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


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