A legislator on Tuesday backpedaled from a bizarre racist remark she made the night prior while discussing the closing of a Clinton Hill supermarket at a town hall meeting.
State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Clinton Hill), who is African American, told CBS2 she did not intend offence when she said “white people don’t eat the way we do” to a predominately black audience gathered to talk about a planned eight-story residential building that is set to rise on Lafayette Avenue, where a Key Food currently sits. She stopped short of apologizing for the remarks, which were exclusively reported by The Brooklyn Paper.
“It was an unfortunate statement and I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” she told CBS2.
Her original statement was this:
“Supermarkets are an important part of the community. It’s an important amenity, especially for black and brown communities. When you’re talking about a white community, it can be a little boutique, because white people don’t eat the way we do.”
Montgomery explained to CBS that she meant to say that a smaller, higher-priced replacement grocery store would not work for the largely African-American population of the neighboring discounted co-op towers, which is lower-income and consists of larger families than the white population in the neighborhood.
Seniors in discounted co-op buildings around the supermarket between Saint James Place and Classon Avenue worry that the supermarket closure will make it much harder to meet their basic needs. The property’s owner said he would do his best to replace the Key Food once the new development is constructed.
Community members at the Monday night meeting echoed Montgomery’s sentiment in less mystifying language.
“If our skin were any other color, this would not be happening,” said Roseanne Lynn, a resident of Ryerson Towers.
Montgomery’s office did not respond to requests for additional comment.