Black author told to stay in his ‘hood’ says he’s gotten death threats. Does gentrification put lives at risk?

A composite image showing Frederick Joseph and a still from a video he took that he said showed a woman who told him and his fiancé to stay in their 'hood.'
A composite image showing Frederick Joseph and a still from a video he took that he said showed a woman who told him and his fiancé to stay in their ‘hood.’ Twitter/Frederick Joseph/Insider
  • A Black author says he’s receiving death threats after an alleged racist incident in a dog park.
  • Experts say gentrification is making viral racist incidents more common.
  • Frederick Joseph says he wanted to show that “racism is intolerable” by sharing the video.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Black man who was reportedly harassed while walking his dog with his fianceé at a Brooklyn park says he is now receiving a barrage of death threats after posting a video with the tailend of the interaction online.

“The young woman lost her job and now she has hundreds of thousands of people online supporting her while we’re receiving death threats,” Frederick Joseph told Insider, referring to Emma Sarley, the white woman who allegedly told the couple to “stay in” their “hood” on Saturday, lost her job after she was identified online as the woman in the video.

Related Article Module: A woman was fired after she was accused of telling a Black man walking his dog in Williamsburg to stay in his ‘hood’“Porsche and I are still traumatized,” Joseph, author of the New York Times bestselling book The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person, added.

“We’re the victims here and all we’ve gotten for the moment is being victimized by the situation and now having to think about what to do about these death threats that we’re getting.”

Joseph tweeted about the incident, posting a video of Sarley lifting the middle finger at him and his fianceé, Porsche Landon. Sarley then attempted to slap his phone out of his hands.

When confronted on video, whether she told Joseph and Landon to go back to their ‘hood,’ Sarley denied telling the couple to go back to their hood before a bystander confirmed her words.

The couple told Insider the incident highlights gentrification and the “displacement of Black and brown people.”

Experts say gentrification is making viral incidents more common

The incident, according to Joseph and Landon, not only exemplifies the persistence of racist vitriol, but also speaks to the “entitlement” among many white New Yorkers who displace “Black and brown people” through gentrification.

“There’s the massive entitlement that I think is also lost in the story of people coming in and displacing Black and brown people and trying to erase their existence,” Joseph said. “You don’t even understand, as Black people, this is our hood.”

“Gentrification pushed these people out,” he added.

Imani Henry, lead organizer of Equality for FlatBush – a Black-POC-lead anti-gentrification and anti-displacement grassroots organization – told Insider Williamsburg was once home to a significant Puerto Rican and Dominican population, however, the number of Latinos in the area has dwindled in recent years.

“We call Williamsburg a cautionary tale,” Henry said. “Williamsburg was once a nightlife bastion for Latinx people, but we watched as the first wave of younger, richer, whiter people were steered towards the area.”

Similarly, Black Brooklynites also once lived in the Southern part of the area before being “pushed out,” said Henry, who himself grew up in Williamsburg and has witnessed the area’s rapid gentrification.

Once considered an “enclave for artists and people of color,” Williamsburg in Henry’s eyes now “caters to middle and upper-middle class white people and Wall Street.”

A 2016 report from New York University’s Furman Center found that Williamsburg is leading in gentrification among the New York City’s neighborhoods.

“Not only are you being racist, but you’re being ahistorical,” Joseph explained.

“The incident speaks to … the most horrific aspects of gentrification whereby white people come in, leverage their capital, leverage their whiteness, and not only erase Black and Brown people but commit acts of violence against them while doing so,” he added.

According to census and American Community Survey data, Greenpoint and Williamsburg were about 52% white in 2000 and were more than 60 percent white in 2019.

“To be speaking to someone in a very clearly racist, loaded way and feel so entitled in a neighborhood that’s now yours, but has really never been historically white, there’s no acknowledgment of that or even a feeling of ‘this is what’s actually going on, this is my place in the world.'”

Despite harassment, Joseph says he does not regret sharing video

Joseph says he was driven to use his platform and share his story on behalf of people of color who regularly experience racism – even if that means experiencing further harassment and death threats.

“It was never just about the two of us,” Joseph said. “It’s about Black and brown people being seen in these moments.”

“This happens every day and there’s never any justice for so many people,” he added. “Racism should be intolerable.”

“For us, before there was ever a term like Karen, that has been a thing,” Landon said. “Even when people don’t care anymore or people are over being woke or posting their Black squares, it’s real life for people.”