Many of ye will be familiar with the story of Breezy Point, a mainly Irish-American community in Queens, NY which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October last year. Such was the plight of the residents that - in a reversal of the diaspora-helps-motherland-theme, people in Ireland rallied to help them out. Recently, GAA players turned up to do their bit.
What's there to criticise in such a feelgood story of human helping human? Well, the New York Times isn't happy about Breezy Point.
The Irish Central website has hit back strongly against this slur on the residents of Breezy Point.[C]omplicating the current embrace from abroad is the gated community’s extreme insularity. Breezy Point is the whitest neighborhood in the city, a demographic makeup that critics say illustrates the enclave’s entrenched xenophobia, a dark flip side, perhaps, to all that ethnic pride.
It was once called an “an apartheid village” by the Rev. Al Sharpton during a protest. Steve Greenberg, the former chairman of the Breezy Point cooperative’s board, said that to his knowledge, no black family had ever held a share in the private community. Even in the days after the storm, volunteer firefighters in the community repeatedly told a visitor as she left to beware of the residents of Far Rockaway, the predominantly black neighborhood at the other end of the peninsula.
I've had a lot of respect for the NYT in the past but I don't understand why it's trying to stir s__t in what really seems to be a story of people of many different ethnic backgrounds helping each other. Is it just crass sensationalism?The facts are very different to this type of innuendo. The Irish community reached out to all residents in Rockaway, Black, Irish, Jewish, Italian and were encouraged to do so by those in Breezy and everywhere else.
It was clear from talking to people down there that many of the hardest hit areas were those where the African American community lived.
Many in Breezy Point made that point to me directly, that bad and all as they were, they had more resources than many of the poorest and hardest hit in other areas that were not Irish. I would say that was a constant refrain.
The two days of action were major successes. Up to 1,000 Irish took part and under the leadership of the Irish Consulate and the Irish immigrant centers as well as locals on the ground like former NYPD officer Brian McCabe, the community spread across the Rockaways, working in every area.
I spent a day visiting the sites and the appreciation and the thanks in the African American community was as heartfelt and welcoming as that which was received in Breezy.
2. Defending the Irish community against racist claims in New York Times -- Same old story as Hurricane Sandy relief efforts questioned | Periscope Niall O'Dowd | IrishCentral