Bloomberg calling de Blasio’s campaign racist is inadvertently racist

Christina Coleburn, Contributing Columnist

Just when many New Yorkers believed Mayor Michael Bloomberg was incapable of issuing a more absurd statement, the mogul turned mayor defied his naysayers with a presumptuously personal and racially-charged attack on mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio, the public advocate who is both the front-runner to succeed Bloomberg and the greatest threat to his legacy. In an interview with New York Magazine, Bloomberg unleashed harsh words about the surging candidate, claiming that the Italian-American de Blasio had run a “racist” campaign by “making an appeal using his family to gain support,” a pointed reference to the campaign ads which feature de Blasio’s black wife, Chirlane McCray, and their son, Dante.

While these characterizations of de Blasio are extremely insulting, they also reveal a troubling irony of Bloomberg’s mentality. Though Bloomberg governs the most racially diverse city in the world, he cannot grasp the notion that his characterization of de Blasio as racist is, by virtue, inadvertently racist. Politicians of all echelons have relied on their families to offer an intimate arc to their campaigns, and Bloomberg never protested the extensive profile of Christine Quinn’s wife in the Aug. 19 edition of the New York Times. The only tangible distinction between his wife and son and the wives and sons of other candidates is that de Blasio’s family happens to be racially mixed.

Whether accidentally or intentionally, Bloomberg’s incendiary jab extends beyond the already offensive parameters of trivializing de Blasio’s 19-year marriage and suggesting the candidate would exploit his family for political gain. By means of his inflammatory statement, Bloomberg perpetuates the disparaging stereotype that interracial relationships are purely for social exhibition, and sponsors the narrow-minded notion that multiracial children should first be characterized by their mixed heritage rather than personal qualities.

The best case for his candidacy was not founded on their diverse complexions, but in his son’s eponymously titled television ad. With his friendly stare and gallant afro, 15-year-old Dante masterfully articulates his father’s appeal with one resounding line: “He is the only Democrat with the guts to really break from the Bloomberg years.”

These 15 words perfectly encapsulate Bill de Blasio’s impressive surge in the polls, attributing his 39 percent lead to his staunch opposition of Bloomberg’s socioeconomic policies. From highlighting de Blasio’s commitment to affordable housing to humanizing his resistance to stop-and-frisk policy, Dante advocates for his father in a fashion that must certainly have Bloomberg fearing for his legacy. Though his unsubstantiated smear of de Blasio clearly reflects his desperation to maintain his overreaching influence, New Yorkers should consider the racial connotations within Bloomberg’s attack to be his most pitiable offense.

Christina Coleburn is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected].