Have you ever said something that was misunderstood? I have. And that’s how I saw Ira Karasick’s comment, made about fitting people into an elevator while social distancing.

He reportedly told William Scott, a Black housing official, “Don’t worry, you are only three-fifths of a human.” Taken literally, as Mr. Scott apparently did, it’s deeply offensive, and I can understand why he felt grievously wounded. But I suspect that anyone who has a passing acquaintance with Mr. Karasick, as I do, read that reference to our Constitution as a flippant joke, the very point of which was the absurdity of such a repulsive idea.

I say this not to prolong attention to this matter, but to dispel it. I read in the Montclair Local that the mayor, Township Council, church leaders and the NAACP are to-ing and fro-ing about how fully Mr. Karasick was denounced, how exhaustively the matter was investigated, etc. This is deeply dismaying. The very real issues of racial and economic justice in our town could be better addressed in so many ways: Build more affordable housing, relax historically discriminatory zoning laws, pass a fair system of rent control, generously fund the public library, provide academic support to close the achievement gap in our schools and more.

With respect for the good intentions of all and due consideration of hurt feelings, I ask: Can we put this aside and get back to work?

Joanmarie Kalter


Montclair Local's Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local.

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail "Letters to the Editor," 309 Orange Road, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer's name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be eligible for potential publication in that week's Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our "Town Square" banner. "Town Square" essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at least seven days prior to publication.