Don't anyone dare lecture me about Race

AuthorRabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Published date12 August 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
My Father died from leukemia when I was barely a boy of fourteen. He imbued many warm and rich values in me. Likewise, my Mother deeply influenced me on several issues. No surprise. One thing I carry from her is that a Black doctor and his family moved into our all-White Brooklyn neighborhood. Soon, the real-estate blockbuster vultures were leaving flyers, and all the Caucasians ran to Long Island — the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, the Poles. It is similar to the way that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of "Ben & Jerry's" and Brooklyn's Bernie Sanders all fled racially diverse New York for Vermont, which assured them the opportunity to become multi-millionaires amid an apartheid lifestyle in a state that is 97% White.

A beautiful Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn — the area in the East 50's, just before Ralph Avenue, at avenues like Glenwood Boulevard, Farragut Road, and Foster Avenue — changed overnight.

My mother was the only one who would not leave. She loved her house, decorated and renovated it exactly as she liked, and she saw no reason to run from a Black doctor. We soon were the only Whites on the block. I grew up with that, living as the sole Caucasian on a street that not only was racially diverse, but that was populated virtually completely by Black households.

In the end, all the others sold their homes at good prices, converted their home equity to Long Island, where their home values shot up even more. When my Mom sold her home decades later, as we four kids not only had left the nest, but now had kids of our own, two of us in Southern California and two in Queens, Mom sold to move to Queens to be near her grandchildren and two of the four of us. Mom found that, with her house mortgage completely paid off, her house sold for $35,000 instead of the multi-hundreds-of-thousands her former neighbors' Long Island homes were worth. So the White Flight meant:

1. It was financially smart to flee to Long Island if everyone else is.

2. It is financially foolish to stay.

3. A Black family that tries to move into an upscale upper-middle-class neighborhood could not get a break, because their presence — at least in those days — turned it into the same neighborhood from which they were trying to move up. The Bernie Sanderses and Bens and Jerrys always flee Whiter.

I never know whether this is the day that someone will try to cancel me and call me one of the names that Hillary used to fill her basketful of deplorables.

Years later, my dear precious Ellen of blessed memory and I flew back to Brooklyn for a wedding. We arrived early in the day, and the wedding was at night, so I asked Ellen whether she would mind seeing where I grew up. We rented a car and drove to both homes of my boyhood. Those neighborhoods, once a blend of Jews, Italians, Irish, and Poles, now were 100% Black. And, y'know what? They both still were lovely, tree-lined communities. We had just driven through Flatbush (Avenue J or so, around East 16th Street or so). Without going into...

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