It is the policy of theLoop to accept Letters to the Editor from all readers without regard to opinion, politics or observations.
To the Editor:
A letter to white residents of Larchmont
I haven’t spent more than a few weeks at home in three years. Then the pandemic struck. I was furloughed from my job in Alta, Utah and denied unemployment insurance. I didn’t receive a stimulus check because I was claimed as a dependent last year. But it’s fine. I don’t have any expenses. I don’t have student debt and I’m still on my parents’ health insurance. I would be screwed if I was your average American, homeless and unemployed with only $500 in their pocket. But I’m not because I grew up in Larchmont.
I think we can all connect with feeling grateful to have places like Manor Park to help us cope with feelings of grief and uncertainty. Every day, I listen to NPR while I soak in the suburban wilderness. My peaceful morning walks have been a source of solace. Then, George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer. I was on the corner of Larchmont Avenue and Cherry Avenue when George Floyd’s plea for his life pierced my ear drums. The man charged with murder knelt on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while George Floyd begged for his life. The peace of my morning walks is no longer comforting. It is a disturbing reminder of the whiteness of the community that made me who I am today.
Mamaroneck School District is being sued for “pervasive racism”. I am not surprised. The opening sentence of a June 1st Loop article covering the lawsuit reads, “The racial unrest dividing the nation has not spared the Mamaroneck School District.” In what alternate reality would we be spared? This is not politics, it is data. It is the lived experience of Larchmont residents like me who are just fine even when everything goes wrong. It is the tranquility of Manor Park while cities are under curfew and on fire. A tacit agreement of willful ignorance dominates this predominately liberal, white and wealthy community.
Children from Central School, Chatsworth Avenue, Mamaroneck Avenue, and Murray Avenue elementary schools matriculate into Hommocks Middle School in sixth grade. I went to all girl’s Catholic school in Greenwich, Connecticut for a year. It was 2008. We had a mock election. John McCain won. Many of my classmates asked me how I could vote for Obama when he would “take all of my parents’ money away.” When I returned to Hommocks for seventh grade, I was relieved to be in a less homogenous place where my peers didn’t make fun of me for supporting Barack Obama. Still, even in a place where the other kids’ parents voted like mine did, whiteness percolated in classrooms and hallways. Even with a black president.
The history curriculum at Mamaroneck High School is progressive compared to others throughout the United States. But the same white boys singing the n-word at parties were the same ones making discussing America’s “broken” past in Advanced Placement US History. The broad scope of the peers I went to parties with during high school had gone to either Chatsworth or Murray Avenue. The name of a GroupMe with about forty members of MHS Class of 2015 remains “don’t call the cops”. The only reason someone would imagine calling the cops was for help if someone had alcohol poisoning. All of us drank underage and some of us got caught. The biggest consequences we could imagine were rescinded college applications or the wrath of our coaches. People feared for their reputations and resumés, not their lives.
That’s because the average income in Larchmont is $313,568. According to Census data, 90% of residents are white. I’m sure many residents work very hard to earn that money. But those earnings are enabled by a system that accrued wealth from zero-cost enslaved labor. The only expense, of course, was and continues to be black lives.
When I settled in at Tufts, I was immediately exposed to the narratives of privilege. I quickly learned to make jokes about being from the lame suburbs when people asked me where I was from; to show them that I knew they knew. I started to confront where and what I came from and it made me deeply uncomfortable. This discomfort translated into anger and resentment; it made me want to run even further away. I felt powerless and confused. But I’m not running anymore.
Avoidance and escapism enable white supremacy to continue. We must confront what we are in denial about, the awareness that our powerful community is complicit in allowing white supremacy to flourish. Covert racism that is “socially acceptable” is one of the most powerful tools of white supremacy. There are very few opportunities to bear witness to overt racism in our community because it is so white.
It is easy to feel powerless right now, but feelings are not facts. The truth is, none of us in this community are powerless. Larchmont’s demographics actually make us disproportionately powerful. To acknowledge this power would mean taking responsibility. Attempting to take responsibility means risking failure. But we can always begin again because we have our lives. The thing is, no life matters in America until black lives matter. Black lives matter will not matter unless people in positions of power take action.
Larchmont residents, it is time to admit that you’re rich and white, no matter how down to earth you claim to be or who you vote for. Let’s start talking about how we use the privilege of this community for something other than parties and profits. This is a conversation that should never end. Let’s get together and do better. Any ideas?