Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement yesterday that the city would be launching an initiative to improve the life outcomes of black and Latino young men set off a fury of press coverage yesterday and the usual denunciations by racists of any efforts to assist black people.
(Typical of the drivel is this short, but nonsense comment that was posted on The New York Times’ website yesterday:
Bloomberg’s announcement also surfaced a lot of truly obnoxious outsiders deriding black women as bad mothers. But on the Times’ comment board, the vast majority of the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. For the first time in New York history, we might actually have a social policy aimed at assisting black and Latino men that is broadly supported by New York’s white elites. It’s not paradise, but it’s definitely new territory.
Bloomberg’s three-year initiative aims to address four issues that young black and Latino men grapple with disproportionately — 1) education; 2) fatherhood; 3) employment; 4) criminal justice — using about $127 million in private and city money, including a $30 million grant from Bloomberg’s foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies.
At some point, Mayor Bloomberg’s office is going to have to explain whether anyone on the committee that developed this initiative proposed ending policing practices that create racial disparities in arrests. And we don’t know enough yet about how the program will be implemented.
Dominion of New York sent an e-mail to one of the mayor’s spokespeople today asking her lots of questions, like which 40 schools will participate in the pilot education program that is part of the initiative. We are hoping to work with her to get some answers to these questions as early as Monday.
Meanwhile, the Times got some feedback today from blacks and Latinos. The article quoted one non-profit leader.
“I’m glad to see somebody’s actually mentioning the words ‘young men’ and ‘color’ in the same sentence as ‘funding,’ ” said Danny R. Peralta, director for arts and education at The Point Community Development Corporation in the Bronx.
Still, Mr. Peralta worried that the money would just graze the surface of the problem. “If you can’t wake up in the morning to some food or if you can’t get some counseling for whatever traumas you’ve been experiencing,” he said, “it is not going to reach you.”
The issue is also resonating nationally, partly because race is just that much a lightning rod and partly because Bloomberg might be one of the first mayors to tackle it this way. Yesterday, Michael Eric Dyson discussed the initiative with Lehigh University Professor James Braxton Peterson:
Next week, be on the lookout for updates about the initiative. Use the comments section to tell us more about what you want this mayor to do for our communities.