New York City Politics: Governing Gotham

By Bruce F. Berg | Go to book overview

5
Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Throughout New York City's history, racial and ethnic groups have looked to advance themselves up the economic and political ladders. For reasons of discrimination, choices made by the group's members, or circumstances connected to the economy and the political system when they arrived in the city, advancement up those ladders has not occurred at the same rate for each group. Groups assess their own socioeconomic and political status against the success or failure of other groups. Social relations among groups in the city are based in part on a group's relative position in the economic and political system. Where they live, where they work, and their ability to influence political outcomes all serve as indicators of this status.

The role of the political system in the city's social relations is complex and subtle. Groups want to be treated fairly and justly by the political system. This fairness certainly includes all of the constitutional rights of participation in the political process. Beyond the issues of procedural fairness, however, justice means being treated equally by the political system in a relative sense. If one group is being subjected to incidents of police brutality more than another group, then the victimized group may not perceive the political system as fair. If one group is receiving the benefits of a public program more than another group, then the group being shortchanged may also not view the political system as fair. In addition, if a group perceives that other groups are improving their economic or political status because of assistance from the political system, then the political system also will not be perceived as being fair. With few exceptions, procedural democracy and due process for all citizens have been achieved. What issues remain concern the specific treatment of groups by the city's political system and how that treatment affects relative group advancement up the economic and political ladders.

In August 1991, Blacks and Hasidic Jews faced off against one another in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in what was quite possibly one of the low points of

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New York City Politics: Governing Gotham
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: The Economic Development Imperative 20
  • 3: The State and the City 58
  • 4: The Federal Government and the City 88
  • 5: Racial and Ethnic Diversity 120
  • 6: Political Parties in New York City Governance 160
  • 7: The Charter, the Mayor, and the Other Guys 180
  • 8: The City Council 212
  • 9: The Municipal Bureaucracy 244
  • 10: Conclusion 281
  • References 293
  • Index 323
  • About the Author 339
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