Black Man's Letter to His Passive-Aggressive White Neighbors Goes Viral

Image of letter written by Richard Brookshire  to passive-aggressive complaining neighbors
Image of letter written by Richard Brookshire to passive-aggressive complaining neighbors

Editor’s note: This post contains a social media message that some may find offensive.


I pity anyone who has to deal with neighbors in an apartment building. Especially when you have to deal with the complaining and passive-aggressive types. Oh, and let's not forget gentrifiers. Or, as I like to call them, "white migrators." Apparently, instead of knocking on a neighbor's door, people take the easy and passive-aggressive way out and just leave notes instead. But one man wasn't having it.

Richard Scott Brookshire's neighbors left the email below on his door this week to make a complaint about alleged noise and stomping. The letter reads that he needs to learn his manners, and also indicates that the writer had submitted a complaint to management and would call the police the next time he made noise.

The neighbors probably didn't think their letter would prompt a reply, but it did. And Brookshire's clapback went viral:

To: The Passive Aggressive Neighbor and His Wife / Apartment 5-J From: Richard / Apartment 6-J

Re: I’m Finna Tell You What You Not Gon’ Do October 6th 2016

This letter serves a formal response to a note left by you expressing, in no uncertain terms, your intent to notify building management and the authorities of what you perceived to be the inconsiderate volume of my speaking voice in the evening hours of October 5, 2016. First, let me be clear in addressing my lack of bother for your grievance and resolve to not be coerced to remedial action by your idle threats or seemingly pervasive white tears. I, the tenant in apartment 6-J, having secured this rental property through earnings / made and credit / earned, have no inherent or expressly stated obligation to accommodate your hyper-sensitivities, or those of your spouse when occupying my home. Though I empathized with the emotional distress brought on by sleep deprivation, citing my voice as the root-cause for your incapacity to attain restful slumber is both improbable and juvenile. Even in the off chance that my voice had been above what you consider to be considerate, the aggressive posturing of your note to address the matter was wholly unnecessary and, quite frankly, unproductive.”

Second, your lack of both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence reflects poorly on you as a neighbor, and frankly an American. As one of the only tenants of color occupying this building at full market rate, I find it personally abhorrent that you’d levy the threat of involving the authorities for an insignificant infraction such as the one you noted in your poorly written and ill-thought-out correspondence. As a Black man, I take these overt actions as a direct threat to my physical and psychological well-being and as an act of violence upon me (See attached list of 821 men, women, and children killed by police or in police custody to date in 2016). This threat cannot be taken lightly. To that end, I am submitting my formal complaint to both the New York City Police Department, the American Civil Liberties Union and the District Community Board so that they are made aware of your callous and irrational threats upon my person. Lastly, I think it’s worth reminding you that you currently reside in Northern Manhattan, an enclave of ethnic and racial diversity that existed in community well before your gentrifying arrival. In the words of Robert Jones, Jr., ‘one of the great divides between white people and black people (or the wealthy and the not wealthy) is noise.’ Look forward to me continuing to make it at the volume in which I determine is acceptable. Should you feel the need to threaten me again, please do so in person so that an amenable solution can be reached.

Kind regards, Richard Scott Brookshire III, MPA

Your #VeryBlack Neighbor #blacklivesmatter”

The next time I need a sternly worded letter written, I'm emailing Brookshire.