Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Martin Luther King Day should be an ideal time for politicians to go high, as Michelle Obama once put it, but Eric Adams decided instead to go low — very low. "Go back to Iowa!" snarled the Brooklyn borough president and New York City mayoral candidate in a screed that has propelled into national fame. "You go back to Ohio! New York City belongs to the people that [were] here and made New York City what it is."
Adams' vulgar opposition of natives who belong vs. foreigners who don't, locals vs. outsiders, and black vs. white (Iowa is over 92% Caucasian) earned him justified comparisons to our presidential divider-in-chief. But not only does his message ignore the racial and ethnic churn that has always defined Gotham, it wildly distorts the multicultural reality of New York's dramatic transformation over the past two decades.
Yes, New York City has witnessed the arrival of crowds of college-educated newcomers, most, though not all, of them white since 1980. They came because that's where they could find the most desirable jobs in finance, marketing, media, the arts and, more recently, tech. And, yes, these workers needed places to live, which has put tremendous pressure on the city's housing market and produced galling stories of rent hikes, displacement and homelessness.
But here's the thing Adams and the gentrification-obsessed ignore: Most of New York's new arrivals are not people who had the bad luck of being born in Des Moines or Dayton; they're from abroad. Domestic migration into New York from within the U.S. has been declining over the past eight years. It's international migration and a rising birth to death ratio that boosted the city's population numbers to record highs.
The Department of City Planning estimates that between 2010 and 2018, the city saw a net 768,306 New Yorkers leave the city, while 479,960 arrived from foreign shores. Thirty-seven percent of New York City residents are foreign-born. That number also applies to Brooklyn, Adams' home borough and ground zero for Gotham gentrification.
You would never guess from Adams' rant that, taken as a whole, New York City is actually more diverse than it was 25 years ago. In 1990, 43% of the five boroughs were white, according to the Census Bureau. By 2010, the figure was only 33%. During those same years, the city's population increased by a full one million. As it happens, most of those new arrivals were not white, but people of color, largely from Asia and Latin America.
Comments: Post a Comment