I bounced around for several months until I settled into what would be my home for twelve months: A predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in Brooklyn - one many considered dangerous, one I felt lucky enough to afford… a little neighborhood called Williamsburg.
My parents worried.
I didn't realize it at the time, but I had the neighborhood to look out for me. That's right. As the only 'white' girl in the neighborhood, there seemed to be an unspoken rule - my neighbors kept an eye on me… they watched out for me.
I loved my time in Williamsburg… the people I met - the crazy artists living above me, my landlord (yes, my Hispanic landlord, who generously ran an extension to my apartment so I would have electricity), the squatters across the street - eventually, as time and money permitted I moved one neighborhood over….
Twenty three years later, my daughter moved out of her tenth street dorm room in Manhattan and into a predominantly West Indies neighborhood of Brooklyn.
And yet, I wonder why. When I visited her, I experienced the same hospitality, the same welcoming arm I did twenty three years ago. The neighborhood watches their own… regardless of race - regardless of skin color.
But does it?
I am white. My daughter - although half Brazilian, is white - 'whiter' than I am….
Would a 'white' neighborhood embrace a young black or Hispanic woman?
Would a 'white' neighborhood watch out for a young black or Hispanic women?
Sadly, I believe the answer is no.
God forbid, a young black or Hispanic man moved into a 'white' neighborhood.
I don't understand the fear that race and skin color invoke…
I do understand unease - however, the UNEASE of being the minority - NOT the majority. As a WHITE person, have *you* ever thought about the black or Hispanic individual… being the ONLY black or Hispanic individual, in a sea of WHITE faces?
I am not perfect. As I have gotten older, and have lived in less diverse neighborhoods (sadly my current neighborhood has been ranked one of the least diverse neighborhoods in the U.S.A.) I find myself looking to others with suspicious eyes…
However, I hope the day never comes where I grab a gun and talk myself into following someone who comes into my neighborhood because I don't like the look of their walk, the clothes they wear or the color of their skin - because god only knows, that could be me… that could be my daughter.