NYC Primary: Frustration in the South Bronx
Tracy Blount 32, of the South Bronx, is fed-up and disillusioned. As he left Chase bank on the corner of 161st in the South Bronx this afternoon, he made it clear that he couldn’t care less that voting for the New York City mayoral primaries was being held around the city.
“I don’t vote, I feel voting is a form of appeasement, nothing ever changes,” he said. “I have a bias, of course, but no candidate is about making changes, they all say ‘we’re speaking to the middle class,’ yet no candidate has said anything that has to do with me. I am a poor black man. Poor people get left in the dust.”
Dressed in neat cargo pants and an army green shirt Blount is eager to voice his thoughts and opinions about his community. He believes change has not come in the Bloomberg era, and will not come anytime soon with a new mayor.
According to the US Census Bureau the median household income in the Bronx is less than $34,000 with 26% of families living below poverty level, compared to Manhattan where households on average earned $127,000 it is the poorest of the New York boroughs. But its problems do not lie simply in poverty; of the 17 schools closed this year by the Department of Education five of them were in the Bronx. Even the best schools in the area tested only between 50 and 65% proficiency in English and Math for 5th-8th grade, with the worst coming in at less than 20%.
A self-described radical revolutionist, Blount doesn’t see a new mayor bringing any of the changes he hopes to see in the Bronx.
“What about education? Testing puts pressure on schools to perform and they are still failing,” he said. “What about prison reform? No one wants to talk about that, yet there are alarming rates of incarceration, and minorities lose out.”
He said the Bronx is not far behind Philadelphia where there is little money left to fund public schools. putting schools on the brink of shutting down.
“I’m afraid that’s where were headed here,” he said.
Blount said while issues like education and crime are talked over, plans outlining solutions about the schools are vague and leave constituents wanting more. While all candidates have expressed their opinions about the current controversial stop and frisk policy by the NYPD, implemented by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, none has voiced any concern over incarceration, he said.
Blount believes the way the city can change is to build our communities, from the inside.
“We need to speak to our neighbors and think for ourselves,” he said. “The answer is not in bureaucracy, or politics to change things. The power is in us, the change has to come from within.”