Sunday, March 30, 2014


So, after my Hunting post, someone online called me out as being racist, which was bizarre, and also a major bummer in my first few, emotionally excessive, weeks in NY. I'm not sure if it was the observation about the high volume of Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights (which is just a fact - & a fascinating one at that!), that I called East Flatbush awful (for which I apologise - see explanation below), the ridiculous map at the head of the post which was posted (if you read the whole blog) to make fun of its gross over-simplification, or my own gross over-simplification about the safety / desirability of neighbourhoods in Brooklyn (basically, the further it is from Manhattan, the more likely it is to be dangerous) - see apology below.

I think the person may have misread the tone of my blog, and misunderstood my intentions, but they were right to call me out. I don't believe any of my comments were racist (it's kind of racist to read race into my comments about neighbourhoods, but let's not go there), but I do believe I was insensitive, and for that I thank my offendee for calling me out. I found it disproportionately embarrassing (I was still pretty weepy at the time and was having some culture shock issues as it was), but I did learn from it.

I made sweeping statements about certain neighbourhoods which were intended to be an exaggerated, comical depiction of the ups and downs of NY apartment hunting. I do see how those sweeping statements would be offensive to people who actually live in those areas, know people who live in those areas or make a living in those areas. I also see how my statements may reinforce annoying stereotypes that inhabitants of those areas likely spend their lives having to disprove. For that I genuinely do apologise. It annoys me when people make unintentionally condescending presumptions about South Africa (or Africa in general), but I do try to remember that I have many blind spots of my own (case in point), laugh at their ignorance and enlighten them with more accurate information. (Other times I confess I make up ridiculous stories which they will hopefully repeat to the next South African they meet...).

So I apologise for my insensitivity. I won't update my blog, because I said what I said, even if I said it badly, and I learnt from the experience. Which is what I'm here to do. I appreciate being called out on it.

Also, I love Brooklyn (all of it) and everyone who lives there. It feels far more like home than Manhattan (which is fun in a different way). I admire those who come from edgy neighborhoods (and let's be honest, some are more edgy than others), and would love to know all their stories, because I'm sure I have no idea what their lives are like. To be frank, I probably grew up quite sheltered and spoilt, but there's nothing I can do about that except try not to be ignorant about how others grew up. I'm probably also a white hipster gentrifier, but there's not much I can do to help that either, except try to be a considerate, rather than a presumptious, version of that. I do want to live in a neighbourhood where I feel my wife could walk home safely from the subway at 2AM, even though I come from a country with notorious violent crime rates (the difference is; in South Africa, we know how to be street smart. Here; we're still learning).

Anyway, as long as I'm learning, I'm grateful. If any of this came off insenstivie, let me know. I'm still learning & I want to know. Thanks for the lesson, New York!

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