Does race matter?
We asked New Yorkers of all ages and ethnicities. Turns out we can't all just get along.
Wed Aug 22 2007
“Hell yeah, race matters! You don’t see no black people livin’ downtown on 34th Street in Trump Tower penthouses and shit like that. We live up in the ’hood, in Harlem and Frederick Douglass Houses, where Housing comes once a month to fix stuff. We don’t got no hot water between the hours of 3pm and 6pm. And your lights only work in the nighttime!
“As for us being segregated, I feel that it’s a good thing, because a lot of Caucasian people feel some type of way toward black people—and black people nowadays, they don’t give a shit. But I don’t give a fuck, shit. Black, white, Puerto Rican, Mexican—you harm me, it’s goin’ down. Race nothin’.”
“I love everybody! It doesn’t really matter what you are. I love everybody! Although we don’t need a black President. And I work with Muslims—they’re okay. Sometimes they’re assholes, like everybody else.”
“A black President? I’m not being racist about it, but we need a white guy. Why? Because, yo, they seem to know how to get the job done. I mean, look at Newark—Iraq got more sense than Newark.”
“Race matters because of all the social-economical issues that are going on in the city. I have to buy from Koreans, Koreans have to rent from Jews, Jews are charging crazy rent, and the Koreans are charging crazy prices—so my profit goes down!”
“To me, race doesn’t matter. But it does to most people. My landlord asked me to move out, saying that the people I bring home ‘bring down the neighborhood.’ I bring one person home: my boyfriend—he’s African-American. My name is a Hispanic name, but I look white. When we walk down the street, the white men give him dirty looks, and the black women give me dirty looks. It’s upsetting.”
Insurance agent, Brooklyn
“I can pass for multiple things. I have black, white and Native American blood. When I was at school in Florida, I got called a nigger. And when I got to school here, where the majority was black, I got called a cracker. So I experienced both, on both sides. So yeah, racism still exists. And honestly, if I was sitting next to an Arab on a plane, I would be nervous. I hate to say it, but I would.”
“A black President? I feel the same way about a woman president. If they’re just as qualified, if our country’s ready, that’s the point. But I absolutely don’t think we’re ready. That’s why I’m like, God, can we get a white male Democrat just so we can have a Democrat in office?”
“New York, I don’t think race matters. I’ve never felt discriminated against. I think New Yorkers are pretty educated, and tolerant.”
“I’m Brazilian. But if there is an option for Latino, then I’m Latina. If it’s between Hispanic and white, then I’m white, because I’m a white Brazilian.
“Whenever I find other Brazilians or Latinos, I’m always like, ‘Hey, guys! What’s going on? Let’s hang out. Let’s go eat our food or listen to our music.’ I think that’s okay as long as that’s not the only group of people you hang out with.”
“To me, at the age of 52, I’ve learned over the years that race is less and less significant. But the n-word is disgusting. I despise it completely. I see kids today on the subway, and they use it to identify with one another, and the word—it’s just beneath even the worst person on this earth.”
“People shouldn’t be racist, because it hurts other people and makes them think that people hate them.”
“Race doesn’t matter to me, like, in my own personal beliefs, but in the world around me, I can see it matters in society. Look at the way Muslims are treated. You can’t meld a whole culture into one event. It would be like being biased against all Germans for the Holocaust!”
“Black people won’t be able to handle a black President! Everything is George Bush this, or white President this, you know? If they have a black President in office, who are black people gonna blame next?”
“Yes, it’s the elephant in the room, still, when it comes to black and white. It’s said that race doesn’t matter, but it does. Light-skinned blacks have more opportunities than dark-skinned blacks, Puerto Ricans think that they’re better than Mexicans. Race does matter. Whether you’re a good Muslim or a bad Muslim, you’re going to be perceived as a threat.”
“I am a Muslim. People don’t even know which country I come from. People need to understand the differences between the different Middle Eastern countries, and not to judge based on just being Middle Eastern.”
“I’m from Sweden, and people’s opinions have changed since 9/11; people are more afraid. You’re influenced by everything you hear. I try not to, but of course you do, even when you think you don’t.”