On Wednesday morning, Gothamist treated New York to footage of a fight between a pair of white guys on the streets of Downtown Brooklyn. The profanity-laden confrontation apparently began when one of the white guys (let’s call him “John Khakis”) and his wife ran into the other white guy (“Joe Athletic Shorts”) with their baby carriage and failed to properly apologize. While both parties appear to be jerks, Athletic Shorts distinguished himself as the worse of the two by shouting, “The only reason white people like you are living here is because I settled this fucking neighborhood for you!” and “White privilege! White fucking privilege! You pushed your stroller right into me, and all I say was ‘excuse you,’ and then you said, ‘Fuck you fuck you!’ You fucking white trash!”
Here’s that video, in case you missed it:
While everyone probably would have been happy to never hear from Athletic Shorts again, he got in touch with Gothamist in an attempt to explain his behavior. (Gothamist agreed to withhold his full name, so we’re going to stick with the one we’ve chosen for him.) Athletic Shorts really wanted to make it clear that he was born in New York and “grew up on West 4th Street, I’ve been here from day one,” which seems intended to counter the whole “settler” narrative. He also acknowledged that he has “a temper, when I start seeing red it’s like I lose it.”
Athletic Shorts went on to say that he (as he previously put it) “settled” Fort Greene in 1997:
When I came down here, Myrtle Avenue here, it was abandoned. When I used to go down to the liquor store down there, the black people would all run, because they thought I was a cop! So when I tell you I’m having a fight about white privilege with this man, I’m slightly guilty because I’m moving in to gentrify a neighborhood, except I’m the first one here when nobody wants to live here.
Also: “My street cred, especially in the black community, in this city, is huge. I grew up on the West 4th Street basketball courts. I grew up multicultured. I grew up with Stonewall, I grew up on the laps of drag queens.”
Those experiences have made Athletic Shorts hostile to people like the Khakis, who, he assumed, live in the fancy new townhouses that served as a background to their showdown. “You’re walking around in your polo shirt, you’re pushing your stroller into me and you don’t say ‘excuse me,’” he said of the couple. “You must be some kind of transplanted white trash. They don’t think they are because they’ve got money, but they act like it, you know?”
Still, Athletic Shorts admitted that he was "embarrassed" by the episode, saying, "It’s not really fair to go around screaming ‘I’m a native New Yorker no one can do anything.’" It’s also not really fair for a white guy to go around thinking that he’s some kind of hero for moving to a black neighborhood, but there you have it.