Is NY candidate helping to break racial taboo?





There’s nothing more traditional in American politics than the wholesome family portrait: a beaming candidate, beaming spouse, reluctantly beaming teenagers.

But when Bill de Blasio, a candidate for public office in New York City this fall, put his family in his campaign mailings and TV ads, there was nothing routine about it. De Blasio’s wife of 15 years, Chirlane McCray, is black, his children are of mixed race and, even in one of America’s most liberal cities, no one could remember anything like it.

De Blasio, 48, won the crucial Democratic primary in a runoff Sept. 29 and is in line to be the city’s next public advocate, a sort of high-profile ombudsman’s job that’s second in the line of succession to the mayor. The city councilman from liberal Park Slope, Brooklyn, had other things going for him — institutional support, newspaper endorsements — but in the view of his campaign, and of many of the city’s political observers, his interracial relationship was an almost unmitigated positive in a hotly contested election.

With Barack Obama having rewritten the history of race relations in this country, de Blasio may be demolishing one of its last taboos, “For so long in American history, interracial couples went out of their way to keep their relationships out of the public eye that it’s remarkable to see them used in a campaign like this,” said Peggy Pascoe, a historian of interracial marriage at the University of Oregon, who referred to the campaign as “a post-Obama phenomenon.”



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