Young Men's Initiative: The White Mayor's Burden

Bloomberg aims to help the young black and Latino men he has been throwing in jail for a decade

Just how big is the force of School Safety Agents? If they made up a stand-alone police department, Lieberman says, they'd comprise "the fifth-largest in the nation . . . There are more School Safety Agents than there are cops on the streets of Baltimore, Newark, Detroit, Boston, [or] Washington, D.C."

To put in perspective how absurd their power is, how zero tolerance can go awry, and how out-of-touch the mayor is regarding the effect this has on boys of color, Lieberman tells the story of a student named Biko Edwards.

Biko was a student at Samuel J. Tilden High School, which Lieberman characterizes as "the worst school on the list. It was an educational disaster."

"Biko and his mom came in because he was beaten and arrested for being late to class," Lieberman says. "He was staying late to talk to his math teacher, and he didn't get a pass, and he was running to chem lab. And he got nabbed, beat up, Maced," by a School Safety Agent, Lieberman describes. "He was arrested, sent to central booking, and then suspended for four days. And his grades went from decent to plummet."

Lieberman says she found out Biko was a good soccer player, and said to him: "'Look, how do you feel about this school? Are you comfortable going back to school?' And he said, 'I'm scared.' And we arranged for him to look at other schools, and he ultimately transferred to MLK, which has the premier soccer team in the city."

Biko, she says, "was a star player on the team. He's in college now . . . and he played on the farm team for the MetroStars," the New York region's professional soccer club (now the Metro Red Bulls).

While still in high school, Biko had the chance to go to Gracie Mansion the year MLK won the championships.

There's a picture of the team posing with the mayor there. Bloomberg is kneeling, surrounded by handsome young black and brown boys. He grins awkwardly like Daddy Warbucks, an oblivious great white hope enveloped by people he wouldn't normally hang with (but whom his white man's burden would, years later, compel him to aid).

And standing right next to him, smiling just as awkwardly, is Biko.

"The mayor has no idea that his school 'safety' policies put this kid in jail overnight and left him battered and forced out of his high school," Lieberman says quietly.

There is a lot exciting in the Young Men's Initiative. But judging from what it leaves out, it seems that Bloomberg is still just as oblivious about how his policies harm the very population he now wants to help as he was when he was grinning next to Biko.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com

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12 comments
Bayview200947
Bayview200947

Bloomberg only cares about his own people. Personally I can"t stand him. Bloomberg only cares about the rich people. He believes all his money will go with him when his time comes.

Mr B
Mr B

As always, the problem in this society is the SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW by white police. If we are to have racial harmony in this society this problem needs to be stopped by police, prosecutors, judges, and politicians. This notwithstanding the idiocies of the Fox network which continues to insist that the only form of racism in America is reverse racism.

Sakara
Sakara

wall street protesters are 99.9 percent white

Investigate-NWO-globalists
Investigate-NWO-globalists

Bloomturd is a multi-billionaire corporatist. He & his meat puppet, Ray Kelly, can not be trusted!

Salome
Salome

If you think Bloomberg's sudden philanthropy has nothing to do with a desire to stay in the political spotlight, you need to stop smoking weed yourself. Speaking of breaking the law, having screwed NYC into three terms as mayor, Bloomberg has set his political sights higher, and he knows he needs to build a base of goodwill among black and brown voters. So he's attacking from two sides: disenfranchising as many black people as possible with felony convictions, while simultaneously promoting himself as a good guy with his very public charity.

If Bloomberg was soooo concerned with the plight of black men, you would think he would start by paying Dennis Walcott the same salary he paid Walcott's unqualified predecessor.

Greg Whitaker
Greg Whitaker

Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releasing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ.

Thanks for your support.

Greg Whitaker
Greg Whitaker

Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releasing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ.

Thanks for your support.

tensity1
tensity1

Off-topic, but trying to spread the word.

There's a petition at We the People (White House site) to shed light on government obfuscation of unsound drug policy:

http://wh.gov/gKN

Thanks for checking it out.

Glen
Glen

"What color and gender were most of those arrestees?

Frederique says about 3,000 of them were in Brownsville. Were 3,000 black people—about 80 a day—really walking around all lit up on the street?"

While it is important to note the disproportionate arrest of minorities for these unoffensive offenses, the math here is unfortunately a bit off: 3000 arrests in a year = just of 8 per day (not 80).

crookedE
crookedE

At first, the self-congratulatory rollout of this program made me angry because Bloomberg refuses to raise taxes on his fellow millionaires (what rich guy wants to make an anonymous donation?) and would rather have a "public-private partnership" where all the rich donors can have their name on a stop-and-repeat. Now I'm angry about it for a whole bunch of other reasons.

bl1y
bl1y

But, I keep reading about male privilege, so obviously it's not true that 90% of the arrests were of males.

 
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