The first big racial makeover of Flatbush happened when white "chose" to move out. Granted, there were negative incentives - the infamous block-busters warned folks of impending doom if they didn't run for the suburbs. We've since learned that developers on Long Island and New Jersey and the Island of Staten helped fuel the exodus, implicitly and explicitly supporting the block-buster phenomenon. The dangled choice looked pretty good, given the darkening on the horizon.
Black folks, by and large, CHOSE Flatbush as a home. Caribbean Americans too. Not that their choices weren't restricted by the prevailing anti-black prejudice. For instance, Bensonhurst and Windsor Terrace remained nearly all-white, and are still remarkably non-black. And of course, the ever-present price-per-square-foot analysis, and whether or not people from similar islands and nations resided here.
White folks now are CHOOSING to live in Flatbush (Lefferts, Caledonia, Caton, Ditmas, PPS) for its location and its price per square foot. Some of the movement was speculative; neighborhoods become more "desirable" with upward mobility, and the "bet" payed off for buyers. But some chose to live here, either reflecting their ease in the neighborhood, and/or of course, the ever-present price-per-square-foot.
Current residents of Flatbush are being FORCED to leave in droves. They don't want to go. You hear it in the stories and you see it in the numbers. Not all are people of color. Far from it. Current tenants, often pawns in the game, are flummoxed by landlords lack of interest in keeping them. Who, me? For every one lucky longtime homeowner who "cashed out" after years of being the local gentry, there are dozens more priced out or "eased" out by landlord practices and market forces. It's easy to focus ire on developers; their projects are so much more visible than person to person demoralization and dehumanization that characterizes so much apartment busting.
It's not the same. It's simply not the same. Some recent commenters have tried to suggest that:
a) race is not an issue
b) class is not an issue
c) to discuss race and class exacerbates the issues of race and class
d) that this is merely a "free market" doing its thing
e) that it's no different than previous racial changes and therefore benign
I'm actually stunned that anyone would want to explain the de-blackifying of NYC on the basis of pure, unadulterated cost analysis. Because how black a neighborhood IS, to a large extent, IS the COST ANALYSIS itself.
Fairly consistently for decades, the same house on one side of the Park has been twice what it is on the other side. You can't tell me that the reason is solely, as it was in the early 1990s, because of Little Things and Snooky's and Grand Canyon and then Two Boots. Equidistant from the Park and Garden and Library, with somewhat similar apartment and housing stock, and solid public transportation, the neighborhoods continue to serve as a case study. Fifth Ave was hardly a gourmand's paradise. Boutiques? Origami Classes? Those things didn't even exist to explain away the difference. There was even significant crime back then, before the whole CIty seemed to settle down post-crack turf-warfare.
I think most of you get it. I suspect most of you did your own cost analysis, whether you're black OR white or both or neither. I've come to believe that we are all both symptom and cause of the cost analysis. It's damning, and it's frightening. Not just in the ways that show our glaring differences. But in the ways they continue to mask our sameness.
I never would have thunk I'd have to defend what's as clear as the pink nose on my face. Not in Brooklyn. Not in NYC.
I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm not trying to bring down the system. I'm resigned to describing, and reacting as best I can. I wish I had my own brain paired with Em Topps balls. Iron balls. Seriously iron balls on that one.
The Q at Parkside
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.