Racism and the Transit Strike
First, check out the racial breakdowns of folks' reactions to the strike:
From the Wednesday, December 21st WNBC/Marist Poll
The blame game
Question Wording: Who is more to blame for the transit strike the transit workers union or the MTA?
Question Wording: Overall, do you favor or oppose the transit workers union decision to strike?
This racial gulf is affirmed in this NY1 Poll:
Thirty-five percent of white residents blame the union over the MTA, while only 12 percent of African-Africans and 17 percent of Latinos do.
New Yorkers of different races are also split over whether the union's demands are fair. Less than half - 38 percent - of white New Yorkers do, while nearly three-quarters of both African-American and Latinos find the TWU's proposals are fair. Three times as many white New Yorkers say the union is more to blame for the strike than African-American New Yorkers.
So depending on which poll you believe, whites blamed the union either two or three times as much as blacks did (with Latinos more in the middle). It's like the difference between what Red and Blue states believe to be the facts about Iraq. The views are mutually contradictory, completely irreconcilable. Unfortunately, in the case of the transit strike, white people dominate the media. To read the headlines of any of the dailies this week was to read the venom of white people pissed off at black people.
As a friend of mine emailed,
I think the whole reaction to the transit strike is racist. I've seen these blogs run by white liberal Ivy league NYC newbies who post pictures of black or Latino MTA workers asleep in the ticket booth with captions that deride their "labor." Meanwhile, they are sitting in Madison Ave. offices stealing company bandwidth and time so that they can post stupid thoughts about stupid movies in between checking gawker and craigslist. What happened to worker solidarity?
I blogged earlier about how fucked up and racialized this "lazy transit worker" meme was. It reminds me a lot of Reagan's mythical "welfare queen," the lazy black woman trying to steal "our" money.
It wasn't just individual racist reactions to the strike. It wasn't just Bloomberg's racial code of calling the strikers "thugs." There were substantive issues about race at the heart of the strike.
As train operator Douglas Brown said to NY 1, "This is New Orleans all over again. We're fighting for pension benefits. When this union was Italian and Irish they had a 20-year pension."
The polls suggest that black people got this. The headlines, TV reports, blogs, and anecdotal evidence suggest that white people couldn't have cared less.
Tags: MTA, subway strike, news and politics, New York, racism, transit strike, welfare queen, Bloomberg, Marist poll, racist, media bias