Youth Unsure If Latino Or Black Mayor Will Bring Change To LB

May. 7, 2014 / By

[Ed. Note] No matter who wins on June 3, for the first time since the 1980s in Long Beach the mayor will not be Caucasian. In a city that is a majority “minority,” with over 41 percent Latino, would a gay Latino mayor or an African-American mayor make a difference? Young people in Long Beach think it might, but they aren’t so sure. Check out their responses below.

I don’t really know what having a gay, Latino or black mayor would do for Long Beach. I think it’s hard to say if a politician will just be a politician no matter what background they came from. I think the possible impact a black mayor or a Latino mayor could have would be to help out with the sometimes blatant racism that minorities often face when it comes to Long Beach Police. Maybe they could also do something about the areas in Long Beach that are not as safe due to gangs and things like that.  –Chelcee Bunkley

As a young adult who identifies with all of the identity traits, I am extremely hopeful. Hopeful of true representation. For many years, I lived in a city divided into the haves (Downtown, El Dorado Park and Naples areas) and the have-nots (Central, Westside and North Long Beach areas). For once the two candidates understand the importance of dismantling the divided and appropriating resources to the areas in high need. A united Long Beach waits in our future. –Chris Covington

Though I don’t see this as a major change, it is definitely a step forward. To me it’s not that race is even a factor, but it is a signifier that the minds and sensibilities of the Long Beach citizens are changing. No one can tell how either candidate will run the city until one of them begins their tenure in office, but it will be from a different and new perspective from that of previous mayors. I think the fact that they are younger candidates has more to do with the direction they plan on taking Long Beach. –Oscar Bautista

For the first time in Long Beach history, there are not one, but two mayoral figures running against each other that aren’t Caucasian. To a young person, like myself, this is a breath of fresh air. Why? Not because of the color of their skin or sexual orientation, but maybe because of the way they were raised. If any of these men have been through hardships, then both men must know what the majority of our city are struggling with and the more they’ll be willing to listen. One’s skin color should not define who a leader is or how they should run things, but if either of these men is elected Mayor of Long Beach, then who’s to say there won’t be big changes happening? –Anyssa Staine

With the diversity of Long Beach, racially and otherwise, it is time that the mayor of Long Beach is a person of color. The future elected mayor represents progress, even though we still have a long way to go. They also represent the first step in addressing racial diversity in places of power. I am excited about the possibilities and hope that the City of Long Beach continues to have an increase in representation of all groups of people, especially those who have been historically disadvantaged. –Deonna Anderson

I think the fact that our mayor won’t be Caucasian will be a great representation of Long Beach. Also, many younger residents of Long Beach might see it as inspiration because they will see that others in their situation made it to the top. Young people won’t feel alone, and they will do their best to end up in a good position. Younger residents might be more interested with local politics because they can relate to the candidates. –Karen Marin

Electing an openly gay man as the mayor of Long Beach would be the best thing the city could do for its youth, especially for its youth who are a part of the LGBT community. Some LGBT youth in the city have been rejected by their families and their culture for who they are, but a gay mayor could help them accept themselves even when others around them don’t.  –Ben Novotny

Studies indicate that today’s racial and economic disparities are on par with the inequality present during the civil rights movement. So would having a black, Latino, or gay mayor in Long Beach assuage the problem here, locally? I would argue simply, no. Having a mayor of color in Long Beach does not mean its residents will be represented. It truly depends on that mayor’s politics. Look at Bobby Kennedy, who stood with Cesar Chavez and was martyred, and then look at Marco Rubio, a Latino who is blocking humane immigration reform efforts in Congress. It’s the same in Long Beach– both mayoral candidates have not firmly stood against racism in the city. –Michael Lozano

On a broad scale, it’s an indication of the glass ceiling crumbling by the wayside as an increasing number of minorities are elected into positions of importance. Locally we’re blessed with the option of two candidates that intimately understand the experience of living as a minority. But despite history in the making, I’m going to look beyond the surface and examine each person’s political stance on topics like living wage jobs, the affordable housing, and environmental responsibility.  –Thomas Lick

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VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Their reports will raise awareness of community health issues and activate change.