I am off this week proudly serving jury duty, a vital part of our democratic duties, but I would like to share with you two responses to my recent column Crossing the Bridge from Selma to Ferguson, one from Rudy Gonzalez here in the Inland Empire and the other from Tommy Ross of Sacramento. Since the U.S. Department of Justice released its report uncovering the routine violation of the civil rights of the city of Ferguson’s African-American population, there have been major changes in the running of the city government, both the police chief and the city manager have stepped down, and for the first time in the city’s history, half of the 8 candidates campaigning for 3 seats on Ferguson’s city council are African-Americans, making it the most diverse campaign in the city’s 120 year history, and guaranteeing that there will be at least two African-Americans on the city council.
Both Rudy and Tommy are interested in how we educate future generations on the value of citizenship. I’m anxious to hear from more of you. What are your thoughts on how to best engage your fellow citizens and as Rudy questions “increase care for our community”?
I wonder if the vote is the only way. What other positive actions can we take to create a better future for the generations that are coming up after us? What will it take to increase care for our community? The perception I have, skewed as it might be, is that our value for security has come at the expense of care. We don’t care, as much for our neighbor, in fact we don’t trust our neighbor. We don’t care as much for our students so we don’t work with them or try to understand their reality. In turn we don’t care for each other so why vote.
By the way, I vote, but in trying to get younger folks to vote, it is like pulling hen’s teeth.
I am a regular reader of your writings and wish they had broader exposure and distribution. They reflect a respect and recognition of the truth behind much conventional wisdom, but with the addition of many truths not heard or seen in mainstream media. And you do it with a subtle clarity. The latest piece on Selma is an example.
I have been baffled by one simple fact-if Black folks represent more than 60% of a given city’s population and [are] dissatisfied with its governance, why aren’t national organizations, in the spirit of Selma, focused on organizing and educating the population on the change that comes with voting. Why isn’t the Urban League there educating and organizing about small business development?
Both ideas would focus on the city residents taking control of their lives, civic responsibility, and economic empowerment. And both require a commitment to education and self- improvement.
On another but related point, I have taught my kids that while they need to be aware that there are police that abuse their authority for a number of reasons (one being there are bad people in every facet of life), they need to respect that anyone with the power to deprive you of your life and your freedom needs to be responded to with that fact in mind. Bottom line, hostility gets you nowhere except in trouble. Respect more often than not gets you respect.
Here are a few ideas for future marches:
March down to the local school to let them know the community demands a quality education for students. March kids to a place in the home where they can do homework and make sure they do it.
March to the City Council meeting and demand policies are adopted in support of the community interest. And when they are not, register to vote.
March to the voting both, vote them out and support candidates who commit to creating a safe and clean community along with a vibrant economy that supports job creation.
We can go down the line of some of the issues affecting our community and some of the simple truths to address them that we don’t hear because they don’t fit the general media or minority leadership narrative. I see some of those simple truths in your writings.
Keep up the good work!
Tommy Ross, Sacramento