On July 3, 2022, the New York Times published an article titled, “Buffalo’s ‘Other Story’ Is Told in Redevelopment and Growth,” under the byline of C.J. Hughes. That piece opened as follows:
Buffalo was riding a decade-long economic turnaround when a racially motivated attack by a gunman killed 10 people in May, overshadowing the progress. While the city grieved, it also had to reckon with unflattering portrayals of the East Side, the impoverished neighborhood where the massacre took place.
Those harsh takes tell only part of the story, say residents, business owners and city officials. Now, they are determined to put the focus back on the recovery.
Unhappy with the slant of the article, I sent the Times a letter-to-the-editor on July 5. Anyone who visits this blog will realize that it was not easy for me to restrict my writing to 175 words or so, but I did my best. Regrettably, the eminent publication chose not to share my comments with its nationwide readership. [In contrast, I was pleased to see that the July 7, 2022 print edition of The Challenger Community News included my letter. My sincere thanks to its editor, Al-Nisa Banks.]
The reach of this blog is, I will humbly admit, a tad less expansive than that of the New York Times. Nonetheless, I feel the need to share my comments. Here’s my letter:
July 5, 2022
Buffalo’s Poverty and Segregation persists despite “Redevelopment and Growth”
The July 3, 2022 article touting Buffalo’s “Other Story” of redevelopment and growth reads like an ad campaign by Mayor Byron Brown and the local business community. In fact, Buffalo’s so-called “economic renaissance” eludes much of the city’s residents:
– The 2020 U.S. census shows that Buffalo has the second-highest childhood poverty rate among major American cities, 43.4%. In 2016, it was “only” the seventh worst.
– Overall, 29% of Buffalonians live in poverty, nearly three times the rate of our nation as a whole. 35% of Black city residents are below the federal guideline.
– Nationwide, 64% of residents own their homes. In Buffalo, that rate has fallen from 45% in 2010, to 40.7% in 2019.
– Black students fail to earn a high school degree at a rate nearly twice that of whites, 17.6% to 9.3%.
– Although Blacks account for 35% of Buffalo’s population, they make up only 6% of the balance of the metropolitan area. 85% of Blacks live east of Main Street, the near-impenetrable racial dividing line.
That’s the “Real Story.”
With All Due Respect,
P.S. If this posting was of interest to you, I urge you to read Jim Heaney’s excellent May 17, 2022 report, “Buffalo Is Segregation City.” [Jim was not restrained by a 150 – 200 limit.]