We’d like to ignore New York Magazine’s article, “I Put in White Tenants’: The Grim, Racist (and Likely Illegal) Methods of One Brooklyn Landlord,” but people keep emailing us about it, posting it on Facebook — and it’s now “most read” on the magazine’s site.
The article is a Studs Terkel-like stream-of-consciousness 1,600-word quote from a racist Hasidic landlord who describes a variety of questionable and sometimes outright illegal money-making real estate schemes, from buying deeds on lis pendens property to driving blacks out of rental property and replacing them with whites. A sample quote:
The building was full of tenants — $1,300, $1,400 tenants. We paid every tenant the average of twelve, thirteen thousand dollars to leave. I actually went to meet them — lawyers are not going to help you. And we got them out of the building and now we have tenants paying $2,700, $2,800, and they’re all white. So this is what we do. My saying is — again, I’m not racist — every black person has a price. The average price for a black person here in Bed Stuy is $30,000 dollars. Up over there in East New York, it’s $10,000 dollars. Everyone wants them to leave, not because we don’t like them, it’s just they’re messing up — they bring everything down. Not all of them.
Is quoting a racist with no context also racist? Seems the article is implying this guy is not atypical. The article says “It is important to remember that Ephraim [a pseudonym] is one voice on a wide spectrum.”
The article is an excerpt from a forthcoming book, The Edge Becomes the Center,” by DW Gibson, from Overlook Press. Perhaps New York Magazine intends to publish more excerpts in its print magazine that will give a more balanced picture.
In any case, we think it’s worth noting that, racism aside, replacing tenants paying $1,300 or $1,400 for an apartment with tenants paying $2,700 or $2,800 a month is a very common practice in many parts of Brooklyn these days, regardless of the color of the tenants or the views of the landlord.