Community Board #11 MakeupBy Jose B. Rivera
East Harlem - January 1, 2001 - Hispanic representation on Community Board # 11 (located in East Harlem, Spanish Harlem) is only a little over 39% of the board. African-Americans which consist of only 38% of Spanish Harlem’s population make up 50% of the board. Out of six Officers of Board # 11, only two are Hispanic, four are African-American.
Community Board # 11 currently has 41 members, 16 are Hispanic, 21 are African-American and four are White. This current board composition is totally out of keeping with East Harlem’s population. Which according to 1990 Census figures put the number of Hispanics at 47%, African Americans at 38% and Whites at about 2%.
The questions can be asked, why are Hispanics 11% under represented and African-Americans 12% over-under-represented? Why are community leaders like Roberto Anazagasti constantly being turned down for appointment to the board after continuously trying for years? Why does an appointment process always chose to appoint more African-Americans than Hispanics in a Hispanic District?
Places to Look
The places to look for answers lie in the appointment process and more specifically at those who appoint. Members to all community boards are appointed by the Borough President of each borough the local council personn. In East Harlem those who appoint are Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Councilman Phil Reed. Both who happen to be African-American. And although African-Americans vote in a higher percentages than Hispanics in the community, it should bear no direct relationship to the percentage of those appointed, where an accurate reflection of the community’s population can be easily accomplished.
The Harlemnization of Spanish Harlem (Expansion & Colonization)
Although is is hard to prove, it is hard not to imagine or feel an African-American agenda for Spanish Harlem. In Harlem all elected officials are African-American, whereas Spanish Harlem can boast of just half of it’s elected officials being Hispanic—Congressman Charles Rangel and Councilman Phil Reed are African American, State Senator Olga Mendez and Assemblyman Powell are Hispanic. Why is that? Why do African-American leaders chose to run and therefore deny total Hispanic leadership in a Hispanic community? Can the blame possibly lie in the fact that the Manhattan Democratic County committee is totally controlled by Assemblyman Deny Farrell, Congressman Charles Rangel, Borough President C. Virginia Fields and other African-American leaders? These leaders have had a history of neglecting East Harlem when it comes to services (but not in running for office here) while deny local leaders like District Leader Felix Rosado, their share of local power, not to mention a lack of respect for Mr. Rosado.
Harlem Political/Business Interests
Because Hispanics have not voted in proportion to their numbers, the Manhattan African-American leadership has chosen to colonize Spanish Harlem as oppose to assisting local Hispanic leadership bloom. The reason for all this is the expansion of Harlem to the advantage of Harlem Political/Business interests. A strong Hispanic community board # 11 would counter Harlem’s expansionist agenda for East Harlem. It is for this reason that Community Board # 11 contains only 16 Hispanic members.
Excuses about not enough “qualified” Hispanics applying for board appointment fall on deaf ears. There are always more than twice the number of candidates for appointment to the board than are appointees. Surely the Borough President and Councilman can’t say that not enough Hispanics in East Harlem qualify. That would be preposterous and blatantly untrue. So, why such a small percentage of Hispanic Representatives Borough President Fields, Councilman Reed?
East Harlem.com will press this issue until a satisfactory conclusion is reached and will keep you informed throughout.