Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I know you’re working to solidify your legacy as Oz the Great and Powerful, but do you ever stop and say to yourself, “Who am I to tell the people of New York City that they can’t have one too many lemon pepper wings and freeze pops?” Based on your behavior, I assume not. Goodness, it must be fantastic to be rich, old, and White. I wish I could get that as a Christmas present.
Don’t get me wrong now. You do have good intentions when you go full nanny on NYC. Like, maybe I don’t need transfat in my cheesecake. Granted, I shouldn’t expect something called a "cheesecake"—as in a cake made of CHEESE— to be remarkably healthy. But if you’re helping people get one less love handle, well, what’s not to love?
I’ve got to say, though, you really ruined French fries for me with your requirement that restaurants post the calorie counts of their items—a trend that has since spread all across the country. Then again, as your 2010 sodium reduction initiative to cut sodium levels in prepackaged foods reminds me, a Negro male, salt isn’t meant to be BFFs with my body.
So no, these aren’t all bad ideas per se, but aren’t you a bit overbearing? Justice Milton A. Tingling of State Supreme Court in Manhattan seems to think so when striking down your ban on large sugary drinks, calling the limitations “arbitrary and capricious.” Which makes sense, considering that Starbucks and 7-Eleven somehow got a pass to keep selling 24-ounce Frappuccinos and 64-ounce Big Gulps, both of which are liquid sugar diabetes.
How pissed off were you when the judge shut you down? Did you have to go off and swim in your vault of gold like Uncle Scrooge?
I’ve got to say, Money Making Mike, I do agree with you that kids don’t need to be downing gallons of soda.
Vowing to appeal you said, “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.”
Meanwhile, you are now proposing a law that forbids the public of display tobacco products and will keep cigarettes under the counter or behind curtains. Your logic can once again be boiled down to “Think of the children.”
Do you want to know why you irritate the hell out of people with all of this even with said “good intentions?” That is, besides the nosiness of it all and playing right into the menacing liberal stereotype. Much of it has to do with the reality that while whether or not you are right in these initiatives remains debatable, your inconsistency in the ways in which you show how you care about the youth is not.
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.
Testifying in a federal class-action lawsuit that challenges the New York Police Department’s stop and frisk policy, Officer Adhyl Polanco reportedly testified that his superiors reportedly “set quotas for arrests and stops in his precinct, and that those who did not meet them faced shift changes and a loss of overtime.” According to the eight-year NYPD vet, “They called it productivity.”
And yet, you went before a Black congregation to say while you will not tolerate racial profiling, you won’t “deny reality” either.
You said: “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.”
But what about the statistics hat have proven that all stop and frisk is good for is abuse and harassment? What about the fact that 9 out of 10 stops have turned up no illegal contraband? That a mere 0.2 percent of them have turned up guns? That the practice 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.
I might not like the way you go about enacting your advice, Mr. Bloomberg, but if I felt like you were more consistent in showing you care for all people, I’d be more inclined to say more folks should respect your efforts.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where on the surface the shade might make the culprit want to curse, but trust, it comes from a place of concern. Tweet him at @youngsinick.