The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Not In My Black Yard


The Q counted 140 people at one point
The Q's hat's off to MTOPP's Alicia Boyd for really knowing how to rile up a crowd. She was on fire tonight at a community forum on capital D Displacement. She actually managed to upstage everyone on the bill, heavy hitters like Charles Barron and neighborhood activists like Tom Angotti and recently elected district leader Geoffry Davis and a nabe activist named Rob Roberinson on the original invitation email, but that's not right. Geoffrey's name was misspelled too. And she neglected in the email or on the flyer to mention the name of the church at 267 Fenimore, only the address. Small things, little insensitivities, started to add up in my mind. And that's what got me thinking...

It's not that Alicia isn't right on a number of points. She is, and she articulates them passionately. She does sometimes put words in people's mouths and insists on pounding home certain incorrect facts, but almost anyone trying to make a point does that. (Just look at politicians - that's how they get and stay elected.) Her analysis of the how and why of the white takeover of Brooklyn is persuasive. MTOPP's alternative community plan for low-rise ma & pa commercial businesses along a beautifully re-landscaped Empire Blvd sounds positively idyllic. A long single story row of ethnic cafes. That was one phrase I particularly liked.

Then I started to put it all together.

It's not just that she's sitting on a gold mine in her nearly two million dollar town home complaining about potential high rises in her (actual) back yard. It's not that the "alternative" community plan seems highly supportive of her own quality of life and those who own. It's not that she quite often sounds like she's using the poor (I'm sorry, did I misspeak? using the plight of the poor) in the neighborhood to suggest that building LESS apartments is somehow going to save their rentals (which I'm sorry but it ain't). It's not that one detects a hint of guilt that she, like many of us, have personally profited off the racism that undervalued the neighborhood for years and is finally blossoming into outsized equity gains.

It's that she seems to believe that EVERYone is in on it. She thinks the borough president is a liar and cheat. The developers are all greedy and racist. The Community Board is a bunch of "lawyers and architects" and other professionals (no, say it isn't so!) and therefore not to be trusted, because they were appointed by the liars in the first place (there are tons of clergy on the board by the way, who might bristle at the idea they're in bed with Adams and Developers). City Planners are a bunch of sycophantic nitwits following marching orders. The Mayor is a fraud and his plan for affordable housing is a lie whipped up to please developers. Mathieu Eugene, Laurie Cumbo and every elected official who WASN'T there gets verbally pistol whipped. And she saves special relish for her new sworn enemy Pearl Miles, district manager at CB9. Clearly, as a City employee who DOESN'T EVEN LIVE IN THE DISTRICT!!! she deserves a special place in her Hall of Shame for having the audacity to suggest that Empire Boulevard get some apartment buildings to help the City solve its housing shortage. Based on (guess what?) members of the community saying they wanted more apartment buildings and affordable apartments in particular (yeah I was there, she wasn't). Basically it appears that everyone who has been working on issues in the neighborhood heretofore was and is in the pockets of the big greedy developers. (I know I am. How about you? I signed my pact with them in blood, and I've been lavished with gifts and vacations ever since. David Kramer helped get my kid into nursery school!)

I'm beginning to think that Alicia doesn't like anybody who isn't poor and oppressed. And I'm beginning to wonder if she even likes them. Because there's absolutely no love in her message. There's no compassion. There's not even a betrayal of concern that she might be damaging the reputations of people who actually care about the neighborhood and want to make a difference. People, mind you, who have been working on these issues a hell of a lot longer than she has.

Not everyone was wowed by her performance, by the way. A few snarked privately that the pep rally was woefully short on facts about how limiting housing supply in the face of rampant abuses by landlords was going to help those very people being displaced. She was best, and I'd love to see more of it, when she tries to educate and organize those who need to know their rights and stand up loud and strong for them. Including those of us with knowledge and contacts who have sat by and observed for way to long. Kudos to that.

If you go to an Alicia Boyd sponsored event, be warned. You will hear a lot of talk and it might even sound or even BE convincing. That is, she does manage to be right on a number of points. But regardless of where you stand on any of these issues, think about whether this a discussion or whether you, as someone with a brain and a question, are being asked to leave both at the door and surrender to the preacher. I saw a lot of people nodding their heads as if hearing the Gospel. But as I left I realized that there was no room in that hall tonight for anything but The Truth. Everyone's a liar.  Except her.

Oh, and thanks to Pastor Maxine Nixon and the United Methodist Church for their donation of community space. See that's not so hard.

11 comments:

disco princess said...

slappz, people were right to rant and rave over Barclays. People were displaced. We're also [i]still[/i] waiting for the housing that was promised. Forest City Ratner actually recently agreed to expedite construction. #truth

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Thanks DP. Slappz has nothing new or interesting to add to the conversation, so I usually just delete his comments. Banning him seems extreme, but I'll leave it up if it's actually useful. I'll keep an eye on Parkside Guy too for his rants, but generally he's just representing the angry white American male contingent. They're people too, after all.

Curious27 said...

I did not go to the event, precisely because what Q wrote about was what I expected. I mean, I do appreciate her passion, but when I attended the march a few weeks ago, I got the feeling that the facts were something she really didn't have time for, and I don't have time for rabble-rousin' without a clear solution.

theforest1 said...

I suspected from when you first started writing about MTOPP that her main concern is the construction noise and towers. Her desperation of wanting us to believe it is for the poor is just a tactic to keep her townhouse view nice and quite.
And who's to say they would build towers and not reasonable sized buildings?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

One of the things I've learned in life is that people's motivations are complex. It's rarely just one thing. This is not meant as an attack on Alicia Boyd. She has chosen to become the public face of a movement, and as such, she's become a public personality, and needs to "take" criticism, just as I've had to take by publishing my opinions on the internets. When I say she dissembles or exaggerates, I'm questioning the issues. She may be a lovely person privately. Her public performance, however, is scorch and burn, take no prisoners. I don't personally approve of her personal attacks on well-meaning people, though she clearly knows how to rouse the sleeping giant.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

DP: I'm with you. Slappz wants us to believe that when you protest something that happens anyway, you accomplish nothing. If you bring injustice to light, just as if you submit a minority opinion or vote for the losing candidate, I don't believe your efforts are wasted. Far from it - that's the greatest asset of a democracy. The minority opinion, and the voice of the powerless. And never forget that today's loss can lead to tomorrow's victory with stamina.

Michael Racioppo said...

Where is King Eugene?

diak said...

Michael R. — While I'm no fan of our Councilman, I think for once Mr. Eugene made a wise decision, politically at least. No city official wants to be seen in public with the—how can I put this diplomatically?— "outspoken"? "controversial"? oh hell— "race-baiting, loudmouth, nutjob" — Charles Barron...

Michael Racioppo said...

@diak I agree with you 100%. I think my comment "Where is King Eugene?" is more a rhetorical questions. He is nowhere on anything, ever.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

In fairness, Mike, from Lefferts it's a long drive home to Canarsie.

Michael Racioppo said...

Tim, that's such a good point you may be able to get a proclamation from him.