Monday, August 8, 2011

Bloomberg Counters His Own Attacks on People of Color

NYC Mayor Bloomberg has pledged $30 million of his own money toward improving opportunities for Black and Latino men, but he continues to promote the most policies geared toward damaging people of color.

The Mayor's Own Money

Mayor Bloomberg has pledged $30 million of his own money toward a $127 million city initiative to provide help to Black and Latino men. George Soros is matching Bloomberg's contribution, and the city is paying the remaining costs. The initiative will focus on parole reform, job training, and education. More than a dozen city agencies are connected to this initiative, and Bloomberg added to the spending by issuing an executive order barring city agencies from placing undue barriers before job applicants with criminal convictions.

One would find it difficult to oppose the $127 million of funding, the $30 million contribution from the Mayor, or the focus on the plight of men of color in our city, but this initiative is small in comparison to the problems faced by these men. By my estimation, it results in less than $50 per man of color in our city.

Our primary reaction to this initiative is to marvel at the inconsistency of the Mayor's approach to men of color. As we'll discuss later in this post, the Mayor is one of the key components of the pain inflicted on men of color, and he could end that pain at no cost at any time. Instead, he continues to punish people of color in our city for not being born white.

People of Color Facing Challenges in Our City and Beyond

In our city, men of color have far higher unemployment rates than other men and earn far less when employed than other men earn.

We have recently seen that across the United States, the median household wealth for persons of color is approximately one-twentieth of the wealth of the median white household. Therefore, a typical white family has 20 times the wealth of the typical Black or Latino family in our country.

We also know that simply having a name that appears to be a Black name makes a job applicant half as likely to be interviewed when compared with an identical applicant whose name does not seem Black.

Across nearly all metrics and analyses, people of color are provided fewer opportunities, pay higher prices, and suffer more abuse than other people.

Mayor is Chief Tormentor of Men of Color

Mayor Bloomberg has provided over the highest ever levels of stops and frisks of innocent people of color. He sets a new record every year. In Black neighborhoods, the chances of being stopped in a year are an astonishing 30% or more, while white New York City residents escape the stop and frisk terrorism despite the fact that white New York City residents are more likely to have illegal weapons or illegal drugs than people of color in our city. In June,

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said, the stop and frisk numbers “are going in the absolutely wrong direction.”

"Stop and frisk has a place in law enforcement but the abuse of this tactic to target absolutely innocent people is bad for all New Yorkers,” she said. “This practice seriously undermines the quality of life for people of color in New York City, particularly in the poorest, most vulnerable neighborhoods."

Ninety percent of those incarcerated in our city are people of color, and only 28% of Black men in our city graduate from high school.

Mayor Bloomberg's administration is the most lacking in people of color since Mayor Koch.

Mayor Bloomberg has been dedicated to preventing people of color from becoming members of the Fire Department of New York City. He fought against the Bush Administration as the federal government sought to reduce the racial discrimination in hiring at the FDNY. He chose not to hire any firefighters in order to avoid adhering to a federal judge's order to end his "white-only" FDNY hiring approach.

Perhaps Mayor Bloomberg's $30 million investment is a part of a new thinking by him that will change our city. For now, the most powerful action Mayor Bloomberg can take to improve the lives of men of color in our city is an action that he can take without the help of George Soros or any of his fellow billionaires. He should resign.

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