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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Love and Race and Politics. Oh My!

A lot, a lot, a lot to unpack here.

We get that Alicia Boyd and her few remaining friends want Jesse Hamilton for State Senate. We also know she illegally uses her non-profit to raise money for these political shenanigans, even sometimes colluding with Hamilton. And we've seen Hamilton create fake groups to endorse him, like "Woke Brooklyn" and even "Michelle Obama Political Club" (that's the best you could do? like Michelle would consider supporting a dude who caucused with Republicans? you must think we're all dumbasses, Jesse!)

And yet both Ms. Boyd and Senator Hamilton make truly relevant points on a whole host of issues, which makes their dirty tactics so much more perplexing. Were she able to handle a bit of civil dialogue, were he able to simply stand behind his own actions without race-baiting, we might even get to the meat of the matter.

Suddenly, softly, in the dusk of a hot hot day, we get a new email from the MTOPP club (Militant Tantrumming Obstructionist Political Party) playing the Love Card. The email's header is "Love Over Hate" and so we read on to learn exactly how love might once again save the day against all that is dark and foreboding.

Psyche. It's not about love at all. It actually IS about hate. But read on. She actually claims that the hate group "the Progressive Left" has a problem with Hamilton because of his blackness. When in fact, no one had a problem with any of his able senatorness, til he denied his party power in Albany and allowed a couple of shysters from Jerktown run the show for awhile. And while he claims he received threats from the Liberal Left, the fact is he received the sort of threats that all politicians get, from a few unstable crazies. I mean theQ gets threats, and I'm not even making laws for everyone. Though that would be pretty cool, and the first one would be to declare the Age of the Wrap over. Stop making wraps. No one likes them, and they don't even save you calories. They're just shitty burritos.

When are people going to realize that crazy emails and twitter rants and facebook posts are not to be taken as more than trolling? The lone black state legislator from Vermont felt compelled to drop out of the race because of...a twitter flurry. That makes me so sad. But also, people, come on! Now's not the time to let an Asshole On Twitter get us down, is it? I can't hear you...IS IT??

Were Hamilton's opponent a white gentrifier, rather than a black guy from the neighborhood named Zellnor, maybe you could stomach his and her take on "identity politics." But it's just lame, and patronizing, and manages to talk down to both his supporters and detractors alike. Yes, voters can think for themselves Jesse. Even when they think it's time for a change. Which, it is. Vote Sept 13. Yes, that's a Thursday. Ridiculous.

Identity Politics - A Grab For Power!
What is Identity Politics? 

This is when a voter simply identifies with a political party instead of a candidate's record and actions.  Since Trump came into power, the Democratic machine has been focusing on this concept and swaying the minds of the people, basically making this a party war.

However, right under our noses, there is the push for real estate dealsgentrification, the selling off of our public land and now the endangerment of one of most precious green spaces in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, by the Democratic party.

The danger for Black folks is our loyalty to the Democratic party, coupled with a serious campaign against the Republican party. This has created to a system in place to dis-empower us!
New Hate Group - The Progressive Left
There is a new group of people, the white gentrifiers, who call themselves the progressive left, attempting to gain power in our community via identity politics.  They don't have voting power, that still remains in Black people's hands, but they have money and a plan.

This group has been on the scene in our community for the past several years and one of their main targets has been Senator Jesse Hamilton, because of his pro-black stance, and the litigation he has been pushing forward in the State Senate.

Their Actions.

The Progressive Left have been protesting Senator Jesse Hamilton every time he has pushed to protect Blacks against displacement or empowering us via education. Their message of hate has been felt and observed by many of the people in our community.

For example, last June, during the Bedford Union Armory hearing, where Senator Jesse Hamilton was denouncing this development, as simply a give away of public land, which would further the displacement of Black people in our community, the  Progressive Left demonstrated against Hamilton.

This year when Senator Jesse Hamilton was pushing for all year around Black History education he was subject to abusive behavior, being called the "N" wordetc..  Even the Editor of  Kings County Politics online magazine stated the Progressive Left were the senders of this hate.

"Editor's Note: As the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of KCP, I have  been made aware of the and seen a number of examples of Twitter/Facebook Campaigns as well as emails and letters directed both towards myself and State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) that either border on being hateful and racist or actually are hateful and racist.  To be clear some of these messages appear to be coming from the extreme right, but a majority of them are coming from the progressive left.

This group also did a negative campaign against Jesse via the Facebook platformwhen he was opposing the Nail Salon incident, where black women were beat.

It is clear what their political agenda is - to dis-empower and remove any elected official who is pushing pro-black legislation and stopping development that would displace us.

Their justification for all of the protesting is the fact that Jesse Hamilton was once a part of the now defunct IDC.  Simply disregarding all of the positive legislation and money Jesse Hamilton has obtained for the Black Community.  That is because they don't represent people of color they represent themselves. 
We Must Not Remain In the Dark!
Loyalty to the Democratic Party is our weakness.  We need to break away from Identify Politics and start choosing candidates for what they do for us and not what party they stem from!

We also have to beware of the power struggles coming into our community!  We should only support candidates that are actively engaged in empowering us, not by making grand speeches but by pushing legislation that does empower us!

For example, Senator Hamilton is now pushing a bill to make calling the cops on  Black folks a hate crime!  That is what we want all of elected officials to do.  We need to ensure that the ones who are supporting us,stay in power because rest assure that the ones that are being supported by the progressive left like Zellnor, will not!

We should not allow Zellnor's campaign representatives influence our decision, simply because they scream that Jesse Hamiton is a Republican!  That he supports Republicans.  That he is the reason that Trump is still in the White House.

We have to see behind the lies and untruths; the poltiical jargon.  We must see what is there right in front of us.  A Black Puppet, being pulled by people who hate!
Choosing Love Over Hate!
Do not ever under estimate the power of Love.  We know these new folks bring hate and racism to our community. However we stand strong with love in our hearts for our people, our way of life, ourculture and the people who choose to protect us and empower us.

We even send love to those who hate knowing that whatever you send out you will get back ten time fold.

We will not submit to hate mail, name calling, outright lies and deceit.  We will hold our heads up high, we will be apart of the light and we will prevail as we always have under racism and hate.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Jesse Hamilton Gets Dirty: His GOP Buddies Seem To Have Rubbed Off On Him

Until recently the Q could have told you with a straight face that Jesse Hamilton was a strong leader. Working hard since winning his seat, he's been at every march and forum you'd expect from a State Senator. He's put forth spicy legislation. He's been responsive to his constituents and an advocate for the needs and rights of the African-American community. But something happened when he dallied with the Dark Side - i.e. the Republican leadership and Independent Democratic Caucus. He chose expedience and power over process and loyalty to the Party that elected him. One could forgive his naivete (being essentially used by the IDC leadership) because he was offered a lot in return, and he slept at night by telling himself he'd done it for the good of his district. But...

He's not sleeping so good anymore. And we're not sleeping either, Jesse. We can see what you've become.

Not long ago, Jesse chose to send a nasty note from what appeared to be a new #BLM group called "Woke Brooklyn." In it the supposedly anonymous writer tried to tear NY Assemblymember Diana Richardson a new one, basically for not being black enough and putting the needs of others above her constituents - essentially a sell-out. (Tell that to Diana's face and see how THAT goes.) Ultimately Jesse was uncovered as the author (due to his own poor judgment), and the criticisms proved to be a desperate tactic from a beleaguered incumbent.

Interestingly - I got the note, and so did everyone who follows Queen Alicia through her MTOPP email list. So I says to myself, hmmm, seems Jesse and Alicia Boyd have some alliance going on here. And since Alicia is nothing if not brazenly tactical, I suspect there's something in it for AB besides warm fuzzies.

Then yesterday, I get a venomous attack note from MTOPP, targeting none other than the surging Zellnor Myrie, who's managed to rack up a stunning list of endorsements - as in just about everybody who's anybody in the Democratic Party. The nasty note from MTOPP (obviously in coordination with Hamilton, see above) knocks Myrie for comical things like "living in the Bronx" after college and "going to college" in the Bronx. (He grew up right here in Lefferts). The most potentially damaging thing that the grammatically challenged note said was that Myrie had been lying about passing the bar. Then this morning, in a rare show of almost-contrition, Boyd apologized and said (like the Fonz 40 years ago) that she was wr-r-r-r-r-r-r-ong and that her "research" had been mistaken. Fancy that. In years of error-filled missives, this is the first time she's ever uttered an apology. Perhaps a lawsuit was threatened?

If you're sick and tired of Jesse Hamilton, and you should be, vote for Zellnor. If you're sick and tired of Alicia Boyd, then I've got a very solid lead for you.

Alicia raises money through MTOPP, which she says is a non-profit, though it's actually using her other non-profit New Directions In Healing as its shell, accepting tax-deductible donations. And in case you were unaware, it's illegal to electioneer using your 501c3. The fact that she's electioneering is simple fact. The fact that she uses her non-profit to raise money for MTOPP? Not a question - she's been doing it for years now:

Don't forget to vote on Sept 13 for either Zellnor, or, below, feel free to stick with the Captain and Tennille. Or better yet, watch my favorite C&T video, with a winning message to boot for these troubled political times.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Schools and the Racism Discount

To read the rest of my award winning essay (the Q at Parkside Award for Dynamic Bloggering) be sure to go to Romper.

We wanted to live in the big city. We wanted to stay in the City. Then we wanted a house or big apartment in which to raise kids. Seemed straightforward. But that's when the struggle for our very souls began in earnest. The next big question facing us is existential: which school will we send our children to?

Who's we? We are the mostly white, mostly middle- and upper-middle class, schooled in liberal arts, culturally attuned to NPR and the New York Times, The Atlantic and the New Yorker, with a smattering of Mother Jones or The Nation issues in our lobby mail slots. We can go to parties and talk about racism and bemoan white supremacy in a gorgeously renovated living room with a Black Lives Matter placard in the window. We want to fix X and Y problems, and yet when it comes down to it, we support charter schools, “forest schooling,” and testing our children into the “gifted” school.

Living in Hipville, USA, is exhilarating and challenging in equal measures. Smart, funny, fascinating, and quirky people are everywhere. Jobs come in every style, size, and income. Culture and cultures surround us, making us feel like a citizens of the world. We're never more than a subway or bus ride from intellectual stimulation. We become hooked on the daily high of intense, tightly-packed living, full of surprises and adventure. We're often car-less, and take pride that we're leaving less of a carbon footprint than our rural and suburban brethren. We try hard to hide our smugness.

Having developed a pair-bond with a like-minded mate, we decide to mate and spawn offspring. But having a child upended our carefully calibrated sense of moral balance. This was the first time we looked up from our navels and took full stock of where and how we lived. Is the neighborhood safe? Is it clean? Is it too noisy or hectic? Are there other new families to bond with, playgrounds nearby, nurturing day-cares and good schools?

Most of our specific "settling down" decisions were informed by how much money we had or could poach from relatives. (In the minds of every city-dweller you'll find a collectively determined running list of best and worst neighborhoods to live in if you have kids. The personalized version of the list fluctuates with one's own financial condition, the vagaries of hipness, trends, age, and various insecurities and prejudices.) A round of musical chairs ensued, and we all sat down in our various neighborhoods, though some couldn't find an affordable "chair" and had to leave the game. A bonus: we were finally able to confirm our suspicions about who was actually wealthy; you can't hide a four-bedroom townhouse in the middle of a real estate boom.

The rich friends moved to their first-choice neighborhoods, and bragged of the good schools therein. The middle-classes began to re-assess previously undesirable neighborhoods or assail the pricier zip codes as "over" and dull. We started talking about real estate — obsessively. We started to become our parents even before we became parents ourselves. But we're NOT our parents, we'd say. We're more progressive, more open-minded, more attuned to the needs of others and the world's ills. So we convinced ourselves it's desirable to live around other races and cultures and economic classes. We liked to chastise others for living in nearly all-white enclaves.

The RD was greatest for the first to arrive — the Early Bird Special. My wife and I weren't even married when we purchased our house in the Lefferts Gardens area of Flatbush back in 2003. There were just two other white folks on the block, as far we could tell, a block with somewhere close to 1,500 residents living in 30 old town-houses and nearly 500 pre-war apartments. We were a serious minority, and we took great pride in our ability to look past race and poverty. The whites didn't show up in numbers ‘til years later. In all honesty, those early years were awesome, and the least soul-crushing. We were welcomed, and we felt alive.

The black and brown residents of our block were as varied as the world itself. A great number were African-Americans whose families arrived during the Great Migration, some sending their kids down South in the summers to be with relatives, some making plans to move back down permanently once retired. Like immigrants from within their own country. There were hundreds of Caribbeans from every nation, lots of Yemenis, some Puerto Ricans, Africans, mostly citizens but plenty were just residents. No one cared about such things. And not everyone was poor.

Still living four doors down is the two-home-owning gay, black judge, and the Vietnam War veteran who was the first black electrician in the union, the black female sanitation worker who won a multi-million dollar lawsuit, lots of nurses, salespeople, social workers, business owners. There were also lots of Section 8 families, folks with little or no income but who possessed the prized housing vouchers. (Back 15 years ago, landlords would still accept them readily, as the vouchers were a steady and certain source of rental income.)

Some of the single-family homes had become boarding houses. Our three-floor 20-foot-wide row house had eight separate one-room apartments when we bought it — "SROs" in the lingo. It was mostly immigrant men living there, looking only for a place to lay their heads at night while working three, maybe four jobs.

We didn't think about the schools. We thought about how lucky we were to live near the subway, the Park, the Botanic Garden, the Museum. The other side of the park cost three times as much. The racism discount was steep then; the price differential is closer to double now, as more and more white folks have moved east. It's incredible how one can quantify people's discomfort with minorities, but there it is, right on the Zillow listings.

The schools? Education was being delivered, for sure. But our zoned school and the others nearby were nearly all black and all poor. Even the wealthier black and mixed-race couples we'd met sent their kids out of the neighborhood, many to private or parochial schools. Solid, progressive liberal arts grads would say, with straight faces, that their conscience told them to go local, but they didn't want their own kids to be guinea pigs for a school's diversification. It should be noted that most of these parents have still never set foot in any of these schools, let alone taken the time to meet the principal or take a tour. Many used test scores to decide whether a school met the acceptable threshold, even though, as Leonie Haimsen wrote in the New York Times, they are vulnerable to cheating and tend to respond directly to injections of money. On top of which, “the National Academy of Sciences has not once but twice spoken out against imposing this sort of high stakes accountability scheme on our schools.”

A few white parents went as far as to create a charter school to address the lack of good options in the area. Initially, a fair number of white families proudly attended the newly minted Charter School, which had been gracelessly co-located into a beautiful old school building housing longtime neighborhood school PSXY, which was suffering a steep drop-off in attendance. Which, by the way, was a direct result of the accelerating gentrification in the neighborhood that was bringing more school-aged families - plenty to fill the seats at the two under-enrolled zoned schools. But not one (quite literally, not one) of the newcomers felt comfortable sending their kids to the local-zoned schools. The excuses were always a variation on the guinea-pig defense.

I tried to convince playground friends to give it a shot — together if necessary — to just go to the zoned school. A few meetings were held, but one by one our preschool friends chose other options. A couple Montessories here, a couple fancy private schools there, a few homeschoolers and lots of out-of-neighborhood schoolers. The well-regarded local private pre-school actively encouraged parents to go out of zone, even out of district. That well-regarded school leader coached parents on how to "work the system" legally, and how to find schools that were still accepting out-of-zone students to fill their seats. The unstated irony? Her own children were bi-racial.

As in any massive clandestine effort, code words were used to hide the issue facing parents. The Racism Discount had provided for cheaper housing. But it didn't mean the local public schools would also gradually add new wealthier residents at the rate of home equity increase, and the longtime local proud experienced principals weren't going to beg parents to come "save" their schools from lack of cultural and fiscal capital. For many well-bred whites, this was the first time their privilege met a dead-end. Local elected officials weren't much help either. They, too, were black and proud, or white and smarter than to play race games, and they weren't interested in hearing solutions that didn't involve parents simply crossing out of their comfort zones and going local...

To the read the rest of my award winning essay (the Q at Parkside Spot On Award For Accuracy In Bloggiphying) be sure to go to Romper.