Recently, in a speech that was supposed to celebrate Black History Month, Spike Lee went off on how his old neighborhood in Brooklyn was being transformed into a White, upscale enclave. He further complained that, when he was living there, it was a Black neighborhood with little or no police protection and, even, not enough garbage pickup.
Now, I can't speak to what Spike Lee's experience was like when he was living in Brooklyn but, like a lot of minority neighborhoods in a lot of major cities, police and other public service presence is deterred by excessive violence. In many communities, police aren't even wanted. To be sure, violence isn't just a Black neighborhood problem. Many Italian neighborhoods of the past saw mob and mafia violence that ruled those communities. And, it's this violence that resulted in many minorities, themselves, fleeing the crime ridden parts of America's cities. As a consequence, housing prices decline and the community continually sees an influx of a poorer class of people.
What Lee failed to recognize in his rant is the fact that many of his fellow Blacks, well before him, fled his old neighborhood, leaving it to more violence, lower home values and, yes, to less police protection and garbage pickup. Now, I assume that people are moving back into Spike's old haunts because the last two Mayors, Giuliani and Bloomberg, made reducing crime a hallmark of their administrations.
What Mr. Lee ought to be asking himself is why some affluent Blacks, along with all those affluent Whites, aren't moving into his Brooklyn neighborhood. Could there be some other racial prejudice going on?
Not just Spike Lee's Brooklyn: Gentrification spurs tensions nationwide: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/us/gentrification-american-cities/