Children may play cops and robbers all the time, but putting a pretend jail in a public housing playground in a historically black community struck some residents as an insult.
“We started complaining because it was like promoting kids to go to jail,” said Natasha Godley, 37, who has a 6-year-old son.
The prison look, including the offending word, was part of the original design of the playground, which was made by a company called Landscape Structures and erected in March 2004, the New York City Housing Authority said on Wednesday.
JailMonifa Bandele/Black and Brown News The jail, as it once was.
But it had not elicited complaints until this week, said Sheila Stainback, an agency spokeswoman.
Lumumba Bandele, a lecturer in black history at the City University of New York who lives nearby, said he began complaining to the housing authority and local officials about the playground this past weekend.
“The fact is that this community along with six others in New York City makes up the majority of the prison population in New York State,” he said. “And to have this here under the auspices of NYCHA is absolutely insulting.”
The jungle gym, tucked behind a building near Throop and Park Avenues, sits across from a handball court adorned with paintings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Oh yes, let’s make this a race thing. Let’s belabor the insensitivity of a playground that simulates one of the classic kids games: cops and robbers. Children are naturally inclined to see rules broken in (dare I say it) black and white. “Jail” is often a routine result. “You’re stuck in jail until you’re tagged out!”
Meanwhile, let’s ignore the underlying problems causing so many of these kids to end up in a real penitentiary. It’s too painful to examine generations of government dependence, the devaluation and absence of fatherhood, and the destruction of a moral underpinning to families with (mostly) boys ending up in prison.
Let’s pretend that playground equipment will be the psychological straw that will drive a youngin’ into a life of crime, since we’re living in fantasy land and emphasizing nonsense.