was done by having companies campaigning hard in areas around the Mid-western US to bring young white professionals into the NY market promising adventures and such. As you may know, the tech industry in NYC has grown exponentially. The same has happened to Bushwick and East Flatbush and East New York are next.

    I was born in Brooklyn.I moved back here 30 years ago. I lived in Ditmas Park for 6 years (and loved it) and then got priced out because my landlord wanted his house for his own family, who also could not afford the Brooklyn market. I am now in predominately west indian East Flatbush, which the realtors are trying to refashion into Ditmas Park East. To be honest, I am not thrilled with the area, but my apartment may be the nicest I have had since living on my own in this city. I am pushing 60 and doubt that we as a family can sustain another move in Brooklyn. Besides the economy being shit for us, I do not want to keep moving every 5 years because of the unrepentant greed. I would like to be left alone to do my work. I do not have ostentatious wants or needs. My wife and I just want to go about our business rather than writing a check for the majority of our earnings to a landlord whose only interest is self aggrandizement through consumerism. It is not sustainable and will hurt all of us in the end. People of all races are feeling displaced. If you really would like it to stop, you need to stand behind having your voices heard. Maybe this whole comment feed can be sent to the mayors office. He says affordable housing is on top of his list. Can he really stop the tide?

  58. “It’s a favorite of Paul Ryan’s as well as our own “Ten Years in Ditmas.”

    You mean Ten Years on Cortelyou who uses LOTS of CAPS, right? I just don’t want to be confused with Paul Ryan…

  59. I agree with your history. Every letter of it. I don’t know what to do about the forcible theft of native land, Japanese internment or lynchings, so I will offer no solutions there. However, if what you want to do is fight gentrification and more generally improve the lots of poor people (black and white) in this country, then understand the economics of the marketplace and don’t appeal to old, racial hatreds in explanations when simple, well-understood economic processes suffice.

    An important part of achieving the future we all want is letting go of the past.

  60. No I have no idea how anyone would or want to go about forcing people out. I have heard about people being forced out in threads like this but I haven’t actually heard of any specific people being forced out of anywhere. And yes they have been here for 30 years or longer. I have been here for 20 years. I haven’t been the president for that long, but I need to deal with these issues now. These people are my friends. And no, they don’t pay their rent on time, that is why we are in such a difficult position. I am not sure you read my post. We cant afford to paint the walls or fix the roof because of what people are paying. What is your solution?

  61. That, and we need more affordable housing. Contrary to popular belief, it has little to do with landmarking – there are plenty of areas to build which have little or no preservation value. Much of Coney Island Avenue – hardly glamorous, to be sure – could be zoned for taller apartment buildings. That shell of a building where Domino’s used to be could be completed. The building next to Lea is set to be demolished – it too could be turned into affordable housing. What is needed is the political will to do it, and also some incentives for developers to get moving on it.

  62. You’re right. If we were all the same color, poor folks would TELL the rich where they’re going to live, and the rich would TAKE IT and LIKE IT!! It’s amazing to think that the only reason the filthy rich people of this city don’t bend over and beg me to spank them right now is because my skin’s a little darker than theirs.

  63. i dont understand your question………….are walls people? go ahead and kick those people out so you can paint your walls.

    You must live in a bubble to have never heard of landlords forcing people out…… I wont bring up any specifics but whole buildings dont turn white by themselves. now pretend that doesnt happen.

    You are kind of lucky….I know everybody in flatbush…WHOLE BUILDINGS .. just transform to what seemed like overnight…..and those people didnt move by choice. they were taken to court… and forced out. I dont even want to get into the little dirty tricks they do…it would be too much writing. OUR STRUGGLE IS REAL!

  64. Sorry I don’t believe you. I think it is possible in one or two buildings, but in general I do not think it is some grand racial conspiracy. I think most buildings are very similar to my own and we are all just trying to get by regardless of race. I think you have a natural inclination to believe that people are inherently evil and that is the issue. I do believe that there is natural turnover and that in general white people make more money than black people so when rents go up it is more likely that white people move in. I understand that as the neighborhood changes people lament those changes because people inherently dislike change. Also lots of people moved here because they like the diversity and they are worried that it will become less diverse. I agree with all of these things.

  65. It is really not a racial thing……but more of a grand class conspiracy thing. People of a certain class(who happen to be white) want to live in brooklyn in mass. Property owners and developers take notice. The rent shoots up and they crank up and turn on the lawer machine and start getting old , rent controlled , chronic late paying tenants out. I have seen whole buildings where every one was poor to middle class and black change to white and professional.. from all the way up flatbush by 7th ave down to Winthrop st… My mother was forced out of her apartment and she didn’t even owe any back rent……. how they got her out is by sending the rent slip late…on purpose…..causing her to always be late.. my mother has a bad knee so its hard for her to move around.. so when she pays 1 or 2 days late. they add it up and kicked her out.. they never use to do that before whites all wanted to move into Brooklyn..but there is a lot of money at stake and walls to paint lol.. they are murderous with it.. You dont have to believe me…. ignorance is bliss after all..but our struggle is real… sometimes I try to pretend this situation is not real and i try to wish it away my self.

  66. RENT CONTROL is the most ridiculous concept EVER.
    This is the reason why no new “rent controlled leases” are issued now. If I was a landlord with rent controlled tenants, I would hire private investigators to make sure ACTUAL “direct family members” are living in that space. Otherwise it’s called a SCAM and I would be the one getting ripped off. (above and beyond getting ripped off because I’m only getting $200/month in rent)
    If rent control is the “closest thing there is for people of little means” (and I’m going to assume you’re talking about actual home ownership) all it really means is YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE IN NEW YORK.
    I’m not saying that to be harsh – it’s the reality of the situation.

  67. Haha – yes! Sorry to confuse the two of you. From what I’ve read of your commentary, the two of you do not see eye-to-eye on this issue.

  68. Are you kidding with this rant?
    Are you claiming there are MORE drug dealers in the neighborhood, MORE people stealing form Met/other stores, MORE dog poop “all over the hood” and MORE helicopter flyovers – NOW?
    I’ve been in the neighborhood for 10 years (or some might say “only” 10 years) and I have SEEN (with my own two eyes!) how much BETTER things have gotten.
    Personally I have noticed: 1) there are no more obvious drug dealers hanging out on my corner at all hours of the night. 2) Met Foods have gotten CONSIDERABLY NICER (in terms of cleanliness, food quality/items, hours). 3) The amenities available in the neighborhood have increased (coffee shops, restaurants, cute stores etc).
    As far as dog poop and helicoptors – *shrug* nothing more that what it was before. Although dog owners should know better.

  69. Gentrification in Ditmas Park and Brooklyn overall is WHITE PRIVILEGE in real life action, people.

  70. Sooooo……you’re applying the term “no means safe” to what is known as the MURDER CAPITAL of New York?
    You and I have VERY different ideas on the word “safe”. Brownsville has been the scene of the _MOST MURDERS/SHOOTINGS PER CAPITA IN THE CITY!_ (I wish html coding worked on this thing because I would be underlining this. And bolding. And italicizing.)
    True, generalization aren’t cool – but there is no denying Brownsville is a dump. With lots and lots and LOTS of projects.

  71. What do you suggest a co-op do when there are needed repairs – like the roof repair mentioned by “guest” – as well as increased water and gas bills, taxes, etc. – and not enough money to pay for these things? Something’s gotta give. I live in a co-op and my maintenance has nearly doubled in the time I’ve been there. Unfortunate, but necessary. And the one tenant I’ve known to get evicted was white.

  72. Amen, and it’s got nuttin to do with money and everything to do with skin color. A lot of the gentrifiers are poor whites who are lured here simply cuz they’re white, often buying property at a small fraction of what black buyers are offering.

  73. Some of the buildings you are calling projects are actually co-ops. Your generalizations are wrong.

  74. This is not a rant. Did you read what I said? I started off with I love the things going on so stop where you are heading. 38 years, I have seen it all. I mourned in the 90s when a war went down on Cortelyou Road. I mourned when we lost Bill’s. I mourned when they put a Dominoes and Churches on Cortelyou road. I also in 5 years have learned the drug spots and dealers because of the lack of discretion of newbies. Did I say there were never drug dealers? I said I found out who they were. Dog poop yes, everywhere I step there is dog poop. Helicopters practically every morning. I am for the changes but I am not going say it has been nothing but sunshine and roses when it has not. I am not going to say all the new white people to the hood are nice and want to be friends with the oldies, I am not. I see you did not address the treatment I get by newbies or their attitudes. Because there is a racial divide and sadly both races are participating in it.

  75. No we are not going to kick them out because A) You cant just kick people out in NYC. There are tons of laws protecting them if they are paying their rent and B) These are good people and this is their home. I am sorry about your mom, thank you for the specific story. Stories like that are what makes conversations like this 1000% more valuable.

  76. Dont feel sorry about my moms..she is only one of the hundreds of thousands it happened to since Brooklyn became trendy.

  77. You speak full of hate and lack understanding of why prices increase in the area. Your idealistic thoughts are unrealistic and lack understanding of simple economics.

    Perhaps you open your doors to help poverty stricken new yorkers to keep a roof over their head.

    Reading your thread riddled with bigotry is deeply offensive…

  78. You were being priced out by a landlord who wanted the space for his own family who were also getting priced out……..?

    News flash, you didn’t get priced out. They needed their space back…

  79. Thank you Jessie. Although I think you might want to save that far reaching vision and understanding for better things. You are wasting you talents here.

  80. Nope, a lot of rental agents see that their client is white and only show them the more expensive properties.

  81. Amen, Ditmas Progressive. When was the last time the rent stabilization ceiling was raised? $2,000 or more in rent is categorized as a “luxury” apartment. Well, I’ve seen a bunch of these so-called luxury apartments around here, and they are anything but. Not unless the meaning of the word “luxury” has changed to “mice and roaches are only a problem three times a year, the super is absentee, and the building is never cleaned.” But that’s becoming the *low* end of rent around here with no relief in sight.

  82. Maybe 10% of New Yorkers can actually afford to live in New York. I’d like to see those 10% try and take care of themselves if the rest of us left.

  83. Bigotry? from where? what have i said anything remotely racist? Just because you dont like what i have to say does not make me anti white.. im off this……..

  84. I know you’re trying to defend the position you’ve taken but what I’m saying is not my “personal opinion”.
    Brownsville has the highest murder/shooting per capita in the city – FACT.
    The median household income is below poverty level – FACT.
    The neighborhood has the highest concentration of housing projects (per New York City Housing Authority) – FACT.
    Most people who live there haven’t graduated HIGH SCHOOL – which, in my book, is insane! (only about 30% have)
    As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts”. Me saying Brownsville is a dump can be taken as an opinion – but it’s CERTAINLY based on FACTS.

  85. if that’s what you’re TRYING to tell anyone, you’re doing a bad job at it. obviously i agree there’s a problem here with people being priced out or harassed by landlords or what have you, but you are very clearly bigoted and if you don’t see that then you’re also delusional. and the LOL/LMAO thing is not cute and not fooling anybody.

    don’t think i’m on your side. i’m not.

  86. Oh okay…what ever you say..but Dont focus on me so much.. i wont go away regardless.. ..i am not focusing on you.. focus on the issue ..stop adding on to what you think of me and get back to the point..

  87. It is actually very different….. What happend in the past was that in the 60’s (a not too distant past sad to say) the government finally got rid of its red lined housing practices against blacks and allowed them to get loans like anybody else..The result? more blacks moved in to areas that were predominantly white. White flight happened soon after that. Whites were not priced out, white were not aggressively forced out to make room for higher paying blacks, rent control was not under attack, rent control units were not dwindling, rents were not shooting up to record highs, NYC was not the most expensive city to live, the worlds super rich did not want to live in Brooklyn -causing the prices to shoot up even more- and landlord , and home owners had no incentive to get people OUT!..
    you can not compare black the negro progress of the 60’s to the gentrification problem that is happening now. What is happening now is not merely an “Ever changing city”- though i could see the benefits of wanting it to change over night.. I remember how things use to be.. in regards to crime-But things improved before gentrification..crime has been going down in this city for the last 20 years.. before the gentrification trend.

  88. as long as you understand your comprehension of this subject is extremely limited and our position contradicts itself. Just trying to help….

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