Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio was visibly disappointed with the decision rendered by Staten Island’s grand jury to not indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Unlike his predecessor, de Blasio has a personal stake in the racial strife that is gripping the nation. He made this clear during a press conference he gave to address the implications of Tuesday’s verdict. He emphasized the fact that having a son who could most likely be subjected to police brutality is a reality that he and his wife never forget. It is also a subject that both of them don’t take for granted which is why they both have made it a point to dutifully discuss the gravity of the situation with their son to ensure his safety by preparing him for unexpected encounters. “Because Chirlane and I had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him – as families have all over this city for decades – in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”

De Blasio’s Statement:

This is profoundly personal to me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens. And I said to him, I did.

Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him—as families have all over this city for decades—in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.

And that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome, because for so many of our young people, there’s a fear. And for so many of our families, there’s a fear.

So I’ve had to worry over the years. Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities—crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods—but is safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.

That’s the reality.

De Blasio also goes on to stress that he and his wife share a bond with families in the same boat, families who have sons that they are constantly worried about because of the dangers that lurk in the streets. And the often times deadly consequences that come with being a Black male – “So I’ve had to worry over the years. Chirlane’s had to worry. Is Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities – crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods – but is safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors”.

De Blasio also expressed his dismay that the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter had to be created, saying, “It’s a phrase that should never have to be said, It should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that black lives matter.”

It conforms to something bigger that you’ve heard come out in the protests in Ferguson and all over the country. This is now a national moment of grief, a national moment of pain and searching for a solution. And you’ve heard in so many places, people of all backgrounds utter the same basic phrase. They’ve said “Black lives matter.” And they said it because it had to be said. It’s a phrase that should never have to be said. It should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that black lives matter.

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  • ALM247

    I’m sure that the De Blasio’s have had this conversation many times with their son.

    What’s interesting is that we sometimes discuss racial ambiguity on this website, and Dante in my opinion is in even more danger than some children born of interracial couples, because Dante does not appear as racially ambiguous as some multi-racial children do.

    Put Michael Ealy (who has two Black parents) and Dante next to each other. If both Michael Ealy and Dante were unknown to the public, I bet that 75% of the people in this country would guess the wrong answer if asked which person was born of an interracial pairing.

    My point is that the way that we are treated by people is often based on perception. It doesn’t matter that Dante’s father is white. If some cop who lacks integrity and lacks a soul comes across Dante, he or she sees a BLACK male. The De Blasio’s realize this, and the rest of America needs to stop playing, wake up, and admit this.

    • Love.tweet.joi

      My first impression was that Dante was his stepson. I bet he gets that a lot.

    • ALM247

      I bet they have had some hair raising conversations at home once people realize that his father is both white and powerful

    • Love.tweet.joi

      Oh, you know it!

      Trust and believe Dante is being provided with exceptional, top-grade g.a.m.e. He will probably end up being powerful as well.

    • That is why I think Tiger Woods felt the NEED to come up with a “composite” word for his mixed-racial background. It seems like his Black features were too “prominent” for people to think otherwise.

  • Anthony

    Like Obama, these situations are a gut check. For his words to mean anything DiBlasio will have to have the stomach to go to war with his police department, and fire officers whose behavior is clearly violent. The union and a whole lot of white New York will fight him tooth and nail.

    • Tanielle

      I think the fact that this man realizes that his race privilege and political power do not extend to his son when it comes to state violence is very telling and important. It often takes having a personal stake in a fight to really be proactive about creating change so I think he might be up for the fight. That probably has a lot to do with him eliminating Bloomberg’s stop and frisk nonsense.

    • Love.tweet.joi

      For sure! Without a doubt!

    • Anthony

      The great advantage that DiBlasio has in this situation is that as a white man, his enemies cannot pull out the racial boogeyman images that they use on Obama. That said, their have horrible things written about his wife.

  • Love.tweet.joi

    Now that I realize that this is his biological son, I can’t help but wonder what it must be like to be born into white privilege and not actually have it. Most black people don’t know white privilege, but most of us can imagine what it must be like.

    For instance, my closest friend and ex-fiance has a white name complete with “the third” on the suffix. He has told me countless times about job interviews that he was surprised to land, only to be left waiting in the reception area. Those job interviews were rescheduled, only no one ever returned his calls for a future meeting.

    I can’t even pretend to understand because my mother gave me a famous black person’s name. However, I have been known to use Joi on my resume and have been hired over the phone. Still, after a couple of weeks on the job, I start to feel the climate change. Temp jobs rarely go permanent- especially if I mention my degree. The best job I ever had, my recruiter suggested I take my education off my resume. That job only went permanent because the plan was to make me a lower level employee and I would remain there as the others were promoted over me. I trained BILL and BILL got an offer to pick any position he wanted in the office. I cried to my father in the parking lot and my father suggested I stay with the company but transfer to another branch. I transferred to an office with THREE black managers (never seen that before or since). My Filipino manager promoted me several times and I was very successful there.

    A white guy I dated once offered to refer me to a company, but his mother worked there and who knows how he planned to explain away our “relationship”. My pride got in the way and I never spoke to him again.

    I know that white privilege is real; however, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with it. This could be one of the reasons many Black women don’t date White men.

    • Tanielle

      As a black woman in a relationship with a white man and very social justice minded I must say it is interesting to watch and a little annoying at times. There have been occurrences when my partner says the same exact thing I said but is given a much different response. At times I don’t even bother and simply as him to handle issues so I don’t have to deal with the BS and runaround I get. Thankfully, he isn’t one of those people who tries to pretend white privilege doesn’t exist because that would surely be a deal breaker.

    • Love.tweet.joi

      My cousin is married to a white man. He is understanding, supportive and genuine. They have a six year old daughter together. They had been dating since they were 14. They have been married for ten years and together sixteen. So, anyway, they are both army brats (their moms were in the army). They have lived all over the world together (they went to school in Germany!). So they currently live in Kentucky…they have lived there together before. Her husband is accustomed to white privilege – which includes a certain level of respect. He has quit jobs because the climate changes at work after they meet his wife and kid. It’s interesting because they don’t talk about social issues on a regular basis. Still, if someone is openly disrespecting black people, he has been known to shut it all the way down. I would like to talk to him about how he feels about living with “black disadvantage”. It has to be like the other side of the coin. Right?

    • ALM247

      And what is interesting is that that same white privilege allows your husband’s cousin to be able to quit a job without having to worry about being unemployed for a long time. He probably is able to find a good job pretty easily.

      Based on your comment, he also has veteran’s preference working in his favor.

    • Tanielle

      This is so true. My significant other is always talking about if things don’t work out at his current job he will just quit and have a new one within a week. I can’t fathom the idea of just leaving a job unless it was to the point where it was impacting my sanity or physical health.

    • Love.tweet.joi

      Not to mention, his family has generational wealth on his side too! Dude is “going back to school”. He has NEVER needed a degree- even as GM for a massive hotel chain. As a matter of fact, he quit there too. And he left on bad terms with management. Didn’t seem to affect his references.

    • ALM247

      Chile, I am glad that I am saved, because I could get depressed reading how privileged your cousin’s husband is.

      When I think of what the people in my family have gone through, with bachelor’s, master’s, juris doctorate’s and PhD’s in hand…..it’s enough to make you want to holler.

    • Brad

      Privilage and white privilage by proxy(i.e. marrying into it) surely has it’s advantages.

      But, on faith as a black man and or back woman you just have to realize that putting in the extra work and effort will more than likely pay off in the end.

      It may not come easier, and it may not come as quick but, one way or the other you’ll get there.

    • ALM247

      Thanks, Brad, I needed to hear that!

    • Brad

      Anytime…

    • Love.tweet.joi

      You could tell I was getting bitter LOL. You see how quickly he turned into “Dude”. Ha!
      Being saved is what keeps us going. That’s why it’s important not to let the younger generations “follow” these celebrities who are reppin’ satan. Jay Z being a satanist is not an accident. Black people are resilient. And that resilience comes from God. We can’t afford to turn away from God, ever.

    • ALM247

      Thanks, Love.Tweet.Joi, I needed to hear that!

    • Tanielle

      I actually would not call it “black disadvantage” but the ugly side of white privilege. For example, white racist automatically believe that all white people feel the same way and openly say very racist things feeling comfortable based on how your cousins husband looks. This puts him in the position to have to burn bridges by reacting to these incredibly racist statements. These are things these individuals would never say in mixed company or directly to a black person. My boyfriend has had to do the same in the past and has told be about the uncomfortable silence that follows after you confront a fellow white person on their blatantly racist statements.

    • Jo ‘Mama’ Besser

      Yep. I have a Scottish last name and am Canadian of Jamaican heritage and neither Canadian nor Jamaican people tend to name their kids in ways that aren’t conservative. I guess the comparison I can make is that my mum ‘code-switches’ from Patois to standard Canadian English depending on the situation, so you’ll still hear her accent. I imagine it’s the same thing in America vis-a-vis code-switching, that you still hear the accent, at least I hear it. I can’t code-switch and my sisters can’t either and because of geography we don’t sound any different from white people.

      My point is in that having my name and accent, people who don’t speak with me face to face assume that I’m white. And since I’m ‘one of them’ *shudder*, they don’t have to be ‘on’ and they can let it fly.

    • ALM247

      It is sad that you had to downplay your accomplishments in order to be able to secure a job. It’s always over qualified or under qualified…..it’s so frustrating.

    • Love.tweet.joi

      You’re right. It’s sad that I can’t put my real name on resumes and get a call back. Especially when the person I’m named after has never been ghetto, classless or poor a day in her life!
      I met a girl in Dallas with a master’s degree who couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get any type of job. I advised her to take her degree off. When she is permanent and looking for a promotion, she can whip it out then. And if she didn’t get the promotion, she might have a discrimination lawsuit. The secret is to get in the door.