Donald Sterling, Stephen A. Smith & NYC Racial Politics

ronn torossian prWhile the Donald Sterling saga and debates about race continue, is not it great that New York City is largely invisible in this story about race, and NYC media isn’t jumping on this bandwagon? As a 39-year old born and bred New Yorker, I remember the racial fears that existed in this city when I was growing up. Who can forget the racial politics of this city in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s which seem like so long ago?

Abner Louima & the Crown Heights Riots? Were those really in the ‘90’s? I remember so clearly being at Stuyvesant High School and school ending early in 1991 when the Rodney King riots erupted – and how the city was gripped with fear. How I remember dreading my 1.5 hour train rides on the graffiti-filled subways.

Those of us who gripe today about bicycle lanes, and the Disneyfication of Times Square should be thankful for these gripes.

The comments of billionaire technology mogul, Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban aren’t featured in our local tabloids – and can one imagine the uproar in years past in response to his comments, “I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street.” (Where else in America do people “walk down streets” – aren’t people driving everywhere else?)

Today, as Queens native Stephen A. Smith of ESPN defends Cuban, New York media is not all over the story as they would have been years ago. As a New Yorker who grew up in this great city, how wonderful is it that the racial politics and dangers of this city are by and large gone?

With a hot summer approaching, one should be thankful that of all the fears New Yorkers have, racial tensions is not very high on that list. Race relations in this city — with a bi-racial family occupying City Hall – are thankfully better than ever.

Ronn Torossian is a resident of the Upper West Side, CEO of 5WPR, and author of “For Immediate Release.

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