“I have been thinking about your ideas on race for a few hours. It is really very refreshing to hear you speak so openly about it and I hope I can use this opportunity to explore my thought. Long Island, it seems to me, is not so diverse or progressive. There are many different kinds of people here, but our communities are clearly divided along racial and ethnic lines. I would like to believe that these divisions are mostly a function of economic realities and that our our communities are stratified by income and social status, not race. For one reason or another, for example, blacks and latinos on Long Island have not enjoyed (overall) the level of economic prosperity found in the more affluent neighborhoods, such as Northport or Huntington (by the water). Yet, we both know this is not the full story. My ex grew up in huntington in a community that is now mostly populated with people of color. Her parents, her purchased their home new in 1963, remain. The community is very nice, the homes are lovely...yet the home values there are significantly lower than comparable homes in northern part of Huntington, despite having the same school district. My father in law, mostly a sweet old man who immigrated from Sicily, summed it for me in his broken English: "for me there is no reason to move. my neighbors are good people who keep their home very nice. But, nothing destroys a neighborhood like a Nigger. Once one moves in, thats the end of the neighborhood". I hope you dont mind the plain and ugly language...just being true to the facts. What is amazing to me is that he recognizes that his neighborhood, now a place of color, is very nice....he still believes that neighborhoods of color are not good. Despite having personal information to the contrary, his beliefs are his beliefs. To an extent, many of us operate this way. We are most comfortable with those who look like us, sound like us. I suppose I am not so different. I don't know many black people at all...I simply have not had many opportunities in my daily life to interact with people of color. I have a colleague at work who I admire. Yes, George is black. We work closely together since he and I are the core of the NY "team". He is an amazing colleague; smart, dedicated, a teacher and a leader, and always at my back. Honestly, I have worked with many people but have had very few opportunities for a black male peer...in many ways the experience has opened my eyes to the limits of my past experiences and also opened my heart. We are about the same (within a year or two) and are both fathers to 2 young children. We have spoken over the past 4 years as men. We really connect, yet there is somehow an invisible wall between us. It is hard to describe..like there is something about his experience that he is not comfortable discussing. Do you experience this in your friendships or associations with white people? It upsets me because I really respect and like the man and would prefer no significant or unspoken barriers. So, while there are some barriers, the relationship has also opened my heart and eyes and revealed the limitations of my experience.
I am not a social scientist. It seems to me that given opportunities for daily interaction, people of similar social economic backgrounds can easily bridge the racial divide. Sure, if low income, uneducated black people suddenly moved into Northport, I doubt understanding and acceptance would be well served. However, people in communities that are racially integrated and homogenous across social economic lines, I'd suspect understanding is better and differences seem less important. ok... these are some of my thoughts"
Soooo what are you thoughts on his email to me?