Staten Island's Race Problem

Posted on 04. Oct, 2009 by in Beats, General, Sandeep Junnarkar

Staten Island is littered with time warped xenophobes who harbor a deep loathing for dark skin. The Island is a microcosm of the U.S.’s racial qualms. The North Shore population of the Island is about 22% Black and 20% Hispanic as opposed to the South Shore’s which is about 1% Black and 6% Hispanic.  Long time Staten Islanders jokingly refer to the Staten Island Expressway as “The Mason Dixon Line.”

Despite the North Shore’s more mixed neighborhoods, bitter racism exists there too. Look at these comments from the Stapleton forum on

“What’s with Stapleton? There’s so many monkeys walking around. The neighborhood is so unsafe it’s ridiculous.” Posted by “mightymomss” on 9/23/2009. To which bobstape responded, “It became monkeyville around 79.”

As a reporter I value this kind of overt racism because once people see my notebook or tape recorder in the street they’ll never put their true thoughts on record.

Though in November Debi Rose might become the first ever African-American elected official from Staten Island, her primary victory came five days after the sentencing of “America’s Most Inept Racists,” who drove around Staten Island looking for black people to beat with a pipe on election night 2008. These guys really went out of their way too. They beat a Liberian guy in Park Hill and ran over a white guy (looked black with a hoody on)  in Port Richmond. These two neighborhoods, though both on the North Shore aren’t conveniently close. Maybe that’s why they missed Stapleton, or as some call it, “monkeyville.” Check the FBI’s press release for a fuller account.

Why is Staten Island socially segregated? Or is it structurally segregated? Is it odd that the city’s whitest borough (over 3/4 white) was the only borough to give John McCain the majority of their votes?  Should Debi Rose’s race even matter or is the “first anything” regarding race a novelty in American discourse?

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9 Responses to “Staten Island's Race Problem”

  1. Joe Tacopino

    04. Oct, 2009

    my old boss on Staten Island used to call President Obama “Curious George.” not just a few times — repeatedly, at almost every opportunity.
    racism still exists and Staten Island is no exception.

    one glaring example you cited is the SI Advance’s sister website, This publication lets hateful and racist comment threads exist under its name almost daily, and hardly anything is done to censor this.

    apparently, the people at SILive treasure high traffic more than common decency,

  2. ts60

    04. Oct, 2009

    Hiding your head in the sand through censorship of comments you don’t like does not help to alleviate the problem of racism on Staten Island or anywhere else. Only honest discussion about the causes and effects of racism will accomplish that goal.

  3. LauraL

    05. Oct, 2009

    As a native of Stapleton, I am ashamed that these comments origined here. I agree that cyber-space provides a cloak of anonymity for comments that would otherwise not be uttered.

  4. Concerned Citizen

    07. Oct, 2009

    Michael. I have to disagree with you. Just because John McCain won Staten Island does not make it racist. Also you are going after the white folks that are stating racist things. Have you never met a black, asian or hispanic racist. Plenty of racists. Some of the biggest fighters against racists such as Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright etc.. tend to be big racists.

    Did the guy say something thats inappropriate. Yes. Is it true? YES.

  5. Michael Cohen

    08. Oct, 2009

    I was not saying that Staten Island is racist because it went for John McCain but it is odd that every other borough gave Obama something like 70%. I live on the South Shore and the bitter comments I heard during election season was sickening. Not just because racism is ugly but race should not influence a vote. And no, i have never personally met a black, hispanic or asian racist unless they just didn’t expose their racism in front of me. You raise a very good point there however and I’ll try to be more aware of that. Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton do not live on Staten Island. Though Wright made some outrageous statements he does try to base his arguments on historical fact and not name calling like the the person who called Stapleton “monkeyville.”

  6. Concerned Citizen

    09. Oct, 2009

    I have met many closet racists. Especially asians and hispanics. If you get to know many of them well. Even including those born in the 80’s and 90’s. They have racist views. They just dont go on and state it.

    I can at least respect a person for being openly racist versus a closet racist. Wright tried to base his argument on revisionist history. The person who called Stapelton monkeyville was wrong to say it, but the truth is that crime is high in Stapelton. A black area with drug addicts, dealers, gangsters etc… He makes a point, but he says it the wrong way. I see thats your problem.

  7. the Dev

    12. Jan, 2010

    Almost all black neighborhoods are rife with crime, drug dealing, and poverty. Stapleton was a beautiful neighborhood before the early 70’s and the city/ state forcing the “Stapleton Houses” upon the neighborhood… and then demanding that diversification metrics be imposed upon them. Some people are not afraid to speak the obvious, including me. Minorities (especially Blacks) turn their neighborhoods into crime ridden hell holes, and decent people leave in droves….no matter their color.

    The author of this blog should move to Stapleton for a while. I wouldnt hold it against him if his opinion changed.

  8. ExIslander

    22. Jan, 2010

    the Dev, bravo! Spoken like a true closeted gay.

  9. henry

    03. Aug, 2010

    Just wana say racism is all over the world black white Hispanic hate each other and its none stop it comes from families generations passed on maybe one day we can unite and make the world a better place may god bliss all human Kind.