The brutal reaction of police towards #occupywallstreet protestors in New York City, of campus police at UC Davis to students, and in many instances around the country have only inspired thousands more to fill American streets with their voices. That inspiration, a reawakening within the spirit and mind, is contagious – in my case, it came at a personal cost many years ago.
While Williamsburg has spent the last decade getting a face lift, Atlantic City did the same, with developers putting up towers on the waterfront. While Brooklyn got luxurious condos, Atlantic City got luxurious hotels: the Chelsea, the Borgata, the Water Club and, tallest of them all, Harrah’s. Crime and drugs are still busy in both, but hidden a few blocks in from the unsuspecting eye, and developers are falling over themselves to draw the young and the hip to the waterfront in both locations.
Apparently it’s quite controversial to discuss the experience of living in Brooklyn when it comes to the topic of race. A few weeks back, I dared to talk about it and received a lot of flack. But in my hood, Prospect Heights, and anywhere really, race, class and gentrification are heavy topics, and I’m not going to shy away from them.
On a recent chilly night, I was bundled up and on my way to Boerum Hill to have dinner at a friend’s apartment. As I walked down Washington Avenue the B45 bus pulled up next to me, and I hesitated. “Which would be faster, the train or the bus?” I thought. Before I could make a decision, the bus doors had shuttered. Luckily, the light at Atlantic and Washington was still red and I approached the bus and knocked on the door. The driver, a middle-aged African-American man, refused to open the door, gesturing to the next stop, three street crossings away, even though his bus was still idling perfectly in front of a designated stop. It was 15 degrees outside and I’ll admit it, I felt like the driver was sticking it to me for being white.