Sign photographed in the window of a brownstone on Saturday, September 16, 2017, on Carlton Ave. in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. By Sunday, the sign had been taken down.

Dear Brooklyn Readers,

My original intention for this week’s letter was to just make an exciting announcement about how BK Reader now has a brand-new way to personalize your news! Now, through our partnership with Bloom, you can subscribe to receive our Sunday newsletter, which is a roundup of the news in YOUR zip code only.

Currently, our daily newsletter provides you news updates focused on the eight neighborhoods of Central and East Brooklyn, including local contributions and curated news across the rest of Brooklyn.

The Sunday newsletter provides you a truly hyperlocal overview of what happened in the week within blocks of your address. It’s a chance to catch what you might have missed with a more granular, personalized focus.

You can subscribe to receive the Sunday newsletter by clicking the Bloom teardrop found at the bottom right hand corner of any of the pages.

Then, when you click the person icon, a window will open asking you for your address and zip code. After that, all you have to do is check your inbox to confirm that you would like to start receiving our Sunday edition of news personalized just for you!

On an adjacent topic of neighborhoods and personal communication, there is more news that came to my attention recently: racism. I was reminded how racist beliefs, thoughts and actions do exist in Brooklyn and, further, can be lurking right next door.

On Saturday, one of our BK Readers in Prospect Heights posted this photo on his Facebook page of a sign that his neighbor decided to display in the window of his brownstone. According to him, this neighbor runs a bed and breakfast out of his home. So not only is this bold display of bigotry a slap in the face to the residents of color who live around him (and who he falsely deems “minorities”), it is also a gross representation of Brooklyn to those visiting the borough from out of town.

Also on Saturday, I read this headline in the New York Daily News: “Noose found hanging from tree outside Brooklyn Public Library.” According to the story, this highly visible reminder of a time when white supremacists were terrorizing and murdering black people for sport was on display in Bedford Stuyvesant outside of the Bedford branch library on Franklin Avenue, near Hancock Street. Workers at the library discovered the 6-foot noose in the courtyard at around 8:00am Thursday.

For those longtime residents who have lived for decades in Central Brooklyn and also for those who have only recently moved here in the last five years, this is a clarion call! Pick a corner!

Determine now what it is you stand for; decide now what Brooklyn means to you; choose now the type of environment in which you want to raise your children. Then… take action!

As disheartening and surprising and sad as these displays of racism may seem to some of us, there is something redeeming about incidents such as these, because… now, you know exactly who this person is in his or her heart! Clarity is a good thing. Clarity is never bad, because it helps inform your choices moving forward.

So now, what are you going to do about it? Call your city councilmember and ask for a public town hall. Form a block watch group that reports these incidents and establishes a protocol for response. Ask your child’s teacher or principal to consider including ongoing discussions about race and equity in their curriculum.

Or do what Fort Greene resident Danielle Fazzolari has done, and use your personal/professional skills to gather your neighbors together for productive sessions that aim to empower one another with positive intentions (if you have no clue what I’m referring to, read here !)

So much is changing in Brooklyn and so fast. Get to know your neighbor. A trust fund baby, a drug dealer, a Becky, a Laquisha, a liberal, a conservative, a shady character, a snob, whatever it is you’re assuming about your neighbors, don’t! Instead, get to know them.

Say “hello” when you pass them. Make eye contact. Engage them in conversation from time to time. Maybe you’ll make a friend; maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll influence someone’s opinion about politics or food or people or life! Or maybe you’ll just have someone who, in the street, looks out for the safety of your child or your car.

Some won’t engage you back, and that is fine. Don’t take it personally. They could be shy, preoccupied, private or just having a bad day, who knows! But at least with a little conversation on your part, they will know who you are and have clarity about where you stand.

And clarity is always a good thing.

Sincerely,

C. Zawadi Morris, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

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C. Zawadi Morris

C. Zawadi Morris is an award-winning journalist and a Chicago native who moved to Brooklyn in 1997. Ms. Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration (and a minor in Spanish) from...

Join the Conversation

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  1. Thank you for your clarity, insight and suggestions. We will continue to keep Brooklyn great. We are here, we are inclusive, humane, loving, and nothing can stop us. Love will prevail.

  2. Why are we surprised? It’s America. They elected a known racist into the White House. Why are people acting. Shocked? Lol

  3. Runs a bed and breakfast? Time for inspections. Put them out of business.

    Also, it’s time for all the neighbors to have a block party. Put the bouncy castle in front of their place, hire the Black cowboys to do pony rides, have group salsa lessons, and group sing-a-longs. Get an historian to speak to the crowd. Do trick and treat, and caroling at Christmas. Make the block association strong.

  4. Yes, it isracism that some of us and all of us experienced.I as a New Yorker and a Black man in Amerikkkka, have encountered Good and Bad White Amerikkkans in my life time . I am an International Trade and Travel enthusiast. However, these White Amerikkkans are diiferent from the ones that I went to High School, College and the Workforce with .First they are mostly coming from conservative ,extreme right-wing Republikkkan states such as Arizona ,Idaho the deep South and Midwestern states like Iowa.Notice that every White gentrified neighborhood there are Bars,coffee ahops ,restaurants and pizzeria’s..It is not only Bad for our health and itnis racist. Like one Bap Hipster that ran for City Council inthe 40th district stated” Buy Local”. It means only spend in the White Bars, Coffee Shops,Restaurants and Pizzeria’s. Yes, Ihave to say thatb these New White Residents are stupid, ignorant and racist in there attitude

  5. Again, from the other comment I sent. I am not White ,But Black-Bamma Man living and born in Amerikkka. So my favorite will Alwaysbe International Companies , positions, organizationsand Womrn. Simply, not White Amerikkkanfemales,Baaps ,Baps,Golden Bones and Jamerikkkans . It is understandable .yes it is racism in Amerikkka

  6. I agree with you that clarity is always a good thing and therefore I write: If someone put a sigin up (or delivered a strong message) that said “If you are black (or a minority – other than Asian) you should be standing up for yourself and yours, not patronizing non-minorities. You are being insulted by the media, etal and don’t even know it.” would you claim that person to be racist. I doubt it. I apologize if I am wrong. Al Sharpton delivered that exact same message in Harlem in the late 1980’s, helping to cause an innocent hard worker his life. David Dinkins delivered that same message in Crown Heights in the early 1990’s causing hard working Asians great damage to their livelihood. Will you be honest, consistent and non-hypocritical and call Al Sharpton, David Dinkins and many of their supporters to be racist? I live in hope. As you clearly and accurately state, “clarity is ALWAYS a good thing”. I enjoy your publication and your extremely well intended thoughts. I also spent an extremely rewarding 41 year career (1973 – 2014) at a Catholic High School in Fort Greene, spending 33 years of afternoons (1981 – 2014) in the streets after dismissal, trying hard to keep the young people safe. I would truly enjoy sitting and chatting with you someday about what would be best for Brooklyn in the years from 2017 into the future. Thank you for your work. James Dorney

    1. Hello James, great question! And I have an answer. If you’d like to leave this comment on the BK Reader FB page, I might respond. But I won’t be doing the back-and-forth commenting on the site; that is for the Readers.

    2. Sorry, you are confusing the two. There is a difference between racism and standing up for your rights. Racist are KKK, including people who hate another because of the color of their skin or religious belief. Standing up for your rights, means standing up against those who hate you for no just reason. Racism has no just reason. Hating and/or killing someone because of skin tone, religious belief, etc is immoral and sick. Al Sharpton and David Dinkins stand up against racism. They are not racist. If there were no racist attacks against blacks and minorities, there would be no need for people like Al Sharpton. Or Dr. King, Jr. Or Malcolm X. Etc.. Simple cause and effect principle–Racism is the cause and people who stand up against it (Al Sharpton, David Dinkins, etc.) are the effect. You can not have a cause without the effect. Period.

  7. A lack of clarity, and a desperate attempt to unite a community particularly from the leadership in the neighborhood is exactly what this situation reveals. They never speak up about crime in the neighborhood, address the poor public services or have an answer questions coming from those who live outside the enclave of brownstone ownership. I am just not convinced that the “new comers” are emboldened enough to put up a noose.

    I see the situation, not as “clarion” cry but an attempt at rallying the “troops” out of fear of losing its base. I find the leadership quite insular and disconnected; and experts at gas-lighting when answering a questions or just outright ignoring you if you live on the wrong block.

    Your suggestion to follow the Fort Greene example is great, but I think a neighborhood is only as responsive and united as its leadership. Where Fort Greene succeeds at being ALL inclusive to the residents of the neighborhood, Bed Stuy is not. Because of this I am skeptical of such a bold moves as putting up a noose in the heart of a Black neighborhood.
    Your suggestion to follow the example of Fort Greene is excellent, but the leadership in Fort Greene

  8. Can we step back for a minute and closely analyse the message on this poster? “If you are white, you should be standing up for you and yours, not patronizing minorities. You are being insulted by the media et al and don’t even know it.” This is NOT a racist screed. Rather, I infer, it is a critique of what the creator of the poster considers the excessive political correctness of today’s world. It is very clumsily expressed, but I don’t think the author meant to suggest that “standing up for you and yours” means — for a single minute — attacking people of color, or even privileging whites over people of color. I believe he just means don’t apologize for existing. Full disclosure: I live around the corner from this house and I know the folks who own it. This guy has been posting slightly crazy messages in his window for years now. Usually, he rails against Congress, medical insurance companies, Trump, Clinton, etc etc. He’s a harmless crank. He’s not a racist. If you want to destroy his B&B business (he’s a veteran on a fixed income), go ahead and be that kind of an ill-informed bully. But, for pity’s sake, know the facts first.

    1. And when he says, “not patronizing minorities” I believe he means, “not condescending to minorities” which is something we would all agree on, no?

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