New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In an insightful piece in Time magazine, John McWhorter admonishes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for calling Democratic mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio's campaign racist for drawing attention to his interracial family. He says it underscores Bloomberg's "tragically tin ear" on race relations.

Of course, to Mayor Bloomberg, de Blasio's calling attention to his black wife, mixed-race son with the big Afro, and the city's stop-and-frisk policies was "racist." Dead wrong — Bloomberg has done a great deal right for New York but he has a tragically tin ear on the race thing.

Few understand how central excessive stop-and-frisk policies are in teaching blacks and Latinos that they are aliens in their own land. Wonder why so many of them think of racism as a clear and present danger in 2013? Ask them and count the seconds until the cops come up.

Opinions will differ as to whether de Blasio should utterly discontinue stop-and-frisk as he has suggested, and doing as much stopping and frisking on the Upper East Side as in Bushwick would be performance art. However, under Bloomberg the policy has simply morphed far beyond the reasonable. No matter how you look at it, 120,000 black and Latino boys between 14 and 18 stopped in New York in 2012 was not a society functioning properly. 

As such, de Blasio placing his brown-skinned son in a tide-turning commercial was not a callow stunt. It was an articulate statement of intent about a crucial issue. It was more meaningful than Bill Thompson’s just being black himself, and it’s a sign of the times that the black community registered its meaning and gave so much of their vote to de Blasio despite his whiteness. De Blasio’s family situation shows that the stop-and-frisk problem is everybody’s issue, not just a “black” problem.


Read John McWhorter's entire piece at Time magazine.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


John McWhorter is a contributing editor at The Root. He is an associate professor at Columbia University and the author of several books, including Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. 

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