In the middle of my weekend ritual walking down Myrtle Ave away from my yuppie spaceship I ran into two gentlemen walking the opposite direction. One decided to address me, and here’s what happened next.
Gentleman 1: Yo
Me: What’s up?
Gentleman 1(indignantly): What’s up?
Me(thinking he might have been talking to someone behind me): Are you talking to me?
Gentleman 1: Yeah, do you know where you at?
Me: Yes, I’m on Myrtle Ave.
Gentleman 2: [Something unintelligible to Gentleman 1 as they walk past me]
Me: Have a nice day.
Gentleman 1: Shut up.
Are you as confused as I was?
I don’t think Gentleman 1 appreciated me being in the neighborhood, but other than being quasi-threatening he left me alone while Gentleman 2 just seemed disinterested in the whole affair. Would Bed-Stuy have been a better response? I was excited that someone initiated a conversation with me that didn’t end up asking me for money, but it’s not like we discussed the finer points of modern philosophy.
Is it that obvious that I’m an outsider? If so, what’s wrong with some new faces in the nabe?
Here’s a nice video that is a good introduction to Bedford-Stuyvesant, but I do think it reveals a wish for exclusivity still remains. Check the comments around 5:20. Of course, the person in the video provides a good rationalization for her view and nice examples, but it is ultimately exclusionary.
This is not to say that this view isn’t held by people in other communities which are ‘historically’ this or ‘historically’ that, but merely a subjective observation.
While in college I questioned the long term effects of encouraging so-called ‘diversity’, that is increasing minority enrollment for its own sake. Imagine if you could pick 100 people in any random square mile in the United States and have those people be as close to the national breakdown of ethnicities as possible, what would the consequences be?
We’d be a much more homogeneous society in some sense, there wouldn’t be places like Bed-Stuy or Chinatown or the Hamptons. Places seemingly defined by the demographic they are known for would be a thing of the past. Would that be a bad thing? What would Chinatown look like in such a scenario? Would the look change just because of who lives there, or would there be a push to preserve the faÃ§ade? Anywhere you went the people would look the same. To preserve remnants of the ethnic uniqueness of an area a false shell would have to be maintained.
Is that what we want?
How could we not want it?