I woke up this morning and had a profound epiphany. It wasn’t a new thought, but it was a persistent thought that I have been unable to escape. New York City needs order. The rise in criminal activity, unemployment coupled with fear and anxiety in the midst of an ongoing pandemic are the perfect ingredients for the continued decline of a nation whose claims to American exceptionalism have faded long ago in the eyes of those who truly study the history of the American experiment.
We are all collectively living in a horror movie that was thought to be unthinkable prior to March of 2020, when even the greatest city in the country ostensibly shut down under the crushing weight of COVID-19. In any horror film, there exist several basic elements. A main character, a terrifying entity or individual, a scary setting and multiple plot twists. In a good horror story, there is a protagonist who has the uncanny ability to face adversity, endure personal anguish and provide hope to those who have lost it. America, and in particular New York City, has been a horror show for some. What the pandemic has revealed is the hidden shame of America, the haves strive no matter the conditions, while the have-nots suffer due to their station in life, whether it’s a lack of adequate health care, access to a quality education, or being trapped in the vicious cycle of the ghettoization of their communities. There is true suffering that is taking place every day in our once great city.
I believe, in this day, in this time, Mayor Eric Adams is the leading protagonist in our collective horror film. Mayor Adams embodies the hope and aspirations of so many in the Black and Brown community who have faced almost insurmountable odds, but still persevere, no matter the conditions they have emerged from. The city is out of control; law and order must exist or there will be sheer anarchy and further decline will take place. We cannot afford for that to take place. It’s simply not an option. A lot of Black and Brown New Yorkers remember Stop-and-Frisk, we remember how the nation’s largest police force often feels like an occupying force that serves, protects, and breaks a brother’s neck. It’s a fine line to navigate, the upholding of the constitutional rights of New York City citizens and the need to rid the streets of individuals who are seemingly running wild engaging in barbarous behavior and terrorizing some of our communities.
This must stop. If we were able to better police our own communities and check the behavior of those who we know are bastardizing the neighborhoods we live in, this long-standing dilemma of Black and Brown self-induced destructive behavior would not exist, but like it or not, it does. I don’t want Mayor Adams to succeed just because I have personal affection and admiration for him. I want him to succeed because we all need him to. The stakes are high. We have seen this story unfold before. In several Hollywood films, the Black man only seems to ascend to the highest political office during a catastrophic event. Morgan Freeman was the president in the film “Deep Impact.” The plot centered around an extinction level event. We are in our own extinction level event, however this is not a Hollywood film. This is our reality.
It’s only been one month since Mayor Adams’ ascendency to the mayorship. Eric Adams is only the second person of African descent to be mayor of New York City in its 398 year history. I have seen firsthand what a lack of order can do to a community, and what racism and classicism can do. I have witnessed the Dinkins era, the Guiliani era, the Bloomberg era and the de Blasio era. I have never been more confident in a mayor as I am confident with Mayor Eric Adams. We need to give him time to implement his strategies, tactics and agenda. But make no mistake about it, we need buffoons, miscreants and those who are afflicting skulduggery against our communities to be dealt with. Our children, wives, sisters and brothers must be safe, there is no debate regarding this fact. They deserve it. I believe Mayor Adams is the right man at the right time and in the right place to manifest this into existence. Like it or not.
Adofo A. Muhammad Ed.D serves as principal of Brooklyn’s Bedford Academy High School.