The Changing Face of New York City

Bill de Blasio celebrates with his family

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time”- Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing.

On Tuesday November 5, 2013 the time had finally come for citizens to vote for the new 109th mayor of New York City, as the 11 year reign of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg came to an end. Despite being voted back into office countless times to the point where Bloomberg made his own laws to stay in position longer, New York City residents were ready for their thoughts, demands and cries to be answered. They were ready for a change. Winning in a landslide with 73 percent of the votes leaning in his favor, city residents ultimately decided that they wanted 52-year-old Bill De Blasio to take on this challenge.

Born on May 8th, 1961 in Manhattan, Bill de Blasio embodies the diversity and change that the voters wish to see in our city.  Not only is he the first democrat to hold office in 20 years, but he also makes promises to restrain the highly controversial and debated police stop-and-frisk tactics and reduced income inequality that has pervaded our city. It seems that Bill De Blasio plans to break many barriers while serving his first term of office in 2014—whether it’s going against the status quo or simply because he’s a Caucasian male politician in power with an African-American wife and interracial family.

Bill De Blasio ironically stands now, in U.S. history, as one of the first white politicians to be elected to major office or power role with a black spouse. This is important because in politics there exists a huge stigma of interracial marriage and the impact it may have on a candidates campaign, family life and career. For instance, William Cohen, former secretary of defense and senator of Maine, is married to an African-American woman who denied his wedding proposals several times in their relationship in fear of her race hurting his future political opportunities.

This way of thinking stems all the way back to slavery, segregation and the Jim Crow laws, that made dating outside of your race whether that be black, Indian, or Hispanic, illegal and taboo. Thankfully though, as more time passes, we as Americans have adapted and seen “the light.” We now know that love is pure, innocent and shouldn’t be determined by the color of your skin.

According to a July Gallop pole, 87 percent of Americans now approve of interracial marriage, which is the highest rate ever, compared only four percent of people approving it in 1958. And in 2010 more than 15 percent of marriages were interracial according to the Pew Research Center.

As our new mayor and “First Family” get ready to move in starting this January, his appointment leaves us with the thoughts of the past, present, and what’s to come. Thoughts of how we have all come very far as American in the last few decades, and how we still have much to work on and improve. Whether it’s prejudged or constructive views on race, laws, or interracial against. As De Blasio would says:  “The road ahead will be difficult, but it will be traveled.”

by Juliana Durrant ’16