Politicians leave a paper trail by which we can reflect on the historic record as it was put into play by policy decisions that are criminal minded. In 1970, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan took a proposal to the Nixon White House that he described as “benign neglect.” Moynihan advocated for the government to withdraw from dealing with the systemic issues plaguing the African American community, and in doing so, services were suspended in neighborhoods where they needed it most. In its place Moynihan advocated for increased surveillance and “studies,” much like the nonsense he was pedaling here.
But this being Tricky Dick Nixon, the message was warmly received, ushering in more than a decade of psychopathic patriarchy—which included the blind eye turned as landlords hired arsonists to burn down buildings in order to collect the insurance money, leaving neighborhoods in ruins. A war was being waged in plain sight, but there was nothing that could be done until the land was ravished completely. Between 1970 and 1980, 44 census tracts in the Bronx lost more than half of their buildings to fire and abandonment, with seven tracts losing a staggering 97%.
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Photo: The daily domino game in front of the Social Club. 1976-1982. Gelatin silver print. Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Roberta Perrymapp, 2013.12.28. © Mel Rosenthal.