It’s official…2022 is here and we must embrace new changes and brace ourselves for new challenges. Eric Adams has been sworn in as the 110th mayor of New York City. City Council members are getting to work and Adrienne Adams will be the new speaker of the city council, making her the first African American to serve in this important and prestigious role as the second most powerful person in New York City governance.
Mayor Adams is beginning to fill his cabinet with a myriad of women of color, making his administration one of the most diverse cabinets in the city’s history. Adams has said he is ready to work and has already begun to sign executive orders extending some of former Mayor de Blasio’s policies pertaining to COVID protections for New York City residents.
With most evaluations of people, I like to wait to see what elected officials actually do before making judgements about them. I am excited for new leadership in the city, largely due to feeling that Mayor de Blasio was disinterested in governance for many years of his tenure. Adams has stated many times that he wants to be the leader and cheerleader for New York City. I am excited to see his approach to COVID, education, public safety, and housing to start. However, I am somewhat concerned about one of Adam’s first policy proposals.
Adams has stated that he is going to reinstate solitary confinement on Rikers Island. This proposal is of grave concern to me. Psychologists, political scientists, historians, and sociologists have all researched solitary confinement and have unequivocally stated that solitary confinement does not work, it does not rehabilitate, and is inhumane for those subjected to it. That Adams would introduce this proposal as one of his first policy interests is of concern to me. What is even more concerning is when Adams was approached about this proposal, his response did not address the issue at hand. Adams essentially stated that if one has not worn a police badge then they could not question his decision to reinstate solitary.
First, as citizens of New York City, we can always challenge and ask the mayor questions. Second, being a police officer does not have anything to do with caging a human being for 23 hours a day. And last, Adams’ response does not follow the logic of questioning whether solitary should be reinstated or not. I do hope Mayor Adams will reconsider his decision and I hope some of his new cabinet members will help him rethink this inhumane practice that advocates previously worked so hard to diminish.
It’s a new year and I am excited for what 2022 will bring. I am hoping the Adams administration will lead New York City into an era of a more inclusive city for all. Time shall tell.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.