Maybe a new generation will change, but until then I-Square or any project in Irondequoit that is accessible by bus will fail because white residents will shun it.
Patti Moore’s Oct. 11 letter makes some important points about I-Square, but one about the Irondequoit Mall/Medley Center’s failure stands out. She says, “It was sad that certain influences in the city gave our mall a bad reputation." Can we be honest about what “certain influences” means? It means black people. Irondequoit residents abandoned their mall because they were uncomfortable around black people. Call it what you want, it boils down to racism.
I am a middle-aged white man. I moved here from New York City 21 years ago and visited for years before. To me there was nothing different about the Irondequoit Mall than other malls. I didn’t notice that not all the people were white because I came from the most diverse city in America. New Yorkers need to develop a more sophisticated sense of who is a threat and who isn’t than the color of their skin, dress, etc. If you can’t do that, you can’t live there.
White Irondequoit residents told me they didn’t go to the mall because they were afraid of blacks. Instead they drove to other malls that aren’t convenient by bus. Places on convenient bus lines are accessible to people who don’t have cars. In Manhattan that’s almost everyone. In most urban areas and suburbs bordering them, it often means poor blacks. It’s why white Greece residents don’t like buses coming to their mall. Rochester’s suburbs are overwhelmingly white. Blacks are only 7.7 percent of Irondequoit’s population. White residents want to shop where people look like them.
Police reports didn’t show greater crime at the Irondequoit Mall than others. The difference was blacks. I live two blocks from Irondequoit Plaza. A neighbor told me that when he goes there blacks give him an “attitude." I said that was strange because they don’t give it to me.
Maybe a new generation will change but until then I-Square or any project in Irondequoit that is accessible by bus will fail because white residents will shun it. They will say it’s because of “city people” or “certain influences” but what they will mean is they don’t want to be around blacks.
James P. Harte is an Irondequoit resident.