More Angst Over Prices in Bed Stuy


A long piece in City Journal about gentrification in Bed Stuy travels some well-worn ground that will be familiar to readers of this blog and long-time residents of Bed Stuy but perhaps news to outsiders. In a nutshell, the point of the piece is that Bed Stuy gentrified before whites arrived, and now houses cost $1,500,000 but shootings are still common. The story ends by wondering if gentrification will reverse itself and cites the case of a recent African American arrival who decamped to Kensington with his family.

“We were paying the rent of an upper-echelon neighborhood but had none of the security,” said the high school teacher.

One interesting fact the story uncovered: The much-touted 663 percent increase in the white population between 2000 and 2010 was actually due mostly to Hasids on the fringes of South Williamsburg, not hipsters or yuppies.

The story also quotes Bloomberg in the aftermath of a shooting that paralyzed an 11-year-old girl: “You have a right to live in Bed-Stuy and not have bullets whiz past your head.” That’s a nice sound bite, but we noticed that when a shooting occurred near Carroll Park, the police set up shop there; when the same thing happened in front of Saratoga Park, the police said there was no need for any extra police presence.

Meanwhile, the Real Deal looked into the details of who’s buying in Bed Stuy and found that 73 percent of sales of houses under $550,000 went to investors. “It’s tough out there for a Brooklyn buyer looking to land a modestly priced townhouse,” said the story. “But in the gentrifying area of Bedford-Stuyvesant, private buyers face even stiffer competition than elsewhere in the market for homes and small multi-family properties.” Flippers have been buying wrecks in all-cash deals for a long time, of course, but now the market is more competitive because the potential returns are higher than during the bust. An interesting tidbit: The story said that sometimes the price on the books isn’t the real price because buyers sometimes pay additional cash under the table to avoid tax.

Where do you see prices — and gentrification — in Bed Stuy heading next?

Bed-Stuy’s (Unfinished) Revival [City Journal]
Investors Are Behind 73 Percent of Bed-Stuy’s Cheaper Home Sales [TRD]
All Cash Investors Beating Buyers of Townhouses in Brooklyn [Brownstoner]

83 Comment

  • I’m sure the end of Stop and Frisk will be a hit in Bed-Sty ;-(

    • Who said Stop and Frisk will end. This is all election talk; this practice is here to stay.

      • A Federal judge disagrees with you. And actually the police, in the face of public pressure, legal decisions and perhaps a late recognition that they weren’t actually detecting criminals, have greatly reduced their authoritarian state practices without any uptick of crime. I am never sure whether these “we are all going to die because the police won’t be able to randomly detain and search young men of color”comments are trolling or merely ignorant.

      • I guess you didn’t really understand what the Federal judge actually said

        • If you are talking to me, To the extent that she issued an order forbidding the police from continuing to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion and ordered a monitor to, well, monitor their actions. I think I understand. But hey, what would I know after 20 years of representing indigent defendants in NYC courts.?

  • it’s all smoke and mirrors in Brooklyn now. Let the buyer be ware.

  • Another interesting quote

    “The Community has an identity and that identity is black,” Bed-Stuy’s city council representative, Al Vann, has warned. Vann does want to see the neighborhood develop—so that it can hold down the fort against outsiders.”

    I haven’t heard a quote that racist from an elected official in a long time.

    • Oh please, that’s hardly racist. Bedford Stuyvesant has been damned as a black low income ghetto, home of the black underclass, black this, black that, for several generations, and most of that “blackness” has not been seen in a positive light. But now that it’s desirable and valuable real estate, now it’s racist to say it’s a black neighborhood? The neighborhood’s identity is still black, and will be for a long time. Just like other neighborhoods are Italian, Irish, Pakistani, Chinese, Dominican, or Hasidic. They may all change, but that’s what they are now. So what?

      • in your comparison to “Italian, Irish, Pakistani..” you are inferring that by “black”, he meant ethnicity not race. Perhaps you’re right. However imagine if these words were even spoken by a white politician “The community has an identity, and that identity is white” There would certainly be an outcry..

      • Typical stance by MM. Always sensitive to racism except when the racism is coming from a person of color.

        MM are you saying you would be ok with the following?

        “The Community has an identity and that identity is White,” Bay Ridge city council representative, Vincent Gentile, has warned. Gentile does want to see the neighborhood develop—so that it can hold down the fort against outsiders.”

        • But Vann did not mean it that way, so what’s your point?

          And it’s not “typical MM” anything. From your handle, you live on Hancock Street? Since you’ve begun posting, you have done nothing but complain about Bed Stuy. You have the kind of attitude Vann was alluding to – the “I bought here because it was cheap, now that I’m here, change everything that I don’t like to make this place like the neighborhoods I can’t afford to live in.” attitude.

          There is a lot in Bed Stuy that needs improvement so that EVERYONE is safer. The victims of shootings here are not the gentrifying newcomers. But there is much here – very very much here, that is just fine the way it is. And Bed Stuy has always welcomed new people, no matter what their race or ethnicity. That’s why people like it here, and find their neighbors friendly.

          Vann was commenting on what I said before, that for generations no one had a problem with this undesirable neighborhood being black. Now it’s desireable, now saying it’s identity is black is racist? The context of what he said is important, not substituting other names and ethnic groups, and playing “what if so and so had said that?”. That’s a red herring. I don’t like it when black people do it, as in “if so and so had been black, then….” and I don’t like it any better when you do it.

        • MrHancock – maybe you should go back to the dictionary and look up the definition of “racism” or “racists” because clearly you do not know. Maybe you should do that and come back and see if the comment fits within the most elementary definitions. I don’t think that its anyone’s job here to explain to or educate you how your false equivilence by replacing one word in a sentence does not actually show anything. Systems of racism are able to be imposed on others (redlining, etc… if you read the original article) meaning its as much a power structure as a belief. I highly doubt this elementary school logic of word replacement deepens your understanding of it.

        • G, I’m sorry you find my remark to Mr. Hancock hateful, but I have been reading his crap for quite a while and his ignorant assertion of Al Vann’s “racism”, followed by his Al Sharpton crack below is a bit more than I’m ready to chew on today. And I am no fan of Al Sharpton, and have also had my complaints about Mr. Vann, over the years. After all, I’ve lived in his district for most of his tenure in state and city government.

          I also don’t like the word “racist” cheapened. It’s an ugly word, and I’ve experienced enough of it in my life to know real racism when it appears. Al Vann’s statement, taken in context of his entire answer to the question, as re-posted below by Jay, shows that Mr. Vann’s was far from racist. If you disagree, I’m sorry, but that is how I feel.

      • It’s one thing to describe a neighborhood as being of a particular ethnicity. It’s certainly another to say that it should stay that way by excluding newcomers which is exactly the stance he takes.

        • I’m sorry. I must of missed it. Where does he say he wants to “exclude newcomers”? You are wrong. That is not the stance he took. You are viewing through your own lens. Go back and actually read his words.

          • He make his position very clearly in his own words: “We can accept that diverse community if it’s primarily black. But I think we all have to recognize that it’s not going to stay because we want it to stay. It’s going to stay because we realize it’s important to our people that it stays.”


          • Spoke like a true Al Sharpton brainwashed fool.

          • Eh – I guess if you put the entire statement rather than selecting the one statement that you think goes to your point, your point wouldn’t be made. I’ll post the ENTIRE statement for others to view your statement in context of a fuller discussion. My question to you is – does advocating for an existing stong black community mean that he is excluding newcomers? Put a different way, just because he doesn’t care about newcomers, rather strengthening his existing community, the largest in black community in NYC, problematic for you?

            And now, the full statement:
            OTP: What about going forward, what do you see for the future of Bedford-Stuyvesant? We have growing Hasidic communities to the north and south, gentrification coming up the middle, there are foreclosures going on, you have high foreclosure rates, how do we stand as a community? How do we strengthen ourselves?

            Vann: Well, we also are seeing an increase of young black professionals who bought homes in Bed-Stuy, increasing the percentage of ownership which is very, very important. Unlike what happened in Harlem. And of course, we had a large percentage of homeownership, but some that we lost because of the problem with the economics and mortgages, and also because people are getting older and retiring. Some of them have sold out and moved away, but I believe that our survival will be ensured by maintaining a significant percentage of homeownership by African-Americans.

            More and more people are going into small businesses in our area, opening restaurants, boutiques, and we haven’t seen that in a long time. And they live in the community and run their businesses in the community. That’s how you begin to stabilize the community. It’s not all a bed of roses because all of the factors you mentioned are happening and if we’re not careful, we’re not strong, one day there will not be a Bed-Stuy that people will say is a black community. There is a risk but I believe that we will stabilize. Obviously, it is going to be more diverse than it ever was and I don’t think that can be reversed. We can accept that diverse community if it’s primarily black. But I think we all have to recognize that it’s not going to stay because we want it to stay. It’s going to stay because we realize it’s important to our people that it stays. Things like the Coalition for the Improvement of Bed-Stuy which we started. It’s a very important organization because it’s keeping all the developments corporations together in a way to get contracts to build or renovate in our community by these groups. There has to be consciousness about our ability to buy houses when they go up for sale. We can’t expect someone to sell it to us because we’re black. But if we can pay the same price others are paying that’s very important. So we have to have the economic institutions to make sure that we are protecting the culture, protecting the people because we are maintaining our presence in this community. It was a very conscious decision.

          • MrHancock – I really have nothing to say to you. Your comments are vapid and empty.

          • I’ll reply to here you rather than below because apparently the software only allows so many comments. Nothing posted changes the meaning of what he said. “We can accept that diverse community if it’s primarily black.” Primarily means mostly which means to the exclusion of others. My problem is what do race or ethnicity have to do with building a strong community? Why does it have to be a black community?

          • I will do the same. Let’s start with what the question was he was answering. The question was “how do we stand as a community?” and “how do we strengthen ourselves?”. It is quite clear the question is how we stand as a black community – a conversation internal to the EXISTING black community. Not to outsiders. His response is we can accept diversity and still be be strong black community. In his analysis, “primarily” does not necessarily mean to the exclusion of “newcomers”. Again, your lens matters. Primarily can alternatively mean, less cynically, black-owned businesses that contribute to the strength of the EXISTING community and not being pushed out. And yes, it also means having a significant population of people.
            Now, you ask why it has to be a black community? Because that is his preference, that’s why. That’s also the preference of the EXISTING community living there, which is why it is currently a majority black community. As folks were being redlined and isolated in these areas, they relied on each other and their community because they couldn’t do anything else. They were discriminated against by a number of power structures. That’s why. Now, you find it problematic, that those same people and descendants of those folks would like to maintain a semblence of the community that was there with them as others fled. You can say what does race have to do with it? I say a lot. Because race has a great deal to one with one’s experience and experience, support and need forms communities.
            Now, again, what is problematic with him wanting to strengthen the economic position of the black community in Bed-Stuy? Many representatives across the city represent different ethnic, cultural and racial communities and do what they must to strengthen them.

          • Essentially, let’s not act like the composition of Bed-Stuy was some historical accident. It was deliberate; the forces that caused it were real. Redlining was real and it had effects. “White flight” was real and it had its effects. And the community, the black community, responded in way that supported themselves. The desire to strengthen that community while others around them fled, discriminated and isolated them is quite understandable in that context.

          • His preference that it remains a black community is racist that’s all. The same way that a klan member’s preference that his community remains white is racist. You can write as in as much as you like but it won’t explain that fact.

          • It’s that simple for you, huh? It must be nice viewing the world through false equivilence where all things are equal and absolutely nothing is shaped by history and experience, except yours of course. His preference that it remain a diverse community that is primarily black is not racist, it is a preference. No where does he say it should remain black because black people are inherently better than white people (unlike the Klansperson you evoke). But, go ahead and equate a Klansman to a City Council member who would like to provide economic advantages to a historically disadvantaged community. That’ll get you far.

          • Thank you JAY. I was getting ready to do a treatise along the same lines, but you said it better.

            Eh, you have no idea what you are talking about. It is not racist to want to live in a community surrounded by people like you. Especially when you have come together as a group for reasons of real racism and bigotry. It is not racist to live in an all black community, when you are banned from living anywhere else. It is not racist to enjoy living around people in the same racial, ethnic, religious or language group as yourself, people have been doing it since there have been people. There is a comfort in not having to explain yourself, and sharing cultural habits and mores. That is not racism, that is culture.

            The racism word you so love to bandy about is in walling yourself into your own little community and not allowing anyone in who is different. The racism comes to play in burning crosses on lawns, or crossing the street when someone “other” approaches, or calling little kids names on the bus, or beating someone up because they are a different race, ethnicity or religion. It occurs when you go into a store and are followed around, or told by a real estate agent that there are no apartments or homes available, and then watch other people walk right in. Racism is redlining, or being stopped by the police or some community watch when you have done nothing other than walk down the street. Racism is going into a store and they don’t let you try things on, because you might leave racial cooties. Racism is being steered to another neighborhood when you want to buy, or when you are not welcome in a house of God because of your race. Racism is when you are not hired because someone doesn’t think you represent their brand. Racism is being in a group with your hand raised to ask a question, and everyone else gets picked but you, and it’s quite obvious to everyone.

            THAT’S RACISM, not Al Vann preferring to live amongst black people in a predominantly black community. Bed Stuy has never been about keeping people out. But while the outside world was too scared to come in, the people of Bed Stuy were busy building their own cultural, religious and economic institutions, as well as strong neighborhoods that sustained them until the rest of the world woke up. You can’t expect anyone, of any persuasion, to just let go of that because some new people move in who don’t understand any of that.

        • Racism is when you publicly pronounce that you prefer certain types of people not live or own a business in the area. You two are going through some ridiculous machinations to make it seem otherwise but you can’t.

          • Eh – Do me a simple favor – look the word up in the dictionary and come back to me with the definition is.

          • And again – you seem to not be actually reading what he ACTUALLY said, even though it’s in print for all to see. There is a difference between a negative action and a positive one. He never, as you declare “publicly pronounce that you prefer certain types of people NOT live or own a business in the area” [empasis added]. Simply reading comprehension would lead us to that fact. Rather he stated his preference that members of the black community ACTIVELY own homes and businesses. I hope you appreciate the difference between those two statements, rather than look at this like zero-sum game.

          • It’s this simple to illustrate the difference for you – The statment “I hope Eh succeeds” is not the same as “I hope no one else but Eh succeeds”.

  • Stop and frisk is the fallback of lazy cops. The overwhelming majority of people stopped were of color and NOT committing or or any crimes or infractions. Yes, most street crimes occur in neighborhoods of color, where criminals are largely shooting at one another. Those are the people most responsible for street crimes, those are the people on whom police need to focus their resources. Still most people of color are NOT criminals and should not have their civil rights violated by police who need to establish better criteria to detain any individual.

  • It’s only a matter of time before everyone wakes up and moves to Kensington. Speaking of which, probably time to change my screenname.

  • As one of Bed-Stuy’s evil white gentry, I don’t really understand these articles. I don’t feel this simmering hatred of white people. People here are nice enough and don’t seem to care what your skin color is. Not everything involving black people needs to be turned into a racial thing. That victimization peddled by Al Vann is just a distraction to avoid actually tackling real problems . It’s easy enough to aspire to have a community with a certain skin color. The hard work that needs to be done by everyone is building communities with educated, employed, happy people of every race.

    • None of this is unique to blacks or to Bed Stuy. In various countries and times, leaders of groups that lagged behind, economically and educationally, have taught their followers to blame all their problems on other people — and to hate those other people.

      • That’s just pure BS, and says more about you than anything else you’ve had to say.

        • MM thanks for proving my point. These are actually not my words but those of Thomas Sowell. Sorry for the delayed quote. Stick with your ethnic leaders and you will go nowhere.

          • I don’t care who said it. Just because it was said by a black man, I’m supposed to be lock step behind him? Black people are not a monolith, we do not need “leaders”, neither self appointed, nor appointed for us. We follow those who represent our interests, just like everyone else, and those people are as varied in thought and persuasion as are our interests.

            Every time you post, you keep perpetuating the same old stereotypes and nonsense about black people. We have or need “leaders”because we are incapable of thinking independently for ourselves. We are racist because we want other black people to succeed, or we enjoy living in a black community, and best of all, we hate white people.

            Please go project your issues somewhere else.

          • ^ This right here. Thank you Montrose. We can equally find quotes from, let’s see, Hitler or some equally despicable character just because he’s white, and apply that thinking to you MrHancock. I would simply hope the insight provided through this forum would educate you, but that hope is not very high based on what you’ve written before.

    • Totally agree with you bensteinbrooklyn, it’s so true. I’m curious to see if his successor will be more inclusive and focus on the real issue, let’s hope so.

    • Your statement reminds of the song “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you…” What hatred of “white” people? Why do “white” people have to be the focus of his attention? Do you feel left out in some way? If you read the article, it is an internal conversation between two members of the black community. Why does it have to involve you? Does the focus on strengthening black home ownership (and black owned businesses mean you hate white people – or does it mean you care about a black community? Are Hasidic Jews hateful of everyone else because they want to keep their communities strong? Those are two very different lenses. I don’t see where he says he hates white people at all. When you feel the needs of every person (white persons especially) must be included and addressed in EVERY conversation these community members have, or else you consider it hateful, just sounds like entitlement and selfishness to me.

  • I’ve lived in NYC for 16 years and I’ve been called a gentrifier in every neighborhood I’ve lived in….starting with the Lower East Side then Williamsburg in the late 90’s, to Clinton Hill, and finally Bed Stuy. It appears that I’ve been on a gentrifying blaze of glory!

    • Me too. But a childhood in West Philly made this seem normal.

      That being said, the speed at which Bed Stuy has appreciated is abnormal and unhealthy for everyone.

  • I challenge each and every one of you to say something nice about another race. This has to stop now.

  • I think the biggest problem with new and long term resident is cultural. Many new (mostly renters) are not involved with the community and seem to have a problem with there their tongues. Say HELLO or even nod your head ever once in awhile especially if you have made eye contact with someone. I have notice many of the new homeowners are better and somewhat cordial to neighbors . I do not want Bedford Stuyvesant to become this cold place full of pretentious people like so many other name-brand neighborhoods around NYC.

    • I agree with Amzi; as a white homeowner new to the area, I’ve made an earnest attempt to be friendly and meet my new neighbors. And for the most part people have been friendly in return. I haven’t had time to contact the block association yet, being as I’m still caught up in the whirlwind of moving and settling in (less than 6 months in the house), but I have plans to do so soon. I was very conscious when I moved in that I was moving and setting up shop in someone else’s neighborhood, alongside people who’d lived there for years (or in some cases, families who’d been there for generations). I don’t feel guilt or embarrassment, but I do feel a sense of responsibility to not be a stranger to that community, and to actively engage it.

      I’ve lived in various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, some affluent, some ghetto, and I’ve never encountered the friendliness and small-town vibe that I routinely experience here ANYWHERE else.

    • This is a good point–and well stated. It took me quite a while to readjust to living near friendly people. I was shocked, and I’d really like to avoid going back to how I was in those other neighborhoods. If you’re going to move into a neighborhood–you should try to adjust to its culture to some extent.

  • Who are the new comers exactly? As a very basic rule, as far as I know (and might I ad that I am a born and raised 4th generation New Yorker) custom has it that no matter where on this planet you are from… no matter where on earth at all, after 7 years in NYC… you are a New Yorker.
    How many years exactly are you suggesting you need to integrate into Bed Stuy?

  • Also, the City Journal article mentions something way more important (and less often mentioned) than the fact that the Satmar community is spreading into Bed-Stuy: namely, that a lot of the new businesses in the neighborhood are black owned. The article posits (and so do I) that this is very different from the pattern we’ve seen in other depressed areas that are seeing a revival. For example, Williamsburg; I lived there for 13 years, and was struck by how the ethnic groups (Polish, Puerto Rican, Italian and Hasidic) that were being pushed out by the new gentrifiers were not doing anything to capitalize on the changes that were occurring around them; very few, if any, new businesses that were opened by those long-time residents catered to the new residents of the neighborhood. Instead, those groups chose (and continue to choose) to view the newcomers as a negative force, “invaders” who didn’t belong. That has lead, inevitably, to a high amount of displacement among those groups that were less economically stable, primarily seen in the Latino/Puerto Rican community.

    In Bed-Stuy, particularly in Stuyvesant Heights, I see something different happening. A strong, already vibrant community is seeing a change occurring, and are actively taking part in it. It might be wishful thinking, but I believe that this will lead to the character of the area remaining stable, and economic renewal that everyone can enjoy.

  • I have lived in Bed-Stuy for almost 8 years now, near the Nostrand stop on the A train. I am white, my landlords are white, and it’s clear that there are more white people every month. But this is still a historically black neighborhood and I have absolutely no problem with that. Before, I lived in Clinton Hill for 19 years and the character of the neighborhood changed a lot, from a traditionally black working-class family neighborhood to a mostly white, upper-middle-class-to-rich (who can afford a $1-million-+ brownstone?) family neighborhood. That’s a big change. It is what it is and I hope it doesn’t happen here.

  • Hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but Bed Stuy is poised to become just like Park Slope.

    • I disagree. The demographic and economic histories of both communities are very different. While Park Slope had a much higher minority population in the 50s and 60s, it was was still more diversified in population than Bed Stuy was up until perhaps 10 years ago. It never really lost its “gold coast”, and there has always been more of a mixed population there. The Upper West Side would be a good comparison, as to its development.

      A major point of difference is also culture. Bed Stuy has been the cultural home of the African American and Caribbean American population in Brooklyn since the 1940s, with ties going back even further. I’m not just talking about music or the arts, either. Institutions like the black church, black fraternal organizations like the Masons, and other community building bedrocks are dug deep into Bed Stuy. They never had as tight a hold in Park Slope, in fact, many black people in Park Slope worshipped and belonged to the organizations in Bed Stuy.

      Some people like to compare Harlem to Bed Stuy, and while there are certainly similarities in social, economic, racial and cultural histories, there are also major differences, and the biggest one is the major reason why Bed Stuy will not be Park Slope, or even Harlem. That difference is home ownership. The percentage of black homeowners in Bed Stuy is much higher than in Harlem, which has long been more of a community of renters. Harlem also has more apartment buildings.

      There is a large percentage of black homeowners in Bed Stuy whose homes have been paid off, free and clear, for generations. These people are not going anywhere, many own several homes, and it is they who will, to a great degree, determine what the community looks like in the future.

      • MM, call me in 10 years and we’ll talk about the demographics of Bed Stuy. My prediction is 80% white, 20% black.

        • We’ll have to agree to disagree. Community is a hard won thing, and won’t be relinquished just because it may be financially enticing. I don’t think a huge majority will up and leave because a lot of money is waved in their faces. Some would be highly insulted to think that they can be simply bought out of a community that either they, or their ancestors or relatives literally gave their blood, sweat and tears to acquire and preserve. Where are they supposed to go in this city of multi-million dollars houses? A home is not just the building, it’s the community around it, your church, your friends, all of the other connections that make it a neighborhood. The home-owning part of the black community will not go easily.

          The renters are another story, they will be tossed around more by market forces, but in spite of that, I don’t see Park Slope in Bed Stuy’s future. There is much more of an effort to have affordable housing in Bed Stuy, and that will also help offset the extremes of rich and poor. And for the record, I do not think all the white folk are rich, nor do I think all black folk are poor, and I know that not everyone in Park Slope is rich. That one is not for you, halfwit.

  • And while you are all arguing over a comment by Al Vann, no one has mentioned other important issue.
    While the houses are fetching upwards to $1.6M, the zoned schools are terrible.
    I will ask again and again, where are the parents that are snapping up these million+ homes sending their children to school?

  • Your hope is seriously misplaced. I have a problem with stop and frisk, as I explained in my earlier post. Perhaps you should read it again. Unlike you I’m not talking about hypothetical “what if” scenarios. I’m talking about the practice as it’s applied on the streets of NYC. Apparently, based on the result of the mayoral election, which was in part a referendum on the practice as it is applied on the streets of NYC, I’m not the only one who feels as I do.

  • Been lurking here for about a year. First time commenting. Seems like there are two issues being spoken about here. I’ll make one comment about Stop and Frisk and a second about race-community issues in Bed Stuy.

    Stop and Frisk. A single life is an enormous thing. So, IF a policy is going to save a single life, then you need to have a good argument against it. The best argument I can think of against it isn’t often articulated, so here it goes. If you’re a minority–black and hispanic men are both targeted (I don’t think women are, but I may be misinformed)–then stop and frisk means this: your body is up for grabs by an arbitrary authority based on an aspect of your very being that you were born with. If this is true, you’ll learn to walk around in fear over something that isn’t your fault. Anyone subject to such conditions at any point in there life for whatever reason has every right to grow up resentful, angry, and hostile. The Cats of Mirikatani is a very touching documentary about how the internment of the Japanese during WWII affected the life of a single individual. There is a difference between internment and arbitrarily touching people on the streets, but it’s one of degree not of kind. Having looked at the data–I don’t think they demonstrate that we should be willing to put any group through what S&F does. I take that statement seriously because there have been shootings near my house, and I love my wife.

  • On community relations and race in Bed Stuy. I’ve lived in East-Stuy for about a year. Before then I’ve lived in Italian neighborhoods, polish neighborhoods, and ‘hipster ‘hoods’ for lack of a better term. I have more in common with some of those neighborhoods and less with others–demographically or ethnically or racially speaking.

    Not one came anywhere near to approaching the friendliness and warmth I have been met by my neighbors in Bed Stuy. The genuine kindness and warmth of this community is something special–and something certainly worth trying to preserve. The lack of warmth differed significantly among the other communities I’ve lived in. So–saying that you’re trying to preserve a black community, in the context in which the quote was made, seems legit to me. The fact that there has been a track record of areas in bed-stuy and bushwick changing demographically and losing some of the neighborhood friendliness underlines that.

    History is another issue that is important to address here. I don’t think there’s anything abnormal or racist to desire to preserve the historical character of a community, even if that character also coincides with skin color. If italian people were neon purple, it would be reasonable for them to want to keep the area of east williamsburg where they have the san genero festival every year neon purple. The fact that they aren’t and want to keep it italian doesn’t change anything as far as I can tell. To insist that there isn’t a community that is as tied together as ethnic communities just because the people in that community don’t all come from the same country (largely a fact that results from a history of really terrible mistreatment) seems to me willful ignorance — though one that is understandable to some extent because these conversations are often had in angry and explosive language.

    In general, though, to read a comment and say “that’s racist” isn’t a helpful way to engage in this conversation. To say “that comment isn’t fair because it would subject me to a hardship that I don’t think I should be subject to for these reasons” is a better way to engage and not enrage another person. This stuff is hard and difficult and painful for everyone to talk about–white people, black people, men, women, older people, and younger people. Try to give everyone a little slack, even people who say things that are pig headed? Maybe they’re doing it out of hurt–and even if they aren’t–you’re not going to change anyone’s minds by stoking anger.

  • I’m not generally one to comment, but this whole article and comment section was so interesting to me that I felt I had to. I don’t find it racist for Vann to say that the neighborhood has a black history and should retain its black identity. One of the reasons I moved to Bed Stuy was because I craved diversity after having lived in a high rise building in Downtown Brooklyn. I grew up with a Puerto Rican father from the Bronx and a Czechoslovakian Jewish mother from the Lower East side who constantly lamented having to give up their cultures to move to Long Island for their children. What I find racist is the fact that Buppies (black yuppies) are celebrated while white “gentrifiers” are evil. I don’t think it’s fair to say that one group of affluent young professionals can change the neighborhood and seemingly push locals out. I want Bed Stuy to stay black because I want it to stay authentic to its roots, not because I want black young professionals exclusively to inhabit it. That said, I’ll just say that my favorite part of Bed Stuy so far is the pride people take in their neighborhood. I went to a CB3 meeting and the people that attended ran the gamut from living in the projects to living in $1+ brownstones. Most people weren’t too concerned over the “lack of amenities.” They knew what they signed up for and were happy enough to want to get involved in the growth of the neighborhood. If you think Bed Stuy is getting too expensive for the type of neighborhood it is, then don’t live there. You spend your money, and they will spend theirs. I’m happy having a wonderful home that I love and I hope the neighborhood and the community continue to grow and change but still keep the wonderful multicultural feel.

    • Hi marcyres. I enjoyed reading your comment. I just have one question. Are you pointing to what some comments said above when you talk about “while ‘gentrifiers’ are evil” or something in the articles or Vann’s interview? I ask because I believe that the conversation in “Our Time” was a specific conversation between two members of a black community in a specific neighborhood with historic significance undergoing real changes and how that community could remain strong against that backdrop. Not a conversation on how to keep white people out. Encouraging black home and business ownership is a positive thing to me very different from “keep them out”.

      • Sorry for the late response, I was at work and didn’t see this until now. I think the comments were really what drew me in, but the article I felt had a discriminatory undertone throughout the entire thing. Like I said earlier, I have no problem with Vann wanting Bed Stuy to retain its black history and culture.
        “Given this history, it’s not hard to see why some locals glower at the arrival of bike-riding, parent-dependent white musicians and creative couples pushing toy-bedecked strollers. These newcomers, priced out of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Clinton Hill, have made $1,500-a-month one-bedroom apartments and $1.5 million houses the new normal in the once-cut-rate neighborhood. Unwittingly, they’ve pushed low-income locals out of places they called home back when no one wanted anything to do with their neighborhood.”
        That is the most glaring example I can find of saying that white gentrification is pushing people out while not including these “buppies.” Couldn’t the author easily have just excluded the word white and made the same point.
        Maybr you don’t agree with me about the attitude about the article l. I think I’ve also been influenced by other articles I haven’t about Bed Stuy where commenters have seemed unfairly anti-Stuy. Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion and every neighborhood gets its’ share of haters but it seems Bed Stuy gets hated on more than most.

        • I agree with this as well. I often think people use the word or idea of gentrification to be racist against white people, to keep white people out. To MM’s earlier point of the cheapening of the word racism, this is not racist like the holocaust or segregation, more of an annoyance… but there is no other word. For instance Vann begins,”Well, we also are seeing an increase of young black professionals who bought homes in Bed-Stuy, increasing the percentage of ownership which is very, very important.” Here it seems to me he is talking favorably about black yuppies transplanting into BS but he says he only wants enough white people to keep the neighborhood mostly black. This seems to me he is not worried about pushing poor people out or keeping locals here, he is concerned about that the color is black. Although I want brooklyn and BS to retain a large Black population and it wouldnt be the same without them…. fights or comments against gentrification should be focused on keeping the existing community and poorer families not just color. Jay said earlier its not the black residents fault there was a white flight, its not my fault either that my parents and their generation left for the suburbs…. the suburbs suck…. the real problem is people who come in and try and change the area to suburbs, that I think most of us agree. A white yuppy vs black yuppy transplant shouldn’t be favored. Any way I don’t know if anyone is reading this any more or I am talking to my self, but thisvis a thought I have not just from Vanns comment but also sitting at big daddy kane concert or dead pres concert, everybody has some comment. Finally these blog and leader comments probably make it look to outsiders that there is crazy tension around here … but to them, there is not. BS as stated by other posters is one of the friendliest communities I have seen.

          • Bk33 – I don’t think that is true. There is another word: it’s “unpleasant”. Gentrification as an idea is unpleasant to those who feel implicated because they may not necessarily want to have that effect. That is fine – I think there are a number of people above who have emphasized (as well the article) being part of the neighborhood and understanding what you are moving into. Gentrification has more to do about economic influence/power and how it disrupts communities, culture and those structures.
            Let me reiterate what I’ve said earlier. Not viewing this conversation in context as a internal black community conversation (whether you feel that community should exist is not the point here) will cause confusion. They are having a conversation about the black community – that is all. They do not need to address nor do they white people in this conversation. It’s a question of how does a community respond in the face of change. The reality is there are 1,500 a month apartments that people can’t afford. If a community is to be maintained and it is important to them, how do they respond to that? I think all communities need the space to have these conversations – and it doesn’t have to be zero-sum. The fact that your parents and their generation moved to suburbs means their economic ability to do so and that you can move back (again – you have a choice and options) means your economic ability and desire to do so. The community and its members are at the whims of that decision.
            I think BS is a friendly place as well. These are important conversations and I’m happy there are mature and thoughtful people with differing viewpoints who can have the conversation without resorting to name-calling and personal attacks.

        • I think that there is a difference between calling something discrimination and stating a fact. I don’t understand how people are being discriminated against to be honest, and I think that word, just like the word “racist”, needs to be used a bit more responsibly. We can’t ignore the fact that these are general trends that are happening – more of a 10,000 foot view versus an individualist view. I’d add that just because the identity of these people are being presented or more clearly race is being identified doesn’t mean its discriminatory. It is the identity of a general trend. The underlying point I believe is these communities (mostly black and with large amounts of poor folks) do not have the economic power of the people who can make the decision to come and go as they please. Historically, they were able to leave when it suited them, and they are able to come back. Poor people do not have that option. They are at the mercy of people with economic power. It follows that the very nature of the neighborhood is tied to that economic reality. The poor, mostly black people can be pushed out of neighborhoods where they built structures to deal with that reality as needed by those with economic power. I do not think this is just an abstract or individualistic thought exercise. I think the effects are very real.

          • What does they left because they had the means mean, you assume? They were poor immigrants as poor as the average bedstuy population…. they went to cheaper land to have more space and flee the percieved evils of the city. Actually if you read literature and research from that time the flight was viewed negatively as fleeing areas with imigrants and minorities. Now the rearrival does as well. Gentrication should mean rising prices and wealthier population not white and black. Black yuppies most people say nothing too. Although I don’t think anyone who moves to an area where they can afford to buy and like living should feel bad and I ccertainly don’t. I am insulted that you tHink I should…. most discriminatory comments happen within the same race and community obv, I would be less offended if it was a private conv and not public however.

          • I mean they had the ability to move where (and when) they pleased. I mean they had options. If you look at the development of city’s over time from an urban economics perspective, the “inner-ring” suburbs and “outer-ring” suburbs, you needed to have means to build a house from the ground up and move on. Even if it was viewed negatively, it happened. And it’s effects were real. I don’t think poor people were getting up and building homes in suburbs that had regulations like minimum lot sizes and certain rules put in place to keep certain people out.
            We may have different definitions of gentrification, or you may just be viewing the surface – it’s just about money – but those economic factors have social consequences not measured by a dollar amount. Whether you believe it should be about race and displacement I guess is ok when you are not on the receiving end of it. I guess it all depends where you stand. And honestly, you can feel however you want, but I don’t think I am telling you to feel bad. But at the same time, while you reserve the right not feel bad, you should not be excoriating a community that wishes to preserve itself just because you think you will “lose out” (zero-sum) in some way. Why should they feel bad about caring about their community?
            Lastly, on your last point, the readership of “Our Time” magazine is geared towards a particular readership. Actually, I’m not quite sure what you are offended by?

  • I’m of Puerto Rican descent and I was born and raised in bed stuy. I want nothing more than for all this gentrification to disappear and for the neighborhood to be beautified and fixed up for it’s long time residents. Call me racist if you want but I just can’t get over the fact that my neighborhood and its people weren’t worth a damn to be fixed up until whites with money became interested in it. Fuck these white developers and fuck our white city and state politicians for fucking us over like this. I’m now newly separated and living in a cramped little room with 2 children in a relatives apartment because no one will rent to a single mother with kids who doesn’t take home a shit load of money and doesn’t have a perfect credit score. And affordable housing? Well there isn’t enough and it is not easy to obtain. I KNOW this is the way many long term residents feel and we are as powerless as “the south side” (Williamsburg) was against this thing. I’m a real victim of bed stuy gentrification and it’s fuckin scary…..