Steve Karp, American Renaissance, October 23, 2021
This is part of our continuing series of accounts by readers of how they shed the illusions of liberalism and became race realists.
I was born in the Bronx in the mid-1960s. Back then, my borough was idyllic, but that wouldn’t be the case for much longer. Three things kicked off the Bronx’s decline:
- The first was the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway, which essentially cut the Bronx into a northern and southern half. Its construction leveled many buildings, and the character of entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Those neighborhoods had been mostly populated by ethnic white immigrants and their descendants.
- The second was the construction of “the projects,” public housing designed to assist low income people. Initially, the projects were mostly white, but over time, whites moved to the suburbs, died off, or occupancy policies changed, and whites were often replaced by non-whites.
- The third was the construction of Co-op City, a multistory complex of buildings located in the Northeastern Bronx. Initially, it too was occupied by whites, but as with the projects, that quickly changed.
Throughout the 1970s, New York City saw the arrival of more and more blacks from the south, Puerto Ricans from “the island,” and Third World immigrants from all over. They filled the apartments of the south Bronx along with public housing. Crime and chaos were part of daily life in the Big Apple during the 1970s. A large building fire was broadcast live from Yankee stadium during game six of the World Series. The blackout in 1977 led to mass looting. There had been a blackout in 1965, too, but with little pandemonium. But 12 years later, demographically, the city was a different place.
All of my primary and secondary education was in the central Bronx of the 1970s and early 1980s. School districts were made up of several neighborhoods, and where you lived determined which school, from primary to secondary, you attended.
Elementary school was a ten minute walk from home. I really didn’t have any negative interactions with kids at that school. Most were white but there were some blacks and Hispanics, mostly Puerto Ricans. The kids seemed to get along with each other at that age.
By the end of first grade, my brother graduated from the same elementary school and was off to junior high. That’s when the racial change was in full force. The junior high in our district was in the north Bronx. The Italians, Irish, and Jews who had filled those neighborhoods were being rapidly replaced with non-whites. His time there was rough. When it came time for me to enter junior high, my parents hatched a plan. Being on the smaller side, compared to my brother, and with his junior high having had another five years to decay, they decided it was best to try to get me into an adjacent and less dangerous (i.e. whiter) school district.
As luck would have it, my uncle was living in that other district. I went with my father to the school’s registration office and he supplied something not quite adequate to prove our residency. The woman taking this information was obviously not wholly convinced but gave us a knowing look. It seemed to me, and from how my father described it afterward to my mother, that the secretary had seen this situation before.
Living outside the district meant a long walk through different neighborhoods. Across the street from where I lived was a large multi-story complex of city housing buildings spread over several blocks. I never walked through the complex, but always around it, though it would have been quicker to cut through. I knew it wasn’t a good idea for me — at five feet tall — to be wandering near the basketball courts where no white person was to be found.
When I began high school, the student body was majority white. But thanks to “busing” that changed over the three years I was there. The demographic change came with plenty of other changes, too. There were now full-time police inside the school and sometimes squad cars outside to boot. One time the whole school was evacuated in order to preempt a riot. I can’t remember what year all the first floor windows had gates placed on them. Visually, it gave the place a prison-like appearance. During the school day, you never ever used the bathroom because you never knew who lurked within. You either held it in until you got home or hopefully you had a friend who lived nearby. Near the end of my senior year there was an “emergency” auditorium meeting where it was disclosed that there were 200 students who could not graduate unless they attended summer school. I guess grade inflation was too late to help those students graduate on time.
Years later I was reading the New York Times real estate section and it included a profile of the neighborhood where I went to junior and senior high. Extolling the virtues of the neighborhood, including livability, shopping, and transportation, the article painted a picture of nirvana. Then there came the disclosure. My junior high was closed due to poor academic performance. The senior high, though still open, had SAT scores at least 130 points per section below the state average. The recommendation: Find private schools for your kids.
If you have a story about how you became racially aware, we’d like to hear it. If it is well written and compelling, we will publish it. Use a pen name, stay under 1,200 words, and send it to us here.