East Yonkers : Residents’ Reactions
to the Desegregation Case
A White View of 1980s Yonkers
Families who have strived to move away from cities and reside in communities which value sublime homes, landscaped properties, and close knit communities initiated the development of the suburbs. At first the creation of the borderlands, the first conception of suburbs, became enough for families, but thirsty Americans flew to utopian track house enclaves and later the 1950’s sitcom suburbs. With a rise in the standard of living, transportation advancements, and the arrival of thousands of immigrants, families could finally pursue the archetype of the American dream house: a big two story dwelling, with an immaculately manicured lawn set apart by a chip-free, white picket fence. These suburbs represent the American epitome for family and community, and they should be open to the individuals that have worked hard enough to achieve that same status. However, problems surface when these established suburbs witness the arrival of public housing and the ethnic groups that accompany them. This incident happened in Yonkers, New York after the heavy hammer of Judge Leonard B. Sand’s gavel in 1985. Judge Sand found the city of Yonkers guilty of segregated housing and school systems, and he forced the city to find ways to integrate its discriminatory society by incorporating minorities from Southwest Yonkers into “white” East Yonkers. The verdict outraged the white citizens of East Yonkers, who claimed that his decision would erase neighborhood history and identity, depreciate home prices, and just be plain unfair. While these may all seem like legitimate reasons to amend the decision, the caustic attitude of the white civilians appears to have a deeper root for anger than those cases previously given. The enraged citizens of East Yonkers claim to have hidden behind reasons that look good on paper, but backing those beliefs were strong words of prejudice. While it’s plausible that white individuals and white neighborhoods would be angry, the extent of their prejudicial opinions read nothing shy of bold-faced racists’ beliefs. The riled white community of Yonkers had a muddy past that dealt with integration, and the only way for them to amend their denial is through acknowledging that their condemning actions were fueled by prejudice.