Gerson Borrero

Is Mayor de Blasio's administration too white?

February 1, 2016  |


While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spent the last several days in Iowa performing campaign grunt work – knocking on doors and talking to Iowans on behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton – back here in New York, the city he was elected to run, one neoyorquino is asking an important question.

His name is Angelo Falcón, the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, and he has been researching and analyzing the racial and ethnic makeup of New York City government since Ed Koch ruled the metropolis. Falcón’s assessment is that de Blasio has been attempting to practice a form of trickle-down progressivism that in practice has had a paternalistic effect on New York City’s communities of color.

When we spoke on Sunday, Falcón was poring over a report that he's writing titled, “Maintaining Male White Privilege In New York City?” Falcón gave me a sneak peek at the report ahead of its release on Thursday morning, at least 10 hours before the mayor’s State of the City speech.

“Whites are overrepresented in (mayoral) appointments by almost twice their representation in the population, while Asians, Blacks and Latinos are significantly underrepresented,” Falcón states in his report.

He also points out that, “Among people of color, Latinos are by far the most underrepresented, while Blacks and Asians are underrepresented to roughly the same degree.”

The timing of the report is deliberate. One of the topics de Blasio is expected to address in his speech is how white females have been impacted by his administration’s hiring practices.

Falcón addresses that very point in his report: “The underrepresentation of white women raises concerns about the role of gender within a context of the continuing problem of white male privilege. At the same time, the overrepresentation of women among underrepresented Latinos raises questions about the impact of this gender overrepresentation on their overall participation in city government. The de Blasio appointments have reflected gender parity for Asians and Blacks.”

Another interesting finding in the report, which cuts against de Blasio’s progressive philosophy, is that the racial and ethnic disparities in the mayor’s appointments have increased over time. Over the first two years of de Blasio’s administration, “the White share of his appointments increased from 48 to 61 percent. Since November 2015, while the Latino share of appointments increased from 10 to 14 percent, that of Blacks and Asians decreased slightly.”

Falcón does give the mayor some credit for trying to respond in earnest to external pressure by Latino leaders, but believes he’s still falling short: “As Mayor de Blasio has been under increasing criticism from Latino leaders about his poor record of Latino appointments, it appears that his response to this pressure has been to lower his rate of black and Asian appointments to maintain the overrepresentation of whites in city employment. However, despite this increase, Latinos remained the most underrepresented group among Mayor de Blasio’s appointments. “

We don't know what, if any, impact de Blasio’s rigorous three days of campaigning will have on the final outcome of the Iowa caucus. Like most neoyorquinos, Falcón could give a pig’s tail about that. What Falcón does care about is having a city government where the racial, gender and ethnic identities of employees are far more reflective and representative of the City’s residents. Let’s see if the mayor ignores this problem when he delivers his State of the City speech in the Bronx.

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