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In Brooklyn, White People Problems v. Nonwhite People Problems
The New York Times devotes ample coverage to the Brooklyn versions of what comedian Louis CK would scoff at as White People Problems, such as getting your child into the right enrichment programs in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods:
By SONI SANGHA
The first parent lined up at 4 a.m. on a Sunday, when the only other people around were out just long enough to stumble from warm taxis through sobering 19-degree air into their homes.
Twenty minutes later, other parents showed up and a line began to form down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. One father kept a list so that anyone searching for a thawing hot coffee could do so without losing a place in the line. He abandoned that project as more and more people trickled in and the end of the line was no longer visible from the front.
Some parents stood, shimmying and hopping to keep warm. A few line veterans brought chairs and buried themselves under blankets. It was too dark to read, so they chatted about things like schools or children, and they poked fun at one another for being there. Every few minutes, someone would check his watch and express the hope that Carmelo the Science Fellow would open his doors early for his annual summer camp registration.
If waiting in line in the predawn of a January morning for science camp registration sounds crazy, you do not have a New York City child born after 2004. For those children and their parents, especially in the neighborhoods of brownstone Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and the Upper West Side, not getting into activities, classes, sports teams — and even local schools — has become a way of life. If every generation must have its own designation, call theirs Generation Waiting List.
Looking for a spot in a public prekindergarten program in Lower Manhattan? Put your name on the waiting list.
Ballet for 3-year-olds at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Fort Greene, Brooklyn? The class is full, but they do have a waiting list. ...
Besides population density, social mobility drives the waiting lists in certain neighborhoods, said Tamara Mose Brown, a sociologist who teaches at Brooklyn College. It is no longer a given that people who came to the city from the suburbs as single adults will return to them when they have families, she said. Those who stay tend to settle in neighborhoods where people are similarly educated and share like values. They want their children to experience the diversity and spontaneity of the city, but they also want to control the youngsters’ exposure to those things by keeping them within a neighborhood bubble.
The more people bump into one another, the more ingrained a family becomes into a community and the more information will be exchanged about classes, or public schools. Those connections create cultural capital that helps families socially advance in their worlds. But it also puts them into competition for the limited number of slots for the most highly sought-after activities.
And then there are the Brooklyn versions of Nonwhite People Problems, as seen in this popular video from a not rapidly gentrifying neighborhood:
In an encounter that was caught on a cell phone camera, Charles Bunn said he was attacked by two teenaged girls, one of whom said she was pregnant.
By MICHAEL WILSON
“You could have at least said, ‘Excuse me.’ ”
And with those eight words, it was on.
The No. 3 train had pulled into the Utica Avenue stop in Brooklyn that afternoon, Jan. 24, and several passengers rushed to board the waiting No. 4 train, among them a 55-year-old man and two teenage girls. On this, everyone agrees.
The man, Charles Bunn, said one of the girls bumped into him. He was annoyed, and after he took his seat and saw the two girls sitting across from him, he spoke those eight words.
As Mr. Bunn tells it, the friend of the girl who bumped him stood up and screamed to her that she didn’t have to say anything, and then turned on Mr. Bunn.
“They both jumped up, and then I jumped up, and that’s when the tussle started,” he said.
A few moments later, someone else on the train started recording the fight on a cellphone. The video, which made its way online, shows the two girls raining punches on Mr. Bunn, while he crouched with his coat pulled over his head, unable to swing. The coat was yanked away, and Mr. Bunn threw a few punches of his own that he said did not connect. It is hard to tell on the video. “I was swinging just to back them off,” he said.
Another man broke up the fracas, and one of the girls, Chantelis Solano, 18, sat down, clearly flustered on the video. She stripped off her coat and yelled something that sounded, on the video, an awful lot like the word “pregnant.”
Mr. Bunn seemed to answer, incredulously, “You’re pregnant?”
It was true. “I had just found out,” Ms. Solano said later in an interview. She and her friend were traveling to the Bronx for a sonogram, she said. And yet, even after the fight had been broken up, she stood and baited Mr. Bunn, saying, “C’mon,” and “Try me.” He did not respond.
All three got off the train at Franklin Avenue. The girls, shouting and cursing, pursued Mr. Bunn as he walked away. Everyone agreed there were more punches, and Mr. Bunn dropped some papers. He picked them up and walked away, the girls following him. The train, and the person filming the fight, departed.
The last thing Mr. Bunn needed was to get caught hitting someone, especially a girl. “I have to suck up a lot of things now,” he said later. “I’m amazed I didn’t do what I wanted to do.”
He had been released from prison just a month earlier, his fourth time behind bars upstate. He had two bad habits. One was cocaine. The other was walking out of the flagship Macy’s department store with merchandise he had not paid for.
Police officers saw the end of the scuffle on the platform and arrested the girls. Mr. Bunn was treated for scratches and cuts at a hospital. “My pride was shot,” he said. “They’re girls.”
Ms. Solano said she spent a couple of days in jail. She and her friend, Shaquana Rhem, have been charged with assault, harassment and, for striking Mr. Bunn with a purse, possession of a weapon. It was not Ms. Solano’s first time; she has a pending case involving an assault in Westchester County two years ago, she said.
I don't think Louis CK quite grasps how, in America, White People Problems are interrelated with Nonwhite People Problems.