Michael Bloomberg and the Benevolent White Daddy Syndrome | NewBlackMan (in Exile)


by David J. Leonard

Hypocrisy is nothing new for America’s politicians. It is one of the few postures that remains bipartisan.

This is certainly evident as Michael Bloomberg pushes forward his assault on big sodas alongside his assault on constitutional rights and human dignity with his harmful stop and frisk policy. “For someone who wants to make sure people don’t smoke, waste energy, shoot each other with military-style firearms, or eat a bagel that’s way too big, you don’t express similar urgency when it comes to Black and Latino youth being violated on the streets of New York City,” writes Michael Arceneaux.

Stop and Frisk “has done absolutely nothing to make the city’s streets safer, and instead, fuels the fires of the already tense relationship between people of color and the police? Why focus on all off that when you can walk around telling people what not to eat and drink? Meanwhile, the heads of minority youth are buried into the concrete,” Acreneaux continues.

When defending big soda bans or cigarette concealment Bloomberg consistently notes health and safety, yet as Arceneaux notes, where is the concern for health, safety, dignity, life, and humanity with stop and frisk. Hypocrisy indeed.

Yet, on another level the soda ban and stop and frisk policy operate through the same racist ideologies: white paternalism. In both instances, Bloomberg and others claim discipline and punishment as necessary for the sake of safety, order, and protecting. They both are thought to be “preventative;” they are considered as policies thought to protect the law-abiding from poor choices, from dangerous values, and harmful things. They are considered interventions for bodies of color who obviously need to be controlled by the state.

Bloomberg defends his march on soda by invoking the kids, “I’ve got to defend my children, and yours, and do what’s right to save lives…Obesity kills. There’s no question—it kills…We believe that the judge’s decision was clearly in error, and we believe we will win on appeal.”

Given soda industries targeting of black and Latino youth, and the lack of concern for the turnstile refills at America’s finest restaurants, Bloomberg’s crusade against cola is wrapped up in the logics of race and class. You have to look no further than the exemption of coffee drinks; a massive mocha offers a whopping 360 calories, 19 g of fat, and more than a little bit of sugar. A blended version nets almost 500 calories, yet because it has milk, not to worry, all is supposedly good. The hipsters of Williamsburg have little to worry about as Bloomsberg’s Pepsi police are on the case at 7-11, making sure that sugar + coffee + milk remains the breakfast of (Wall-Street) champions.

Bloomsberg’s class and race-based logic of paternalism and protection, of saving black and brown youth from purported pathologies and dangers isn’t reserved for the soda fountain but also guides his policing policy.

“We are not going to walk away from a strategy that we know saves lives,” noted Mayor Bloomberg. He went on to say, “At the same time, we owe it to New Yorkers to ensure that stops are properly conducted and carried out in a respectful way.”

Scoffing at suggestions that stops should mirror population numbers in the city, he added, “If we stopped people based on census numbers, we would stop many fewer criminals, recover many fewer weapons and allow many more violent crimes to take place. We will not do that. We will not bury our heads in the sand.”

Continue reading at Michael Bloomberg and the Benevolent White Daddy Syndrome | NewBlackMan (in Exile).

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