An Article in Today's NY Times About Crown Heights...
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    A woman opens up about a man groping her on a street corner in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. Since the incident, she has struggled to find a sense of belonging amid crime.
  • This article basically seems to conclude that sexual assaults and muggings are a valid form of self-defense exercised by a community against the evil gentrifiers.

    It's probably the worst article I've ever read in the NYT, and that's saying something.
  • Another Richol Bakery fan.
  • I don't take any conclusions of that type from the article, eastbloc.  Which part makes you think that the victim is giving a pass to people whose neighborhood to defend what is left of pre-gentrified area by committing more assaults/muggings? 

    I honestly don't even detect any element of the writer feeling like an "evil gentrifier".. did we even read the same article? 


  • I honestly don't even detect any element of the writer feeling like an "evil gentrifier".. did we even read the same article? 
    The writer's words: "I had landed in a community about which I knew nothing. Rather, I knew I was the gentrifier — that much was obvious — but I hadn’t known what that meant. Whatever I did know or had done reeked of paternalism; it fell into a pattern of assumptions that outsiders bring with them when they think they will “form community” in an already existing community."

    ETA: I suspect that the title of the article "On Being Both the Wolf and the Lamb" is a clue.

    I wonder whether her being subject to unwanted groping on the street is a reflection on the neighborhood itself or a manifestation of the perils of city living. 
  • Hmm, fair enough.  She recognizes that others perceive her as an evil gentrifier/wolf.  I don't believe that she thinks that her gentrifier role entitles others to try to drive her away by forcing themselves on her. 

    Sure, living in the city can open up the opportunity for unwanted attention, provide a level of anonymity and can also mean that police can't take a particularly active role in investigating (since they have to triage against murders, felony assaults, hit and runs) but you don't think that Nostrand Ave/Crown Heights was a major factor?  A potential groper wouldn't try to pull that type of thing in lots of neighborhoods in the city and would be much less likely to try in other areas. 
  • dac545 said:

    but you don't think that Nostrand Ave/Crown Heights was a major factor?  A potential groper wouldn't try to pull that type of thing in lots of neighborhoods in the city and would be much less likely to try in other areas. 



    I honestly don't know. 

    Full disclosure - I was the victim of a similar incident years ago when I was a young teenager. This incident happened in 1989 a few blocks from my house, near the Crown Heights/PLG border. I didn't report it because I had no idea what to do or how to deal with it.

    I suspect that maybe, yes, this type of thing may be more likely to happen in certain neighborhoods than in others. This brings to mind I a discussion on city-data.com initiated by a professional woman who was victimized several times by street hasassment (once it had turned physical); she was frustrated and she was looking for suggestions on how to reduce the likelihood of such incidents from happening. The discussion was so frustrating it wasn't really constructive. Several people of course mentioned race, which turned out to be a minefield. Others didn't seem to take the woman's sense of victimization seriously. Some people said basically, "What did you expect by moving to such a neighborhood?" and, "Move!"

    I hate to see the same sort of comments come up in the conversation regarding this woman's experiences. I'm curious to hear a rational hypothesis for what motivates a groper or street harasser and why he tends to commits such actions in certain areas and not in others.
  • I'd predict it is a combination of women who meet his preferences, and a perceived likelihood of not getting caught.

    That said, I imagine that like most crimes, gropers tend to victimize mostly people of their own race.

    Note, this stems from an assumption that most people spend more time around their own race than others. (Not always true, of course)
  • On the other hand, I enjoyed this response to the article that was published today:

    http://www.bkmag.com/2014/02/25/everything-wrong-with-gentrification-in-one-new-york-times-article/
  • I HATED this article.  What the hell does sexual assault have to do with gentrification?  NOTHING.
  • Whynot, that response article is fantastic.
  • xlizellx said:

    Whynot, that response article is fantastic.



    Agreed. People that live in Crown Heights while hating it and wishing they could afford somewhere else really, really suck. I wish they could afford somewhere else too. Soon.
  • i also love the response article
  • xlizellx said:

    I HATED this article.  What the hell does sexual assault have to do with gentrification?  NOTHING.



    What did it have to do with her living in Crown Heights?

    The response article hit on why the original Times article had rubbed the wrong way. 
  • Full disclosure: I didn't particularly like the original article either, but it pertained to Crown Heights and I thought it might make for some interesting fodder for debate.  I was also curious whether others had the same response I did, or if my own status as a "gentrifier" (as if one moves to a neighborhood with the intent of gentrifying), albeit one who's lived here for over a decade now, was behind my initial dislike of the article (I kept thinking "we're really not all like that.").
  • Fear not mcpoet, to get an unbiased reaction from others, several regulars (including myself) regularly post items without comment.

    From the various comments I've read around the web on this article, commenters seem annoyed for some combination of these reasons:

    1. Because they believe the writer assumes she was groped because she is white.

    2. Because they believe the writer would rather live somewhere else, while they dream of simply continuing to live HERE.

    3. Because they fear that others will perceive them as being like the writer.

    4. Because they believe she assumes that the neighborhood tolerated such behavior before her arrival.
  • mcpoet said:Full disclosure: I didn't particularly like the original article either, but it pertained to Crown Heights and I thought it might make for some interesting fodder for debate.  I was also curious whether others had the same response I did, or if my own status as a "gentrifier" (as if one moves to a neighborhood with the intent of gentrifying), albeit one who's lived here for over a decade now, was behind my initial dislike of the article (I kept thinking "we're really not all like that.").

    The article may have fallen under the "Crown Heights" header because the incident happened in Crown Heights. The impression I got from the article is that this incident happened because the writer had made the mistake of moving to Crown Heights (a neighborhood that is
    sooo dangerous, oh, no!) Plus, the fact that the writer and her assaulter were of difference races was mentioned. That sets up the potential for discussion of the article to become skewed and devolve very quickly. 

    Full disclosure, I disliked the article right away and I grew up in the neighborhood. 

    A responsible action may have been including a narrative from a native resident who was a victim of a similar crime for balance. Then, the tone becomes less of "gentrifiers vs. natives" while keeping the focus where it should be: being subject to being groped on the street is wrong.
  • Despite the fact that it also rubbed me the wrong way, I think the writer hits on two things that ring true.

    The first is that she (and a lot of people) moved here without knowing much about the neighborhood. In her case, she was unaware of the level of crime -- though I don't think what happened to her had anything to do with how safe or unsafe Crown Heights is, and I don't think CH is unsafe. But I constantly hear newcomers being surprised by things that are either easily researched or visibly obvious to anyone who's spent five minutes here and I want to ask "Didn't you ever come here before you moved here?"

    The second is that it never occurred to her that she might be targeted because she's seen as a gentrifier -- though I don't think what happened to her had anything to do with that either. But it would be naive of me to say that newcomers aren't targeted by some existing criminal elements (I think they certainly are for robberies and muggings) and I've also been told by some of my new neighbors about being harassed on the street specifically on the basis of their whiteness or newness. It's rare but it does happen.

    That said, what's so troubling -- as both the response article and whynot point out -- is the implication that a sexual assault that happened to happen here is a consequence of, or to be expected from, living here and the assumption that the neighborhood tolerates it. I don't think location had much to do with it; in my experience verbal street harassment and the tolerance of it are more common in certain neighborhoods, yes, but the gropers, flashers, masturbaters, etc. haven't been confined to any particular 'hood and nothing in the culture of the Crown Heights I know excuses sexual assault no matter who the victim is.
  • I agree with what most of the posters say here like  Whynot and nothinlikeabklyngirl.  

    I have lived in Brooklyn my whole life.  I have been verbally harassed numerous times.  I have been groped twice.  Once on a crowded subway and another time in the Boro Park neighborhood, whose crime rate is extremely low.  I handled it much differently than the author, but I have never had any type of "physical" sexual harassment in this neighborhood.  


  • ]That said, what's so troubling -- as both the response article and whynot point out -- is the implication that a sexual assault that happened to happen here is a consequence of, or to be expected from, living here and the assumption that the neighborhood tolerates it. I don't think location had much to do with it; in my experience verbal street harassment and the tolerance of it are more common in certain neighborhoods, yes, but the gropers, flashers, masturbaters, etc. haven't been confined to any particular 'hood and nothing in the culture of the Crown Heights I know excuses sexual assault no matter who the victim is.



    Exactly. The article gets points deducted for its execution. :)
  • My experience is that the largest percentage of sexual assaults of the type she experienced happen in the subways, mostly near stops that are very crowded like Union Square, Times Square, 59th Street, etc. It's interesting to me that several years ago when women were routinely being assaulted and raped in the Park Slope/Greenwood Heights/ Sunset Park area it wasn't an indictment of the neighborhood or the people that lived there. The other thing that's interesting was that she described her attacker as being Latino, in a neighborhood that has a small to non-existant Latino population, and yet this crime is somehow reflective of all of the people that she comes into contact with in the neighborhood who are not Latino and who have not accosted, attacked or harassed her.
  • Yes, as I recall, the press constantly pointed out (or seemed to imply) that the Park Slope incidents were caused by "people not from the neighborhood". 

    In contrast, this article seems to imply the offender is not only a part of the neighborhood, but may represent it. 

    Crown Heights DOES have a higher crime rate than many places in the city, but those who have lived "here" for a while don't like being painted by one large brush.

    ...regardless of whether we are the same color as the assaulted or the assaulter.



  • A group called "hollaback" had this to say about the NYT article.
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    What's the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders. It's a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators -- especially of white women....

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