It's teacher hunting season!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Did He Just Say That?! Mayor Bloomberg Slurred Black and Latino Men

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is donating $30 Million in an effort to aid African-American and Latino men.

He was interviewed on the PBS Newshour last night (August 4, 2011). The problem is, his language was a might patronizing, and given the gross generalizations in his comments, racist.

When he referred to crime rates he said, "If you look at who the victims and the perpetrators [of crime] are, it's virtually all minorities." (Emphasis added.)

Many white Americans have made attempts to be sensitive with their comments, both in the substance and in their choice of words.

Not so with Mayor Bloomberg. Here we have someone who opines nearly every business day on policy matters. We find it hard to believe that this was an impassioned slip of the lip.

Let's be clear: Blacks and Latino do not commit virtually all crime, nor are they virtually all the victims. Slick generalizations such as Mr. Bloomberg's are akin to the kind of thinking behind the differential prosecuting and sentencing of darker skin toned criminal offenders compared to lighter skinned offenders.

Here is the essential quote from the PBS Newshour interview transcript, I am critiquing, again, with emphasis:
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Well, for a long time, people have said there's nothing you can do about it.
But blacks and Latinos score terribly in school testing compared to whites and Asians. If you look at our jails, it's predominantly minorities. If you look at where crime takes place, it's in minority neighborhoods. If you look at who the victims and the perpetrators are, it's virtually all minorities.
This is something that has gone on for a long time. I assume it's prevalent elsewhere, but certainly true in New York City. And for many, many years, people said there was just nothing you can do about it. Now, what we have done in the last 10 years is we have cut the testing gap in schools for black and Latino kids vs. white and Asian kids in half, but they still are way behind.
We have tried to diversify our police department, so that it really does measure the -- mirror the community's ethnicity. And they have brought crime down dramatically. We have the lowest crime rate we have ever had in the history of the city. And that's particularly important to black and Latino kids and their families and their neighborhoods, because that is where the crime is.
So they benefit from that. And we have done a number of these kinds of things, trying to attract the kind of jobs that are available to people who maybe don't have a formal education, have dropped out of school, or don't have great command of the English language, or have a blemish on their resume which would keep them from getting a job at a more traditional firm where they do an extensive background check.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: And so we have tried to attract industries that can use the people here who are unemployed.
But, nevertheless, there's this enormous cohort of black and Latino males aged, let's say, 16 to 25 that don't have jobs, don't have any prospects, don't know how to find jobs, don't know that the -- what their skill sets are, don't know how to behave in the workplace, where they have to work collaboratively and collectively.

Bloomberg with his donation is trying to help the unfortunate, or at least, help his image. Had he been a more sensitive speaker he would have taken great pains to emphasize that men with criminal or dysfunctional behaviors are a minority in the Black and Latino communities. We did not hear words representative of the majority, for example, "trust-worthy," "peaceful" or "law-abiding." Instead, Mayor Bloomberg, an influential public personality, has done a disservice by perpetuating racial stereotypes in the minds of lesser informed sections of the public.

Aside from the dissent voiced on Mark Riley's morning show at WWRL, as referenced in the Daily News, "Mayor Bloomberg donating $30M to minority youth causes skepticism among radio listeners" and a critique at the Mediaite blog, I have seen no dissent on this project.

No comments:

Post a Comment