Our brief conversation - in which I informed her that I had moved into the area just days before, but so far was quite enjoying myself and the neighbors - clearly left her unconvinced, nose wrinkled in a nervous smile as she trotted off toward the subway. I had a sneaking suspicion she probably wouldn't move here.
"Is this a safe neighborhood?" When this unknown white woman asked me The Question, groups of young black children and Hasidic men passing on the street, I felt the weight of her subtext. Will those people hurt me? Can I keep my distance from them without feeling bad about myself? Is there a Whole Foods nearby? In today's New York, coded language is the dialect of young white people toeing the Venn diagram of gentrification and prejudice.