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Home From the Editor To the Editor: Larchmont and White Privilege

To the Editor: Larchmont and White Privilege

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?

Anna Robling
Larchmont

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Super Confused
Super Confused
14 days ago

You mention everyone else’s issues, yet your family wanted to “Preserve Larchmont” by posting a placard in your front yard. Take a look in the mirror before you paint an entire town with a broad stroke of ‘ignorance, hypocrisy, and hate’.

Jim Coleman
Jim Coleman
23 days ago

You have lived a life sheltered in a community of the haves as opposed to the have nots. You have no idea what it is truly like in the world. People like you believe everything that you see on the various types of media outlets. Racism is not only a white disorder. I am a white male of Irish and English descent and grew up in the Morris Park section of the Bronx and later moved into this community when I got married. Growing up in the Bronx, my family and I were victims of racism by various races and ethnicities. My sister was robbed twice and sexually assaulted and called a white whore. My older brother was attacked and almost killed by a black crowd of adolescents for being white. My younger brother was also robbed by a group of blacks. I myself have been a victim of attempted robbery. My years of martial arts was my solitude that helped me defend myself and quickly escape. My Aunt was also assaulted and robbed by young blacks and called derogatory comments related to her Hispanic heritage. But do I judge all blacks by the actions of a few. No, I absolutely do not. There are over 750,000 full time police in the this country. They have well over 10 million incidents with all types of people every day. That adds up to hundreds of billions of public interactions in a year, possibly 1 trillion. If the police practice systematic injustice wouldn’t there be more violence perpetuated by the police in a year than what we see. Yes there is racism in the police department. I have been a victim of it myself as a white male and so has my wife. But do I judge them all on the actions of a few? No, I do not. What I am saying is that there is racism. Its just not one sided. All racism needs to end.

GP
GP
26 days ago

Larchmont is cool. Let’s look into Harrison. That town is full of hate, and ignorance. Lousy check out their Facebook page or school system. No teachers of color, if you’re a person of color you’re a target.

I live in mamaroneck and my kids went and are still attending school in mamaroneck. We love our town. I know ignorance is everywhere and parents don’t teach kids how to respect people but Larchmont problem is small in comparison to Hateful Harrison.

Mrs. Soldier of Love
Mrs. Soldier of Love
26 days ago

Dear Residents of Larchmont,
Please take a moment to understand what is going on in today’s society. Black ppl are not looking for sympathy they are demanding Respect. Please teach your children that black ppl are not dangerous. Think about this, why have a black Nanny but no black friends? If you trust a black Nanny or housekeeper why not trust blacks in general. Black ppl didn’t lynch, enslave, rape, whip, kill, segregate, etc white ppl. I believe all they want is equality. There has been hundreds of police killings or excessive force committed on blacks of all ages. Are you afraid for you children, siblings, nieces and nephews when they leave the house? Well black ppl are. Larchmont Residents, instead of being defensive, do nothing and keep your thoughts to yourself because children are listening. And if you want to make a change, just acknowledge what black people are going through…be open minded. Speak up! Lastly, everyone please keep in mind that blacks helped build this country. Racism is taught! Every race has a few bad apples but we cannot label everyone the same. May God guide Us all through this rough change of Life. Hate make ppl old before their time, miserable and Ugly. Stay Positive! You can do it!

John
John
25 days ago

Mrs. Soldier of Love…

From 2017 to now, 755 blacks have been the subject of police deadly use of force. In that same time frame, 1398 white have suffered the same fate. Last year, in 2019, there were 1004 police deadly use of force incidents. Of those 1004, only 41 were “unarmed”. Of those 41, 19 were white and 9 were black. Now you can go look at the numbers in regards to the percentages and numbers of violent crime offenders. Facts matter.

Janet O'Hare
Janet O'Hare
24 days ago
Reply to  John

One fact is the proportion of brown vs white people in the population. There are more white people on welfare after all. You are including Latinos and other dark people in your numbers right? It’s not just deadly police force. It is the exhausting inescapable toll of being at suspiciously and the “do you really belong here?’ messages and always being in fear.

I think the Civil Rights movement made a group of white people aware of Jim Crow. It seems this iteration of the Black Lives Matter movement is making a group of white people aware of racism and it’s effects on body and soul…on all of us.

The hostility engendered by a fairly mild article about obvious truths is distressing. Unquestioning privilege causes soul damage.

Janet O’Hare, LCSw

Rick Delmar
Rick Delmar
27 days ago

This recent Letter to the Editor asked residents of Larchmont to rethink their privilege in light of the recent political climate. I find it highly offensive that we’re asked to change who we are, our very character, our identity. No one disagrees that black lives matter. But, should asking us to change the nature of our community be the correct response?

Larchmont is overwhelmingly White and wealthy. Let’s start by saying there is nothing wrong with either of these things. Wealthy White people built Larchmont and made a community here. They should be proud of what they have. It’s no coincidence that Larchmont is virtually free of violent crime. The fact that Larchmont was spared during the recent riots and looting is a testament to the community built here by White residents. Everyone who has resided in Larchmont should feel privileged for the opportunity they have had to live here –except for the high taxes. But is it our obligation to offer that same opportunity to everyone? Does everyone get to live in Larchmont? Would everyone want to?

I can’t speak for all communities, but I do know that when Whites move to inner cities they are seen as ‘gentrifiers’ – outsiders ruining the character of the neighborhood. You have to be quite arrogant to think that your ‘privilege’ gives you the ability to turn any community into some multiracial utopia. People of color are more then welcome to buy or rent property in the affluent liberal White community of Larchmont. Perhaps they’d rather live among their own and work to improve the quality of life there.

No one asked us to vote on the sweeping demographic changes that have occurred over the last 60 or so years in the U.S. Now they’re asking us to ‘do our part’ – rename our parks, tear down our statues, rewrite our history, erase who we are. Should we rename Manor Park? After all, the word ‘Manor’ has feudal colonialist connotations. Has anyone stopped to ask how many lives will be improved by all this rapid change? None of this virtue signaling seems to be about improving lives at all. Instead it’s about propping up the latest political movement.

Be proud of who you are, Larchmont.

Emmalie Tello
Emmalie Tello
26 days ago
Reply to  Rick Delmar

Hello Rick,

Unfortunately, much of the responsibility you are placing on the BIPOC community is not as much their choice as it seems to you. While you may not feel individual obligation to open up your town, and to whether or not it is your obligation to — if not current residents, then who? You say “perhaps they’d rather live among their own and work to improve the quality of life there.” However, when a community is systemically divided by upbringing and opportunity, it becomes barring and hard to infiltrate; that segregation comes not from free choice, but from unbalanced income, discomfort in a community of people predominantly unlike oneself, and, overall, as an effect of white supremacy. Whether or not someone may want to live in Larchmont is a personal question, but whether or not they should be welcomed is, in my opinion, an obvious yes.

It is wonderful to take pride in your community. However, non-violence and other triumphs have much more to do with resources and capital available than it does with the community make-up of specifically white residents. You clearly recognize the privilege of living in Larchmont, but that comes from a long systemic line of opportunities for prosperity awarded because of whiteness. White folk are in the place of power to make these changes. And those changes do not erase history; they will only create a more safe, vibrant, and positive community that you can continue to be proud of.

All best,
Emmalie Tello
Westchester Resident

Judy
Judy
26 days ago
Reply to  Rick Delmar

Ricky, a little historical context might help.

What we know as Larchmont Manor was once the Palmer Plantation, where enslaved people supplied the labor for generations of slave-holding members of the Palmer family.

The iconic Manor House at the head of Prospect Avenue, whose land was divided up to create the Larchmont Manor housing development, was owned by Peter Jay Munro, another enslaver.

Palmer, Munro, Gedney, Richbell, DeLancey, Mott, Merritt, Griffin – recognize these place names? All names of enslavers living in Mamaroneck Township, a part of which became Larchmont Village in 1891.

For more complete information, go to http://mamaroneckhistory.org/1725-2/

Carla V. Former Mamaroneck resident
Carla V. Former Mamaroneck resident
22 days ago
Reply to  Judy

BOOM!!! There it is right there!! Thank you Judy for schooling our friend Rick over there! He’s got a lot of learning of Black history to catch up on.

John Doe
John Doe
27 days ago

The ugliest side to the community of Larchmont is the rate in which we churn out kids who lack proper life skills. Here is a perfect example, a “freelance journalist” unable to find success in the real world and lashing out like a spoiled child. Lecturing about things in which she has no idea or experience. But frustrated by so much. And then lays this at the feet of everyone else to solve, paralyzed to take any other action or lead by example. If this was my child I would be embarrassed, not because they are speaking up, but because this is not speaking up….this is virtue signaling and frankly it’s a waste of everyone’s time

Frank Heck
Frank Heck
27 days ago
Reply to  John Doe

Mr. Doe,

Yes, the lack of proper life skills is a problem with the community. Useful life skills such as respect, and honor are thrown right out the window and replaced with entitlement. That’s the problem with this generation, they believe that everything belongs to them. Sitting in their chairs, attacking the character of others instead of listening to their ideas. It makes me sick.

– Frank

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