Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

NYT Reporter Elizabeth A. Harris: Asian Americans Don’t Count

Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times

Elizabeth Harris, a New York Times reporter, offended Asians everywhere with her story about the Upper East Side in Manhattan.

Hear ye, hear ye: Let the celebration begin! Elizabeth A. Harris, a New York Times reporter, proclaims that Asian-Americans are not minorities in the United States. Even if they were, they’re so marginal a group they don’t count.

In a poorly researched and grammatically deficient New York Times article,Harris laments that the Upper East Side is a racist cauldron of wealthy, elitist white people.

The piece, entitled “A Stubborn Racial Disparity in Who (sic) Calls the Upper East Side Home,” claims minorities are barred from buying apartments there.

Citing a study by the Brookings Institution, Harris notes that few African-Americans and Hispanics reside in the tony Upper East Side.

Poor, misguided Elizabeth writes:

“This metropolitan area is actually one of the most segregated in the country in terms of where people live. A study of the country’s 100 largest metro areas, released last year by the Brookings Institution, found that the New York area was the second most segregated for black people (Milwaukee was No. 1) and the third most segregated for Hispanic and Asian residents.”

She then proceeds to support her contention by quoting African-Americans who insist they get mistaken for housekeepers and nannies when they walk around the UES and as a result, prefer to live elsewhere, like Brooklyn or Harlem. I’m sure Brooklynites love the idea that minorities live there because they were “rejected” by their first choice.

Harris omits to interview any Asian-Americans in her piece, notwithstanding the fact that there are people like me, a Korean-American, who live in the kind of UES building she claims is racist and segregated. In my co-op building alone, there are several Asian-American residents, most of whom have lived here many years (one owns two separate units and has lived in the building for 30 years).

Harris then claims she spoke with real estate agents who anonymously assert that some UES co-op boards discriminate against African-American buyers. That notion might support her speculative claim the UES is crawling with racist white people, but then she points out that Jews (aren’t most white?) are also discriminated against in the UES real-estate shell game (because, you know, there are no Jews on the UES).

She writes: “While they are prohibited from making discriminatory decisions, real estate professionals say some Upper East Side co-ops have a reputation for rejecting black buyers — and in some cases, Jewish buyers — even if they seem perfectly qualified.”

While Harris might have been hoping to pen an incisive exposé on racism, what she ends up with is a jumbled mess of generalizations perpetuating racist clichés and in the process discounts an entire ethnic group/demographic. Thanks, Liz. Keep fightin’ the good fight, sister.

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