Consider three Queens neighborhoods with very similar median family incomes. In Flushing (pct 109) the median family income is $58,000; in Fresh Meadows (pct 107) it is $58,000, and in St. Albans and Springfield Gardens (pct 113) it is $59,000.
Flushing, with only 19% black and Latino residents, has a marijuana arrest rate of 89 per hundred thousand residents. Fresh Meadows is 32% blacks and Latinos and has a rate of 96 marijuana arrests.
But the St. Albans neighborhood is 93% black and Latino residents and has a marijuana arrest rate of 396 - four times that of Flushing and over three times that of Fresh Meadows. For marijuana arrests in these NYPD precincts with nearly identical family incomes, race trumps class.
I grew up in Queens so I know these neighborhoods. I haven’t lived in NYC for a little more than 10 years but I still have family there and continued to work in Manhattan even after I moved to NE PA.
- Flushing is large and has almost always had a diverse and ever changing makeup. Most recently it probably had the biggest Asian population in Queens.
- Fresh Meadows has been predominantly white for as long as I can remember. I was surprised to see that it had even 32% black & latino residents. That’s changed since I was growing up.
- I grew up in a neighborhood adjacent to St. Albans & Springfield Gardens and still have family and friends in southeast Queens where these neighborhoods are located. Like my neighborhood, these communities became majority black in the late ‘60’s, early ‘70’s as a result of white flight.
These are all working/middle class neighborhoods although housing was always more expensive in Fresh Meadows.
If there is another explanation other than racism to explain this disparity I’d really love to hear it.