The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Pain of Trump and the Fact of Hypocrisy

Many of us have suffered anxiety and anger, even depression. We've taken it personally. I have a theory about this that I'm gonna air for the sake of airing it. My own reaction to the election was fairly cynical I guess - this is what you get when you're apathetic, like George W. before Trump. Having grown up far from the glare and glamor of the coasts, I have a fairly empathetic understanding of just how BIG and WHITE and CONSERVATIVE is the United States of America. It is difficult to comprehend when you live in Central Brooklyn, where we fight each other over relatively minor issues like "how affordable is affordable housing" and it's taken for granted that we agree that the police over-extend their power and that we incarcerate WAY too many young men of color and that LGBT rights are human rights and climate change and on and on.

But here's what I think may be at the root of the very personal distress that we feel at the core of our being. And it IS personal, not just political. It's called...hypocrisy.

We're hypocrites, many of us. Like:


  • We claim to be unified against climate change but we own cars, sometimes BIG cars, and we air condition like penguins would, and practically horde plastics and some own second homes outfitted with twice the number of "things," many that are frankly superfluous, and we use water with abandon and so much more. A few of us ride bicycles, and maybe feel a bit superior? Many of us do it because we can't afford a car and parking is a bitch, and it's a forced fitness program for our lardy asses. Frankly almost all the parents I know own cars anyway, and ride bikes only occasionally.
  • We claim solidarity with worker's rights, but buy from Amazon and Uniqlo and Apple and use Uber and even Target and other companies that have actively eroded progress and depressed pay and living standards all the while forcing manufacturers to cut costs and extract greater work for less pay from foreign workers who suffer for our leisure, and we ceaselessly shop for the best bargains just to maintain our own standards of living, complaining about the rich while hording for ourselves.
  • We don't really give much to charity, let's be honest here.
  • We live segregated lives in integrated cities, and send our kids to segregated schools 
  • We say we're for affordable housing, but we won't budge on our quality of life or allow the building of new housing near us. 
  • We claim to be for housing justice, but we move into poor neighborhoods and demand services and utilize such services that actively help price people and businesses out
  • We vote the "right" way but never show up to local meetings and events that would create true partnerships between elected officials and the communities they serve
  • We do precious little to understand the people we claim we want to protect
  • We check our phones constantly, and somehow convince ourselves that's a political act
  • We argue the merits of Sanders vs Clinton, rather than working for voting rights in states where the votes really matter, regardless of whom they end up voting for, it being their choice after all
  • We argue against White Privelege, all the while using it to our advantage without so much as a blush, or even realizing it
  • We think of Trump as someone else's fault - media, FBI, Putin, social media, fake news, bigots...anyone but us.
I could go on and on.

In essence, I know precious few who live their convictions. When I meet them and talk to them, I see and hear a version of myself that could be, but isn't. Sometimes their humility is awe-inspiring. Sometimes they're just dogged and tough and hard-to-like. But they don't live like hypocrites. And perhaps, when they lie awake at night, they don't take the fact of Trump so personally. They wake up in the morning, to once again wear the mantle of resistance and progress.


Just a hunch.

5 comments:

Wes said...

Amen. Sad but every word true.

babs said...

Wow - you had me going there, but you redeemed yourself in the end (and I'd put myself in the "dogged and tough and hard-to-like" category). Deleting the entire screed I'd written, contradicting each and every one of your points as it applies to me.

And, no, I don't sleep that well at night, because a crazy person is the head of this country and is surrounded by other, more dangerous people. But I do get up and resist, as we all need to.

I know for certain sure that's not my fault (neither was Ronald Reagan, either Bush, or Bill Clinton BTW), but that doesn't mean it's not ruining the lives of people I care about.

And in the end I feel very, very sorry for the people you've described, but unfortunately I think they will get through this and go on with their clueless lives :(

Brilliant writing, BTW xoxo

D said...

While I can proudly claim from my high horse that all the other parents who choose to own a car but live close to transit in a walkable, bikeable environment are just either old-fashioned or ill-informed, you're right about all of us being hypocritical. I think that hypocrisy is a spectrum, and that we're all guilty of it in some context of our lives. It's important to be aware of it, and for us to call out both ourselves and each other from time to time.

Do keep writing. I've noticed that some of your more on-point writing tends to garner fewer comments, probably because you've said it so well already. So please don't assume that more comments = better.

Anonymous said...

We claim to be unified against climate change but we own cars, sometimes BIG cars, and we air condition like penguins would, and practically horde plastics and some own second homes outfitted with twice the number of "things," many that are frankly superfluous, and we use water with abandon and so much more.

Actions speak louder than words. NOBODY is doing anything to eliminate fossil fuels from daily living. Nobody. Why would anyone want to impose misery on himself, his family and everyone else?

Meanwhile, at least 2 billion people on Earth would leave their godforsaken homelands to escape their energy poverty and come here where we live in comfort, freed from Nature's ceaseless assaults.

We live segregated lives in integrated cities, and send our kids to segregated schools.

People do what they want. They make individual decisions. That's not the basis of segregation. The First Amendment guarantees our Freedom of Association. New York City and Chicago are two cities that have seen huge changes in their populations due to white flight. If whites don't like their neighbors, they move away. Seems pretty reasonable. Don't make trouble, just move away.

In 1955, NY City was 85% white. Now it's 33% white.

Schools? In this city, like every city, the schools are a function of their students. But one fact is certain. Schools are not segregated. Students are not corralled and separated by race. Once again, whites and asians may steer clear of schools when they sense black enrollment has reached some kind of turning point.

But there's the Gifted Program, which accepts all kids who take the test and make the cut. However, by the time high school rolls around and kids have visions of attending Stuyvesant or one of the other dozen top competitive high schools, their results on the entrance exams show who's been studying the most. Ding, ding, ding. The asian kids, by a mile. The fact that asian kids dominate and fill most of the seats in the top schools isn't due to segregation.

But Carmen Farina wants to pretend the results of the entrance test are unfair.

Anonymous said...

We claim solidarity with worker's rights, but buy from Amazon and Uniqlo and Apple and use Uber and even Target and other companies that have actively eroded progress and depressed pay and living standards all the while forcing manufacturers to cut costs and extract greater work for less pay from foreign workers who suffer for our leisure, and we ceaselessly shop for the best bargains just to maintain our own standards of living, complaining about the rich while hording for ourselves.

Or people become members of the Park Slope Food Co-op, which claims to have about 16,000 members. For a few hours of menial labor, the comrades enjoy the privilege of buying food at steeply discounted prices.

But what's the social cost? As they say, there is no free lunch. A co-op with 16,000 members, low prices and annual revenue in the neighborhood of $50 million, is an operation that has obviously crowded out the presence of at least one conventional supermarket.

How many people do not have paid positions at a typical supermarket due to the existence of the PSFC, a business that could exist on the same PSFC site?

Meanwhile, something tells me the PSFC members are also out there pounding the table for a minimum wage of $15 an hour to be paid by every employer -- except the PSFC.

Instead, the PSFC barters. Less than three hours of labor per month is exchanged for unlimited food purchases at super low prices. If the discount were quantified, how much per hour of labor would members save? A lot more than $15 for each hour worked.