Posted on July 25, 2020

Living White in New York City

Ed Gee, American Renaissance, July 25, 2020

This is part of our continuing series of accounts by readers of how they shed the illusions of liberalism and became race realists.

For me, race realism is something which has evolved by stages over fifty years. Living in New York City, I have had many opportunities to interact with people who are different: as neighbors, at work, in community groups, in Church. Coming from an idyllic, almost 19th-century, New England background when we still had our majestic elm trees, I had a lot to learn. Gradually, I have taken off the rose-colored glasses and learned to be practical about who has my best interests in mind. This is not a matter of seeing enemies everywhere, but simply being realistic about what to expect in any given situation.

During the Rockefeller years in New York, I went through a rather ambitious altruistic phase, using my training as an architect for what I thought was the “common good.” I worked for the New York State Urban Development Corporation, which built 35,000 well designed, affordable houses all across New York State between 1968 and 1974. That was a very idealistic time when we thought that a fresh, clean environment could help to solve the many pressing social (i.e. racial) problems of the day. I would travel to places which might not be safe, tempting fate in what I thought was a good cause. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech was still ever-present in my thinking.

Today, that dream is struggling, and my altruistic impulses have been replaced with a strategy of avoidance. A prudent “social distancing” policy seems best. There are some who say that it is the altruism of the “Great Society” which has caused so much difficulty, creating a permanent underclass that is work-averse with a tendency toward aggression and rule breaking. The young non-whites who grew up exclusively in post-Civil Rights America have no problem being surly and rude to me as I check out my groceries and run errands. They chatter away as the automatic scanner does the thinking. I find myself being excessively polite to compensate for the dead air, hoping to avoid any unnecessary trouble in the transaction.

In occasional social gatherings in New York, I have met black women who had exceptional opportunities getting an education, some in the Ivy League. Yet they seem to see nothing positive in their situation. Instead, they focus on grievances and victimhood. I have found it best to avoid women of this mindset, as my very existence is an issue for them, and conversation only causes further distress for them and me. One of them even taunted me once, saying she would volunteer to be my token black friend.

Meanwhile, the clergy in my 85 percent white church bully the congregation with cries of racism, replacing the theology of original sin with Leftist guilt mongering. So as not to be disruptive with my unfashionable opinions, I avoid the “shame and blame” events they have called, “Facing Racism.” Instead, I share my views privately with the few people who are willing to take the time to engage in dialogue. The Women’s Group likes to indulge in endless criticism of their evil menfolk (“the white patriarchy”), but they choose not to see themselves beheaded in some recent paintings of “empowered” black women. They do not see that “virtue signaling” is a fool’s errand. As “privileged” white women, they too are not trusted, even when they march in the streets.

Now, New York City has a Schools Chancellor focusing almost exclusively on the needs of black and brown students. It is considered a problem that whites and Asians get good grades or are considered gifted or talented. White people are criticized for being too well mannered and for obeying rules of behavior which are too limiting for others who have a more “robust” public personas. Teachers can just call the ambulance if blood is drawn in the classroom.

I try to avoid being out and about in the mid-afternoon when these same children are getting out of school. Some of these teenagers take advantage of recent changes in the law that make “petty” crimes go practically unpunished in the name of racial equity. Not too long ago I had an unpleasant encounter with a knife wielding pick-pocket. I have developed the habit of looking behind me every now and then, a practice that wasn’t necessary during the city’s salad days. Columbia University just hired my local police precinct chief to be head of its campus security force, and it’s in one of the “best” neighborhoods in town. The pedagogy of universities isn’t what it used to be either. Western Civilization is on the outs in our curriculum as much as our streets.

Withdrawing to avoid confrontation in today’s politically charged environment is not an ideal solution. But hopefully, it will buy time for reflection to find a productive way forward.