This December, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado named Tony Crapp Jr. City Manager. Crapp will be the city’s second African American City Manager.
Though this appointment represents an important role in the city’s governance, overall racial tensions and socio-economic gaps have plagued the city and threaten to relegate African Americans to a sort of second-hand status. Despite the symbolic gesture of a Hispanic mayor appointing a Black man to this important post, Miami sill has much work ahead to address social conditions impacting race relations.
Glitz and glam tend to dominate most people’s thoughts of Miami, but The Root’s Majorie Valbrun explains a very different view of the city.
There were too many police shootings of unarmed black men in Miami for my taste, and in the prior decade, one of the most notorious police shootings had led to violent riots. There was not a visible black middle-class community, although middle-class blacks were scattered about, but there were plenty of visibly poor and badly deteriorated black neighborhoods. African Americans were mostly politically marginalized and had even less economic power.
While Miami is “much more intelligent, sophisticated and cosmopolitan” than it used to be, black residents as a whole are not much more powerful, Oglesby says. Hispanics are now an even larger majority — they make up 60 percent of the population. Hispanics control most of the major government agencies, including the school board, the police department and other institutions. While this may be good for the Latino community, it doesn’t necessarily empower the non-Latino black community.
Woodard Byers says that Miami’s growing reputation as an international hub of wealthy Latin American immigrants and rich American movie stars and basketball players has not helped bring people together. “It has added so much focus on bling and not enough on the development of community itself,” she says, adding that this is partly why she started her blog.
“Blacks here as a whole still do not have very much political clout or political capital,” Oglesby says. “Hispanics are the dominant group in Miami, and they tend not to reach out to blacks, so that diminishes black political power in some respect. You won’t find strong black networks here like in Washington, D.C. It’s not a great place culturally to raise black kids.”