I am typically happy with a Yolanda Adams spotting, but her latest gig, performing “America The Beautiful” at Mike Bloomberg’s launch of “Mike For Black America,” had me crying out to God.
I understand that Adams sings for The Lord, and God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son whose sacrifice was so great that even Bloomberg can get a nice Christian woman like Adams to bless his exercise in an oligarchy with her angelic voice. And she has performed for five American presidents, so in terms of singing for terrible people, what’s one more Republican to croon about the country for?
Yet, I can’t help but think that during his time as mayor of New York City, Bloomberg could have plausible subjected Jesus Christ, a Palestinian refugee, to either being spied on or if nothing else, certainly to being stopped and frisked. Did she think of that when she hit the note (any of them)? As for the Black folks who filled that room, I wonder if at any moment did anyone pause to reflect on stop and frisk and all its victims, who look just like them. And if they did, did they then reflect on how Bloomberg defended that racist policy up until the very moment he decided to seek the nomination for president from the political party where Black people’s support is a necessity?
If the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner did, it didn’t stop him from offering the following endorsement of the Bloomberg for president campaign anyway: “As mayor, Mike embraced New York’s diversity and made smart investments that brought better infrastructure and greater opportunity to all five boroughs.”
Others would highlight how inequality grew under Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor. As did the housing crisis. Who fares well under these conditions? The well-to-do white people in the media based in New York that keep giving the man that’s spent hundreds of millions in television advertisements free advertising by talking about him incessantly but never bother to invite those who could offer a fuller testimonial about Bloomberg’s tenure.
Bloomberg has earned the endorsements of more than 100 mayors — including prominent Black mayors like Turner of Houston in addition to Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C., Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, Calif., Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, S.C., and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the first Black woman and second woman overall to be elected mayor of the city.
Bloomberg says the endorsements signal that mayors nationwide “show the hunger local leaders have for real leadership in the White House.” If you’ve read anything about Bloomberg’s massive amount of money spent through his philanthropic efforts, too, you may wonder if Bloomberg’s support is more so an exercise of a benefactor calling in his debts than a proven politician being touted for what he’s done.
That money has done some good, to be sure, particularly with respect to gun control rights. That’s why I do understand select cases such as Congresswoman Lucy McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was murdered in November 2012 spurred her to become a gun advocate and eventually successful run for Congress, I understand her when she says, “Nobody running for president has done more for the gun violence prevention movement than Mike.”
But, it appears that while there is no stipulation that acceptance of Bloomberg’s donations means they can’t ever publicly criticize him or his record, people dependent on his money are aware of the risks in doing so. As said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good-government group Common Cause, explained to the New York Times, “They aren’t going to criticize him in his 2020 run because they don’t want to jeopardize receiving financial support from him in the future.”
The quote is followed by an example of one organization that has accepted money from Bloomberg removing mentions of Bloomberg’s anti-Muslim bias in a published version of a report centered on it.
I can’t help but think those Black mayors have similar concerns. Bloomberg’s charitable contributions have benefited many good causes, but these should be considered acts of contrition from a man whose rhetoric and policy called for atonement, not receipts on Bloomberg to call on when collecting support for his greatest pursuit of power yet. As much as I worry about four more years of our current nightmare, I refuse to buy into the notion that the answer is a Republican billionaire who went out of his way to make the lives of Black people hell at any given second on any given day in New York City when he was mayor.
I can’t trust a person who promises to help Black people with no specifics and whose apologies for expanding racist policies are shallow and dubiously-timed. Those that elect to do so have their right, and I understand how desperately they might need Bloomberg’s money. But money isn’t everything, and in the case of Mike Bloomberg, no amount of money in the world can make me forget what he did to Black people as mayor of New York and there should be no dollar amount he can spend to make everyone else.
To do so would allow him to not only buy the Black vote but for the cheap.