Lately, I have been slowly losing the feeling to write about the only game in town (politics). I have been blogging for over six years now. It’s not a fun thing anymore; but then, it probably never really was, even though I generally tried to make it enjoyable for myself and my readers. And no, this column is not about my “deranged” blog-stalker Howard “Gatemouth” Graubard. I have gotten a large number of phone calls and e-mails imploring me to keep writing here, and to ignore the lies emanating from that waste of floating protoplasm. He is truly an apology for a human being.
I have gotten umpteen calls from people who swear that my readership is even larger than I suspect and that I will be doing a public-disservice if I tone down. The truth is this: I have already toned-down. I keep telling folks that I will still write a weekly column; but I get the feeling that there are folks who want more; especially some of my “old” stuff: the “in the trenches” stuff.
Lately I have been writing more poetry and prose. I even started working on a couple novels again: but then, I have been working on those for at least two decades now. LMAO.
I guess I am going through some sort of mid-life crisis (again). All I need now is some twenty-something year old bimbo to keep my company as I play GO (a most fascinating game). I learned to play this game almost forty years ago and it still befuddles me. If there are any GO players out there wanting to play against me, do let me know. I have stopped playing chess, scrabble and backgammon for now: the thrill is gone.
Anyway; back when my editor (Ben Smith) worked at Politicker, I remember viewing the blogs as a good place to express my many political observations. That’s when I started submitting lil snippets of my lifelong political activism. That’s when these silly and irritating personal attacks on me started.
When he moved to the Daily News, I really felt that it was a breakthrough of sorts for New York bloggers. The fact that the “News” found it worthwhile to invest some resources in a political blog meant that the blogging of politics had arrived (again). Some people may forget this, but Errol Louis (NY1) lost some baby-teeth editing the Daily News blog; so too did Liz Benjamin. It also became a training ground of sorts, and a launching pad for many a media-career.
When Ben Smith co-founded the “Room Eight New York Politics” blog site, I pictured a home for community activists wanting to express themselves. He eventually moved on to the “Politicko”, and appears to have softened his vision for the site. I haven’t; but that’s another column.
Look; over the last six years I have written extensively about what I see as the metastasizing pockets within the Black and Hispanic communities nationwide. (One can get into my archives by clicking on my name or picture). I have often wondered if anyone in high power-positions was listening. I know they were reading; too many people told me as much.
In some ways I have sympathized with my colleague Larry Littlefield who has written extensively about the fiscal mess we find ourselves in nationally. Too many years of bumbling and stumbling by inept federal, state and local electeds have put us all at risk. Every Monday morning now, we Americans have to go to the Chinese people with hat in hand begging them to buy our bonds and/or treasury notes: so that we can eat, pay the rent, run the air-condition and clothe ourselves.
I have also sympathized with another colleague Mary Alice Miller (despite my personal differences with her), who has also written extensively about the everyday experiences of blacks in the “hood”. It was one of the reasons I recruited her to write on Room Eight New York Politics: we need more voices highlighting what’s going on in various corners within the communities of color.
Recently I did a two-part series on NYC council member Charles Barron’s public response to the latest city budget submitted by both the mayor (Bloomberg) and his deputy- mayor (Quinn). The columns generated a surprising number of responses (in private); they were obviously read all over this city. Sometimes you have a gut feeling when a column has hit hard.
I have often written about the “missing father syndrome” viciously afflicting the black community. When only one in four black kids will grow up interacting with their father, it’s a recipe for the social disaster that’s the black community today.
I have written about the disgraceful number (heading towards two million) of blacks (both male and female) imprisoned by this racist criminal-injustice system. I have written about the many black males who are paying into the social security system, but will die before reaching the retirement age. And about what apologizes for an education in the black community. And about the gun violence that’s plaguing the community: wherein more than half the murder victims nationwide are black. To put this into proper perspective you will have to accept census figures that claim blacks make up only one in seven of the US population. I have written about these and many other issues that need addressing like yesterday. So much so that my typing fingers are now sore.
Last month a national study verified something I have written about for years. It appears that the wealth-gap between blacks and whites has increased since 1980. The average white person is about 25 times wealthier than the average black person. When you compare Caucasians to Hispanics, the gap is a little under 20. Surprise! Surprise!
What can you expect when you live in a country that’s in racial denial? The real facts are even more sobering: the gap is wider than they are saying. This is something that can be traced back to the Reconstruction Era (more in part two of this column).
I am not claiming to be the only person writing about these things on the blogs; far from it. There are many folks who have been writing about these things months before me, and there will be many others next month- after I reduce my weekly output on this blog. My main point is this: from my observations, governmental response(s) to the many unique issues facing Blacks and Hispanics since 1973 (when I migrated here) have been painfully slow in its arrival.
Then last week I got a rather pleasant surprise. NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the launching of the “Young Men’s Initiative”. His public relations people are claiming that it will be the nation’s boldest and most comprehensive effort to tackle the broad disparities slowing the advancement of young Black and Latino men.
Through broad policy changes and agency reforms over the next three years, a public-private partnership will invest more than $127 million in programs that will connect young Black and Hispanic men to educational, employment and mentoring opportunities across more than a dozen city agencies.
Mayor Bloomberg announced the initiative at a breakfast co-hosted by the Council of Urban Professionals and the New America Alliance. In an obviously and deliberately staged speech, Bloomberg said: “When we look at poverty rates, graduation rates, crime rates, and employment rates, one thing stands out: blacks and Latinos are not fully sharing in the promise of American freedom, and far too many are trapped in circumstances that are difficult to escape.” He further added: “Even though skin color in America no longer determines a child’s fate - sadly, it tells us more about a child’s future than it should. (What did I just tell you about the continuing “denial”?)
The mayor continued:”And so this morning, we are confronting these facts head-on, not to lament them, but to change them, and to ensure that ‘equal opportunity’ is not an abstract notion but an everyday reality, for all New Yorkers.”
Deep down I really want to commend the mayor on this new initiative. And yet, as much as I want to praise him on one hand, I have to temper that with my critique(s) on the other hand.
What took you so friggin long man? Where have you been mister? Is this another snow-job? Is this all about your post-mayoral legacy? Is this all about raising your national stature/image?
This is the same mayor who cut the Peter Vallone scholarship, which offered a thousand dollars to high school students with a B-grade (or better) entering a CUNY college. This is the same mayor who cut money from the Black Male Initiative program: which was only one of the most imaginative new programs coming out of the council over the last decade. This is the same man who as mayor reduced spaces for those needing child care subsidies -while they work or seek to obtain employment.
This is the same man who as mayor took care of his rich business cronies over the last decade while simultaneously cutting Section Eight housing vouchers for the needy. This is the same mayor who cut summer jobs for city youth. The same mayor who refused to replace retiring teachers thus increasing class-sizes; who chose to close down fire stations; who chose to lay-off city workers; the man who has been surgically cutting city-services instead of increasing taxes on millionaires; who stopped incoming classes to the police academy; who gave homeowners the highest property tax increase ever; who perpetually sold out to rich developers; who chose to spend 100 million dollars on a single Shakespearean theater, rather than build 10 community centers; who treated Blacks and Hispanics with benign neglect; who arrogantly retreats to the Caribbean island of Bermuda every chance he gets (almost every weekend); who undermined democracy by overturning two plebiscites (term-limits for elected officials); who hired three unqualified education chancellors over public objection; and a man who has racked up an unenviable list of stupid policy-decisions and public statements since January 1st, 2002. A list too long for me to produce here.
This is the same man who inherited a city government wherein close to ninety percent of all city contracts go to whites (about 88% to white males), and has done nothing to alleviate that blatantly racial situation. This is a man who once insensitively said that minority parents don’t fully understand the issues around education in this city.
This is the same man -who along with his predecessor Rudy Giuliani- failed to improve on one of the cornerstones built by the David Dinkins mayoral-administration: The Beacon Programs. And remember that the “Beacon” programs trilaterally and simultaneously addressed needs of minority youth, education and crime in the big apple.
This is the same man who has stubbornly refused to reintroduce a stock-transfer tax on Wall Street. The same man who refuses to place a tax-surcharge on billionaires residing in this city. This is another mayor who has overseen the further renovation of many parts of Manhattan, into enclaves for the rich and powerful. A mayor set on doing the same to Downtown Brooklyn and western parts of Queens.
And now Mr. Schizophrenia (Bloomberg) comes up with this initiative. And maybe I shouldn’t question his motives and just accept that this initiative is sorely needed; but I can’t help myself. I am in a state of ambiguity and shock.
Maybe state senator John Sampson is totally correct in his approach to politics: moderation. He will proffer that any mayoral initiative addressing the striking needs of young Black and Hispanic men should be welcomed not questioned. He will probably tell you it is better late than never.
What can I say?
Folks; do stay tuned-in for part two of this column.