It's only on depressing days that I need the Internet the most. Not because I obsessively Google phantom ailments (which I do), but because I need to be reminded that all of us—the collective us, not a race us—are better than we let on. It's that Internet moment of "the kid with the ailment scores several buckets in a high school game" or "a child's wisdom sums up humanity for us all."
So I tell you that this moment, this brutally honest moment, between two white men might be the best one of them all. Not because it reminds us that we are all good, but because it speaks to the delusion, privilege and ownership that come up only after two white men argue about who owns Brooklyn, N.Y.
In truth, I don't know for sure whether both of the men are white, but for the purposes of this essay, let's assume they are.
It goes like this: Workday starts, ho-hum as always. Co-worker sends video titled "Christopher Columbus of Brooklyn." Ears perk up and a smile spreads across my face.
Click video, and this is what I see: a white man arguing with another white man. I was sad. Two white men yelling is quite normal on the Internet. Within seconds, it takes a turn. Almost like magic, it happens: One white guy tells the other white guy, "You're new in this neighborhood; I've been in this neighborhood."
Then comes the money shot—the pièce de résistance, if you will: "The only reason white people like you are living in this neighborhood is because I settled this f—king neighborhood for you."
Christopher Columbus indeed.
Looks like the argument was about a stroller bump in which the real "I'm from the neighborhood white guy" was pissed with "the stroller-pushing white guy" not only for not saying "Excuse me" but also for apparently telling him to f—k off when he said something.
But that is just backstory. The real magic—and make no mistake about it, there is magic in this video—is that two white guys are arguing about who owns stolen land. It might be the whitest moment in the history of whiteness. These types of conversations are the stuff of lore. It's rare that we actually get to see behind Oz's curtain to see that a white man can be just as annoyed at another white man for gentrifying the neighborhood.
And get this, since it might be the craziest part: It is a black police officer who keeps the two men from coming to blows!
That is the modern-day equivalent of George Washington and James Madison arguing over the last plate of chitlins while Nat Turner breaks them apart.
Click the video below. Some of the language is NSFW—and you're welcome.