‘This is not okay’: Waterbury mother says family received racist letter when moving into city neighborhood

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — A Waterbury mom says she and her family recently received a racist letter when they moved to the East Mountain neighborhood.

Tashia Autry and her family chose to move into a quiet part of Waterbury with nice homes, trees, and flowers. But, they say they experienced something ugly upon moving into their new home.

Autry says someone mailed an anonymous letter to them filled with racism.

Autry, who’s Black, says the letter congratulated them for “moving on up to the East side”. She immediately recognized that as a reference to the theme song and opening sequence to the hit ’70s sitcom “The Jeffersons”.

The intro to that show includes a theme song with the lyrics: “Well we’re movin’ on up….to the east side …to a deluxe apartment in the sky…..” The show featured a successful Black family moving from their old neighborhood to a luxury skyscraper on the city’s east side.

What came next in the letter to Autry was much worse, she said.

“Now that you’re here and out of the ghetto please leave your ghetto ways on the other side of town,” the anonymous author of the letter wrote. “Nobody wants to hear your music blasting from your car radios while you sit in your car smoking drugs.”

That left Autry fuming.

“Where did I come from?” she asked. “How do you know where I came from? You just assumed [the ghetto] because of my color?…We’re sitting in our cars doing drugs? You can drug test me…I’ve never done drugs in my life.”

The letter sparking community reaction.

Alderman George Noujaim issued this statement to News 8:

“I am deeply disturbed by the anonymous letter that was given to one of our neighborhood residents at their home. I’m appalled that someone has the audacity to write a letter like that and give it to a fellow neighbor with disgusting rhetoric, claims, and racial language and insinuating how to act in ‘their neighborhood.’ On behalf of my community and district, we apologize to the homeowner and their family for such a disgusting act and it will not be tolerated. The East Mountain area, the East End, and Waterbury as a whole have a variety of residents with different backgrounds, nationalities, and religions and that is the beauty of where we live. As a Middle Eastern and immigrant, I am disheartened by this.”

Jo Anne Guerriero of The East Mountain Neighborhood Association told us this is out of character for the neighborhood she’s called home for close to 30 years.

“I’m shocked, truly shocked,” she said. “It does disturb me because I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”

Guerriero telling News 8 she hopes this incident can lead to growth in the future. She expects it to be a big topic of discussion at the next neighborhood association meeting on June 16.

“I hope the person who sent this will step up,” Guerriero said.

“This is not okay,” said Autry.

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