|The Q counted 140 people at one point|
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.