• December 22, 2014
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Queens Chronicle

Diversify FDNY

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

I was very disturbed with the tone and tenor of your editorial in the March 20 edition of your newspaper, “The high price to pay for diversity.”

You echo the false claims of the Bloomberg administration that the city did not “purposely discriminate against minority applicants to the FDNY” ... although the Vulcan Society presented voluminous amounts of evidence in its lawsuit filed in 2007, sufficient enough for the U.S. District Court to rule in favor of the Vulcan Society against the city, five years later.

Were it not for this just ruling by the Federal Court, these thousands of African Americans and Latinos, who were certainly victims, would not have received the justice they deserve.

I am reluctant to put a “price” on the emotional damage to individuals who suffered, or to say what just compensation is. How do we repair and make whole the individual’s humiliation, loss of dignity and self respect, and perhaps a sense of hopelessness associated with such discrimination?

The monetary award as part of the legal settlement will help, accompanied by a fair and unencumbered opportunity to now join the FDNY, based on their individual abilities.

But if you really feel that this monetary “settlement” was a “high price to pay for diversity,” you show glaring ignorance of the institutional racism and bias that has plagued this city for years. Furthermore, you make no mention of the enormous costs of public funds spent by the Bloomberg administration to “defend” their position. Few in the press have asked the basic question: Why are there so few minorities in the New York City Fire Department? And what is the administration doing about it. Instead, the Bloomberg administration spent millions to “defend” a lost cause. As you point out, the FDNY now has a chief diversity officer, which costs.

Additionally, we now witness the other federal lawsuit recently settled against the Bloomberg administration’s stop and frisk policy, where the city spent millions to “defend” an illegal policy. The NYPD now has an inspector general, which costs.

There seems to be a mindset in the press that somehow grievances blacks and Latinos have don’t always warrant the basic fairness and objectivity of those voiced by their white counterparts. I believe that the settlement monies these aggrieved applicants receive can never compensate them for the harm experienced by such an evil policy.

Elmer H. Blackburne
District Leader, 29th Assembly District, Part B

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