Today we have two yes TWO debuts from guest bloggers. First up is a stellar piece on Ghosting by Rhythmic Journey. Like and share of course.
Ghosting: Lessons from the American Apartheid
Apartment hunting in N.Y.C. was the one thing that set me back in “my place.” Most New Yorkers want to pretend that we do not live in a segregated city but most Black people know where they are not welcomed. I can name more than a few neighborhoods where it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how good your credit is, once you meet the owner of your would-be apartment, you will know if you are welcomed in that neighborhood or not.
I spent months looking for a safe place to live in Brooklyn, I recently got married and it was time for us to move closer to work/ school and out of our parents basement; free food and rent free is great, but having your own space is so much better. Since my husband and I have only lived in private homes it was important to us to live in a home rather than an apartment building. We found a nice place in the Mapleton section of Brooklyn; 10 minutes to work and 10 minutes to school, a nice quiet neighborhood, tree-lined block, 6-unit multi family home with a live in owner and we would be on the first floor- the perfect place. We had a wonderful conversation with the broker the night before, setting up the time and the place to meet, going over my credit score, work history, and salary- we were all set, even the owner was excited. It took us less than an hour to make the drive from Nassau County to our first meeting; we had a half an hour to spare so we took a walk around the neighborhood. We ran into the broker on our way back and everything seemed perfectly fine until I reached that evergreen colored door. The owner of the building, a short middle-aged White- Latina woman took one look at me and my husband and said “So sorry, I just rented the apartment- they left 5-minutes before you got here.” We were not welcomed there.
Of course the broker, a nice middle-aged Greek woman, was embarrassed and apologized profusely it eventually got annoying because she wasn’t the one that wronged us. Explaining to us that this often happens and that owners of private homes tend to go through multiple brokers so she promptly showed us to a few other listings in the area. Of course they were not in a private homes and way above our budget but at least we had the opportunity to see how the other half lives. Along the way to expensive apartment number three the owner of the green doored home called to apologize to the broker and to send her deepest apologies to us. Later that evening we received our final call from the broker, for yet another apology as well as thank us for being so gracious. This was the first of many of these type of meetings.
Apartment hunting is riddled with questions I know I get but non- Blacks do not- “Are you in a program?” and my favorite “ You do know that you need good credit to get this apartment right?.” It makes me want to ask- “Do White people not get section-8 or other housing programs?” and “Do you realize that what you said was racist?.” One of my friends suggested that I ghost for a new apartment. For those unfamiliar with the term- ghosting is when you have a white person pretend to be you during the first interview with the owner or broker so you can get an apartment in your desired neighborhood. She suggested it because my name sounded white and I looked white on paper- it is true, I am a chocolate skinned descendant of German Jews (fourth generation by my count) with an equally German sounding first and last name (only my middle name would give ‘it’ away) and a credit score to match. My major issue with ghosting is I shouldn’t have to do it and why would I want to pay rent to someone who I had to ghost for. I would love to believe what the gentrifying yuppies love to believe; that we live in a post-racial society of economic inequality but my darkness tends to shed the light on the American Apartheid anywhere I go.