While I was in City Hall I picked up a copy of Point of View, the local newspaper published by Frederick and Marjorie Hurst, and read it while I waited for the public speak-out to begin. I could not help but contrast the image of the city's African-American population as represented in the newspaper with the image that many of the city's white people have of African-Americans.
Point of View's stories this month included an article on students at Frederick Harris School talking about peace, the accomplishments of Major Toy R. Frasier, Jr., the Basileus of the Delta Chi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity located in Springfield, MA, the The 2nd Annual Hoop City Jazz & Art Festival, a column on Older Americans Month by Ruth Loving, and much more. The paper also included a pretty devastating picture of how an important issue about underperforming eighth graders was cavalierly decided.by by the School Committee. Marjorie is serving her last term as a School Committee member and was one of two dissenting votes. Read this article if you really want to know what went on at the school committee meeting. As Marjorie says,
"No research was conducted or cited. No public discussion was scheduled or held. No written policy was drafted or presented for review. And the adopted policy wasn’t even on the agenda for that night. It was simply brought forward as an oral motion by Christopher Collins, our newest school committee member, during his Curriculum and Programs subcommittee report of a meeting that had been held just prior to the school committee meeting.Yesterday five hundred people, mostly youth, participated in a vigil mourning the murder of Mario Hornsby, Jr., a high school student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two hours after the rally, police arrested a 17 year old man in the murder. Police said the community cooperated with the police with information leading to the suspect's apprehension.
And the four other members of the school committee voted in favor of it!!! We don’t know how much it will cost for busing or staffing or who will be in charge of this new program. Neither parents/guardians, students, teachers, nor principals have had any advance warning or opportunity to prepare for the implementation of this policy, which will go into effect next month. By contrast, we just recently spent over a year accumulating and studying data, holding meetings, getting feedback and buy-in and drafting and revising the wording for a school uniform policy, for heavens sake! And we spend all of 30 minutes discussing a policy that possibly will have permanent and irreparable effects on a segment of our students."
Now contrast the above picture of the African-American community with what posters on Masslive-- anonymous, of course-- have to say about Black people. I have to paraphrase (no direct quoting allowed) but here goes:
- One poster, commenting on the vigil, says that nothing in the Black community will change until the community rejects its own image. (Which image is that, the Point of View image?)
- Another poster says that this (the violence) isn't a community problem, it's a Black problem. (Blacks aren't a part of this city?)
- Another poster, after calling the violence a Black problem, admits he/she has no idea what goes on in the Black community.
- Another poster says it's the fault of so-called Black "leaders."
- Another poster says that summer jobs are just throwing money at "baby thugs."
- Another poster suggests tying them to a tree and beating some sense into them.
I wonder what would happen if I started posting comments on Masslive like, "If only the white community would stop glorifying gangsters, we'd have less mob activity," or "White people just wanna lock themselves away in their gated communities and leave the rest of us to sink or swim." Boy, would I get jumped on!
Too many times we white people see only a part of the picture and think it describes the entire Black community. We say, "We're not racist, we're just telling it like it is!" And we ignore any evidence to the contrary.
On my way to work this morning, I saw: Black kids in groups walking to school, Black men in suits waiting for the bus, Black moms waiting at the bus stop with their kids, two Black guys on a corner with documents in their hands gesturing to a local building, a young Black man in a work uniform headed to work at Dunkin Donuts, two Black women dressed the way lawyers dress walking toward the intersection of State and Main.
Yes, communities of color are struggling with drugs, crime, the school drop-out rate-- but most Black kids manage to make it through school without getting addicted to drugs or being murdered or murdering. And these problems are scarcely non-existent among whites.
Here's hoping that someday we can see each other in the full range of our struggles and triumphs, without stereotypes and generalizations, and wishing the best for each other.