East Yonkers : Residents’ Reactions
to the Desegregation Case
With heads of religion combating the integration, individuals also had their own opinions. One homeowner named Mary Dorman opposed minorities’ integration because she felt as though their lack of education regarding home upkeep and suburban conformity would ruin the sanctity of her neighborhood. She claimed that these strictly prejudicial beliefs held some truth, but since she had no concrete evidence of how minorities lived besides news coverage, which presented these groups with negative connotations, her “truths” were unjustified.
She furthered argued her case for segregation on some news station. In her interview Mary Dorman says, “I don’t think you should take people with one life style and put them smack in the middle of a place with a different lifestyle. You have to expect them to resent us.” Her ignorance about how Blacks or Latinos would feel in a White neighborhood should reward her a nice slap of reality. To use this method to cover up one’s myopic feelings towards particular groups does not sit well with many. She epitomized the older lady who was scared of having minorities as neighbors because they might ruin the façade of the neighborhood through one slip up with the legal system or have a relative visit who might be too boisterous for the neighborhood.
Dunwoodie resident Bernadette McLaughlin offered the Times a rather ambiguous statement on integration. She said that she is an advocate of the concept and has no objections to living next door to people of different races or colors. However, her problem arose when the government set plans to build public-housing in her neighborhood. She said, “What I am categorically opposed to is any more subsidized housing…When you put that type of housing in a one- or two-family area, it doesn’t benefit anyone.” Her statement pondered the question why did Yonkers make exceptions. Was it a genuine reason or just a ploy to shade discrimination towards living with others? Mrs. McLaughlin clearly said that she could live in a multiracial environment, yet she continued that if minorities move into the proposed subsidized housing it will harm the well-being of her family. Mrs. McLaughlin should have been a supporter of the plan since she sees no harm in living next to other races, and should be hopeful that her new neighbors will add spice to the community, while helping to dispel the misconceptions about the drawbacks of public-housing in established neighborhoods.
Luckily for Yonkers, there were some white individuals who supported the housing plan. Laurie Recht told her fellow citizens at one city council hearing that “low-income housing in small groups does not necessarily increase crime. There are good and bad in all races. It is important to realize that no one group should be blamed for all social or societal problems.” Laurie Recht wanted to remind her community that just because you hear one thing does not mean you should believe it. She believed we have to be the judge for ourselves whether an individual will make a good or bad neighbor. The response to this unbiased woman’s plea resulted in her removal from the meeting by a mob shouting for her deportation to Harlem. They could not stand someone who violated their conformist ideas and had the perspicacity to reach out and bring others to support the movement of equal status among races.
 Belkin, Show Me a Hero, 36.
 Ibid., 73.
 William, Lena, “The Talk of Yonkers; Yonkers, in Midst of a Decline, Struggles to Recapture its Past,” New York Times, November 27, 1985, Education.
Belkin, Shoe Me a Hero, 33.