Bumping into people is inevitable in New York City. Too many rushing locals, too many not-rushing tourists, and too many people who think they can write emails while they walk. But a recent collision caught in downtown Brooklyn has raised a lot of angry eyebrows today, because it resulted in a crazy rant — and a very offensive description of gentrification. It's here, if you want to watch.
The incident, obviously filmed on a smartphone, starts with a jogger getting hit by another man's stroller. The jogger blows up. By the time the video starts, a police officer is already there, standing between the two men as the yelling jogger continued to bob and weave around the officer, in order to get closer to the source of his frustration — a remarkably calm man in a polo and khakis. After insisting he "fights for a living" and expressing concern that the man's cavalier attitude with his stroller could injure his child, the jogger drops the line that propelled the fight from funny anecdote to viral video. "The only reason white people like you are living here is because I settled this fucking neighborhood for you," the jogger says while onlookers laugh. The yelling man is, himself, white. When a woman watching calls him a "sick fuck," he responds by yelling, "white privilege, white privilege." While yelling this, he remains white. A few things are worth pointing out: Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York City, with roughly 2.6 million residents. So, no, this man didn't "settle" anything; he joined an existing neighborhood. Parts of Brooklyn, including, we'd bet, this one, have been hit very hard by gentrification, which often means richer and usually whiter communities moving in and making neighborhoods less livable for the already entrenched communities. Whether or not gentrification is an inevitable part of a changing city or something that should be fought against can be debated. That attitudes like this guy's are the worst part of it is pretty certain. Appropriately, some versions of the video have been dubbed the "Christopher Columbus of Brooklyn."