18 years in Wall Street, left after finding out it was all horseshit. Founder/ Master and Commander: iBankCoin, finance news and commentary from the future.
Joined Nov 10, 2007
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My Experience with White Flight

I had what you can call a ‘Tom Sawyer like childhood’, in a middle class suburban neighborhood in Flatlands, Brooklyn. I lived  in a 3BR apartment, with my Mother and sister, across the street from my Grandparents, who we visited daily. My Father was murdered when I was 4, so it was just us. My Mother worked two jobs to keep us fed and clothed and I spent the majority of my time in the parking lots with dozens of kids my age playing baseball, tag, manhunt, kick the can, midnight madness (based off the movie), football, hockey or a simple game of hardball errors (IYKYK). My Mother also made sure I got involved with the Catholic Church and made me become an altar boy, which I did about 3 days per week.

During the summers we’d go to the pool club that belonged to our buildings. We’d hang out there from morning to night, playing swimming games (Marco Polo), racing, doing cannonball contests, or diving for money when the managers would create events for the kids. There were pinball machines inside and shuffleboard courts outside, but we more or less focused on swimming. At the end of each swimming season, the managers would throw quarters into the pool for the kids to get and then everyone would take their mats and toss them into the pool and have a great big floating party, amidst the music and laughter of people genuinely happy. When that event happened, I always knew it was time to go back to school.

My elementary school was mixed race because just down the block were the housing projects. I got along great with my black classmates and grew up with them and considered them friends. There weren’t many fights in the school, but there were some. I’d get into plenty of fights with my own friends, but that’s just the way it was back then, or at least where I grew up. If you had an argument with someone, you settled it there and after the fight ended you shook hands and became friends again.

Then in 1989  the building I lived in and the 4 associated with it turned condo. While this might sound great, it actually destroyed the neighborhood. They offered tenants money to leave and most did, including my Mother. I think they gave her $15,000, which was a decent sum back then. My Grandparents didn’t take the offer because they were old and couldn’t care less about moving. This is when the white flight occurred, in earnest.

Moving in were middle class west indian families, mostly from Jamaica and Trinidad. From my vantage point, they were great people and I made good friends with many of whom were my age when visiting my grandparents and friends on the weekends. And then the cultural rot of the 1990s took hold, with gangster rap music, crack, and glorified bad behavior. Many of my friends’ parents bought their apartments instead of taking the money to move, so I still had the majority of my childhood friends there. Like many kids who turn into teenagers, my friends fell into smoking pot, drinking beer, and chasing girls are their primary objective.

The housing projects that I mentioned earlier got inexorably worse, in terms of safety, and I no longer walked around there. Before the 90s, it was about 20 to 30% white, and it was considered by other housing projects to be “soft.” The group of buildings my Grandparents lived in were considered beyond soft and often times teenagers from the housing projects would visit to rob and fight with the newly arrived west indians and the whites. In my experience, the west indians were far less violent  than some of the more vocal American blacks in the neighborhood. There was once a lad dubbed “Livewire” who terrorized the neighborhood, akin to Omar from The Wire, robbing people with either an ax or box cutter and was known to cut people when they resisted.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you what transpired from 1990 to 1999.

The buildings were unable to sell condos and the company who owned it went bankrupt. The new owners made the apartments rentable again, opening it to low income black families.

The neighborhood went from 90% white to 95% black, all this inside of a decade.

One of the stores I used to frequent as a boy for candy  got bought and the new owners sold drugs from it.

Car thefts and robberies skyrocketed. I once knew someone (west indian) who’d steal cars all the time, just for the pleasure of joyriding. He never sold them and just wanted to ride in a nice car. He came from a good family, and was raised well by an educated Mother, but chose to be a criminal for reasons that I still cannot understand.

One day 5 of my friends were shot, 1 through the chest, by two gunmen in a totally random but deliberate attack. They walked down the block where my friends were and opened fire. Thankfully all survived. It was only by chance that I was not there.

One of the car thieves got into a high speed chase from cops and accidentally ran over an elderly white woman, killing her. He got 10 years in prison.

One of my friends was shot in the head and killed over a dispute over a girl.

I was robbed for my jacket by gunpoint at 13 years of age, on Thanksgiving.

Our local shopping mall, where we used to frequent on weekends, became unsafe and was targeted by mobs of black teens for acts of wanton criminality.

The new generation of kids did not play outside like we did and the parking lot was quiet and abandoned by the youth. The pool club closed and became a CVS. Most of my friends who stayed got into drugs and many died. It was because my Mother moved out of there when I was 13, and the fact my Grandparents died in the late 90s, that I wasn’t really around there to enjoy the full splendor of the neighborhood collapsing into ruin. For example, our local high school, South Shore, was shuddered by the city because students were being killed, maimed, and grades were failing.

South Shore is now used by the NYPD to train. It used to house over 3,000 students.


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  1. metalleg

    Wonder if the school cleared the use of the Minnesota Vikings logo.

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  2. alaric

    That was very interesting.

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