Meet the Residents of MacDonough Street

I’m not under the delusion that America is post-racial.

—Roslyn Morrison

Roslyn Morrison, 42Current Tenant, Public Defender

Lives with: Her son

Moved From: Brooklyn Heights in 2006

I used to have a co-op in Brooklyn Heights, on Montague Street, and lived there for ten years. I was constantly being asked whether I was a nanny or if I was a dog walker. Was I surprised by that? Not all that much. I’d been to boarding school, where there were only a few people of color. So I was accustomed to being around that “What are you doing here?”–type attitude. I’m not under the delusion that America is post-racial. But it was disappointing. It saddened me.

Moving to a diverse neighborhood was a step to counterbalance that. I was looking for places where culturally I felt comfortable. I wanted to live someplace with people of color, where I could have a home without feeling tension. My son feels at home in our neighborhood. It was immediately very comfortable. The people on my block were very warm. They’re like family to me. No one’s asking me if I’m a dog walker.

I see the working-class black folk that have made the neighborhood what it is being priced out of it — the black artists. If I had to move, I might even be priced out of it. As I’m looking around, in terms of purchasing a brownstone, it’s not affordable anymore. A generation ago, you had teachers and nurses and regular working folks who would be able to purchase a home.

There are people who have moved onto the block, they don’t speak when I speak to them. We’re warm, we smile. It amazes me that you can live on the block and not speak to people when they try to speak to you. Because at the end of the day, you want someone to look out for you. And who’s gonna want to look out for you if you can’t even be bothered to speak to the people who live two doors down from you?