I've been asked to give a suggestion on what would help stabilize and begin to improve and uplift the black community. It's not as if I haven't given suggestions before. My suggestions have either been ignored, ridiculed or laughed at.
I'll try giving it another shot:
1. First I want to say these programs do not work, and that's why ever so many years these same old bridges have to be crossed again and again. Most are ineffective and are only "feel good" solution that provide paid positions for the people in charge of them. The people in need or the ones they're supposedly designed to help still end right back where they started or worse.
If the designers and planners are really serious their concentration would be on rebuilding the infrastructure so devastated and decimated by years and years of the so-called War on Drugs, War on This/War on That which were designed to target specific communities and prep them for gentrification. That infrastructure and breakdown destroyed through mass incarceration of a targeted group.
It isn't as if drugs and crime don't exist in much every part and aspect of America. It's that not everyone, not every community was purposely targeted for "weed 'n see"/aka gentrification. No one could possibly be foolish enough as to believe all those expensive private drug treatment centers that cropped up all across the country were built for some poor joe or joetta living in the inner-city, public housing or a trailer park. Even the agencies that arrest the average citizen for drug related charges haven't been immune their own inner drugs and substance abuse problems. That's one of their dirty little not so secret secrets most everyone is aware of but no one says anything.
2. So my suggestion would be to work on rebuilding the infrastructure in these communities destroyed over the decades through mass incarceration and other actions. I would start by working on rebuilding the family structure. I would utilize any funds to work with families. Whole families. I would do away with such demeaning terms like "at risk" that will come back to haunt at some point. Other terms and myths such as the "black absent father" would become obsolete. There's a difference between BDMIA (Black Dad Missing In Action) and BDFOOP(Black Dad Forced Out Of Picture) through mass incarceration and other means. My program(s) would be a way and means to unite and bring families back together and not continue to tear them down and rip them apart. This is what I've witnessed over the decades. Primarily good black men attempting to be good parents only to be ripped away without much notice, care or concern that the entire family will suffer. I say black men, because they're the ones who've overwhelmingly been on the receiving end.
3. On the jobs issue: There's so much untapped talent in the black community. Since the private sector is usually so dead set against hiring anyone with a criminal record--and through mass incarceration and other stuff most everyone in America (especially black males) have a criminal record of some kind these days or are on their way to obtaining one at some point before they die; the same as the private sector once were dead set against hiring military persons returning home from war and the federal government stepped in and created jobs that gave preference to veterans and the private sector once held the same disdain for hiring minorities: My suggestion would be to use micro-loans (with no strings attached/with a possible five year forgiveness) that would allow ex-felons and people considered unemployable by the private sector to open up their own business. I know of a couple of young men who are pretty good darn cooks. I mean really good. Better than me. Another who's great at auto-detailing, and another who could have his own art studio (he's a really good artist)-maybe teach his art skills to others. I would set these individuals up. Shadow them for a period of maybe five years with periodic intervention is and where needed afterward. Okay, so not everyone is geared to own a business, but that doesn't mean they can't be productive. In that case funding could be used to establish an employer within these struggling communities and also create a training facility that would operate as a feeder to the employer. The training facility would provide skilled workers the employer would hire from directly. The employer would also be granted incentives for hiring and not discriminating because the individual(s) have a criminal record. The same as the federal government once had to step in to help veterans returning from war to get jobs and minorities the private sector refused to hire.
4. It's always amazing and mind boggling sometimes how America's laws are either inadvertently or purposely set up in such a way as to have a negative impact on certain groups. Maybe this is a purposeful design. Maybe it's a natural order and outcome. Take the DUI/DWI laws and whose usually the culprits caught driving DUI/DWI. While a person with a DUI/DWI can obtain a special license to continue to drive (back and forth to work) an individual who loses his/her license due to unpaid court fines can't even obtain a special license that would allow them to travel to and from work so they can at least pay down or pay off the fines. How much sense does that make? So I can go out, get drunk as Cooter Brown, plow into a crowd and injure someone, or even kill someone, but still have a better chance of obtaining a driver's license, with restriction than someone who can't afford to pay court fines? Statistically speaking, who's most likely to fall behind and not be unable to pay a fine but the poor and the minority poor? But we say we want people to be productive citizens, pay their own way and pay their fair share, but set up all kinds walls, barriers and blocks to prevent them from becoming productive citizens and restrict their movements.
Through mass incarceration, America has forced families into situations where they might not have otherwise found themselves. When that one main breadwinner family member is removed the remaining (usually female) is forced into those dreaded and hated social programs some so despise.
An America that works work for everyone or it will come to work for no one, and the nation falls far short of what it claims itself to be or claims it was meant to be: A free nation of equality and equal opportunity for all.
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Respectfully, I admire your involvement in the African-American community and the Chattanooga community as a voice . I am 1/16 Native American Indian raised by both Irish-American, Scottish-English, German, and African-Americans. In essence, I am very fortunate because I had people who loved me, not based on the color of my skin but the quality of my character. I was welcomed with open arms to my nurse maid and her family, spent many nights and days with my brothers and sisters in the Ninth Street areas before it was called M.L. King Boulevard.
Yes, I was afforded a better life because I was considered Caucasian. My grandmother was 1/4 Navajo indian and decided to teach in one room school houses in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. She sent letters to President Kennedy in support of desegregation. She taught me to love from the heart, not from the outside.
I was born in the sixties in Chattanooga and while my mother shielded me from many things, she also helped me to understand so much more.
We took vacations in Florida one time a year. Because we refused to not eat with my adopted grandmother/housekeeper, Mabel, we had to sit either in the kitchen or as close to the bathroom as possible. We could have afforded better hotels but chose to stay in those that accepted her and actually pay more sometimes.
I think that I have a unique perspective as a young white girl, born on Glenwood Drive and surrounded by love, understanding, and compassion taught to me by my love, Mabel and all of her eight sons, five daughters, and many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and loving others that she so made a difference in their lives. I was given the respected position of being seated with the children at both funerals and listed as a loving daughter in the funeral programs All of her children knew that I loved them and they loved me. We were taught as one; they/we had to take responsibility in our lives and if we had children, we were responsible for that too. We have a problem in Chattanooga with young men, black and white and other races, that think that they need to impregnate as many women/girls as possible to "carry on their seed." Who taught them that? We have a problem with the young women who accept this as the norm.
I have personally had the opportunity to meet Paul Smith with the mayor's new initiative program (Violence Reduction Initiative). I am so impressed by his dedication (at a reduced pay scale) and that of the mayor's office, the Chattanooga Police Department and all of those involved with making this city a better place.
Unfortunately, young black on black crime is at an all time high. These groups have taken over neighborhoods and silenced communities by fear and the threat of retaliation. Murder is a crime that doesn't even respond with a blink of an eye. We have to get involved and make education and community support an option. Otherwise, our youth is lost to the gangs and worse, death.
Please don't judge me because I am white and think that I have not experienced some of thing that you believe of me because of my skin color. Martin Luther King, in his " I Have a Dream" speech, referred to his children being judged not by the color of their skin but by the quality of their character I have experienced life and want to make a difference.
Give the new initiative a chance. Talk to your neighbors, ask them to be mentors, call Mr. Smith and ask to volunteer. Tell the police department and the groups of criminals that you will not accept their taking over your neighborhoods through intimidation and threats.
May God bless the child and all in our beautiful city.
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I just read the article in your paper that Brenda Manghane authored. She did a nice job but the question remains; in 1919, why didn’t the 66th Congress utilize the sweeping power of the “do whatever we want” commerce clause to prohibit, forbid or make it a federal crime to buy, sell, use, or abuse alcohol instead of ratifying the 18th Amendment “by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States?"
Answer: because the 66th Congress and “we, the people” wouldn’t stand for usurping the mandates of our Constitution for self-government, that’s why.
Or: perhaps, the lack of individual character by members on the Hill and by “we, the sheeple” is the hidden-culprit.
The people’s perpetual protections secured in the text of our Constitution guarantees the sovereign citizens of this still yet young republic the ‘right’ to pull a weed and smoke it or bake brownies with it, snort a line of cocaine or table salt, and main-line heroin or chocolate chip cookies.
The United States Congress does not have “unlimited-power” to enact federal criminal legislation without a nexus to some power granted by “we, the people” in the text of Article I., Section 8., of the Constitution’s 18 enumerated powers.
The only way the central government of the United States can legally and constitutionally intervene, interfere, or interrupt, the above mentioned conduct of constitutional ‘rights’ is by virtue of an Amendment to our Constitution “ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States."
In short, “we, the people,” have lost our constitutional ‘rights’ and replaced them with a despotic and tyrannical central government of greed and power by all political parties. Your neighbor in Congress does not represent you, h/she represents h/herself. Wake up, sheeple.