Conflict resolution is a skill best learned through experience. There are productive ways to defuse tense situations that may not seem obvious to those who lack tact. And impulsive responses are often ill-advised. Consider this one.
When Richard Scott Brookshire’s neighbors took issues with the amount of noise coming from his apartment, one of them wrote him a disparaging note. It wasn’t eloquent. Worse yet, it ended with the admonition: “please learn your manners.”
Brookshire’s own rhetorical sophistication easily trumped that of his sleepless neighbors, and his response was brutal.
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”
What do you do when you get schooled this brutally?
It is worth noting, too, that he doesn’t hide behind the anonymity that a simple note stuck on a door might afford. He owns his response.