The cancellation of the New York Marathon is a very emotional event for me. Not just because diverting resources for this event in the face of so much hardship and suffering was just wrong, but because the ground swell of protest against this came from the people of outer borough New York that this Mayor, and the global elites he socializes with and represents, do not understand
The neighborhoods of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island are a world apart from those in Manhattan. They are filled with immigrants and their descendants who do the bulk of the hard labor in the city, whether it is running and repairing our transportation systems, working in hospitals and nursing homes, teaching in schools, serving as police, sanitation workers or firefighters, doing the entry level jobs in our restaurants, hotels and stores, or doing construction or working in city agencies.
Many of them live in neighborhoods which have the atmosphere of ethnic villages where outsiders are looked upon with suspicion; others in mixed communities where people of different backgrounds coexist, sometimes uneasily, sometimes well.
But though the people of these communities don’t always like or trust one another, and certainly don’t vote uniformly- just compare the political party affiliations of people in Staten Island with those of people in the Bronx -- they have a common suspicion of privilege, a respect for the hard work it takes, legal or illegal, to keep a family above water, and a nose for hypocrisy, or to use the vernacular, bull…t.
And all of those instincts came into play when the Mayor announced his plans to go ahead with the Marathon. The cops, the firefighters, the EMS workers, the nurses, the Blacks, the Whites, the Latins and the Asians, the people who lost private homes, and the people who were trapped in housing projects, all looked at this and said “No”
The people working 36-hour shifts helping bring the city back and those without food and water and electricity began speaking in one voice, to the press, to their elected officials, to one another, and to anyone they could reach on social media, to say this was a grave insult to all of them and shocking sign of the insensitivity of a Mayor who was comfortable expecting limitless sacrifices form them while pulling out the red carpet for out of town guests
And finally people started listening. The future Mayoral candidates, one by one, spoke out. Then the newspapers, then some marathon runners themselves. And the Mayor’s advisors too, warning him that people were so angry that the runners might not be safe
Mark Naison: So the event was cancelled. Not because the Mayor came to his senses. But because outer borough New York had risen in revolt.
And the city dodged a bullet at a time when the last thing it needed was conflict and division from the task of putting the infrastructure back together and rescuing those in distress.
With A Brooklyn Accent
Posted: Saturday, 3 November 2012