While it's easy to recognize an obvious form of racism, sometimes the prejudice could be more covert. Calling out passive-aggressive racism is a brave and important thing to do, as in the case of an African-American man in Manhattan last week.
Richard Brookshire, who, according to his LinkedIn profile, is a manager for the Council of Urban Professionals, lives in the heavily gentrified neighborhood of Inwood in New York City. On Thursday morning, Brookshire received a written note from his reportedly White neighbors who live on floor below his apartment.
"Regarding last night, it is extremely rude and inconsiderate to scream and stomp around your apartment until almost 2 a.m.," the note read. "A complaint has been submitted to the management. Next time this will go straight to the police. Please learn your manners."
Brookshire immediately recognized the racial overtones in the passive-aggressive letter. He responded to the prejudice by typing a powerful response in his own letterhead and sending it to his neighbor.
In the letter, Brookshire referred to his neighbor's complaint as "improbable and juvenile," and spoke out against the subtle racism.
"As one of the only tenants of color occupying this building at full market rate, I find it personally abhorrent that you'd levy the threat of involving the authorities for an insignificant infraction such as the one you noted in your poorly written and ill-thought-out correspondence," Brookshire wrote. "As a Black man, I take these overt actions as a direct threat to my physical and psychological well-being and as an act of violence upon me."
Brookshire also added that he is submitting a formal complaint to the New York City Police Department, the American Civil Liberties Union and the District Community Board. A photo of the letter on Facebook received more than 28,000 likes.
He also posted the letter on his neighbor's door.
While not often discussed, passive-aggressive racism is very real. It is a typically a racially coded language disguised as something that on the surface seems good-mannered.
Instead of relying on passive-aggressive racism, it is best to open an honest dialogue between people about how to improve the situation for everyone. And a good place to start is by calling out subtle racism, as Brookshire did in his letter.
"I think it's worth reminding you that you currently reside in Northern Manhattan, an enclave of ethnic and racial diversity that existed in community well before your gentrifying arrival," Brookshire wrote to his neighbor. "In the words of Robert Jones, Jr., 'one of the great divides between white people and black people (or the wealthy and the not wealthy) is noise."
(H/T: Huffington Post)