Monday, December 12, 2016

Why we continue to Falter

Walter Myers III
BlakPAC Blogger

When I was a kid growing up in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1970s, we looked to Baltimore, Maryland, as the crown jewel city. It was a great place to visit, where aspiring and successful blacks gravitated, often to take on jobs related to defense or civil government. Baltimore is still a great city, but it has taken on a disturbing downward slide in a number of quarters within the black community over the past few decades. The new session of the Baltimore City Council highlighted some of what has gone wrong in this once gleaming city. On December 8, the council began its new session, wasting no time in passing a 15-0 resolution against President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence that includes the following language:

“During the 2016 United States Presidential Campaign and in the weeks following Election Day, Donald Trump and Mike Pence used, approved of, or encouraged divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice, and as a result historically disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed groups face an increase in hate speech and acts of violence… the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence as President and Vice-President of the United States of America has stoked fear and apprehension among Americans including among historically disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed groups who may fear that the Rights guaranteed them as Americans will be compromised, undermined, or taken from them.”

Before I unpack this little piece of work, let me first say that good government is about setting the right priorities, and setting an example for citizens. Disparaging the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States is hardly exemplary or a worthy priority, let alone in a city such as Baltimore that has been ravaged with crime and poverty. This is the city that rioted back in 2015 over the unfortunate arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray a week later, which led to looting and destruction of literally hundreds of businesses in areas already beset by high crime and violence. Overzealous, emotional prosecutors with a weak case failed to convict any of the officers charged, which consisted of a mixture of white and black officers, but the damage to a community that could least afford it was already done before all the facts were discovered of the arrest and Gray’s death during the investigation of the incident.

Now on to the resolution. Based on the vote, it is hard to believe there are any rational grownups still sitting on the council, and it is even more amazing that Baltimore blacks keep voting these maladjusted individuals into office, who are mostly black themselves, that serve their own people so shoddily. Just where is this council finding statements by Trump and Pence that they call “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice”? I can’t think of a single incidence of hatred or prejudice that has come from the mouths of either Trump or Pence, and the council certainly has not provided any instances. What Trump and Pence have been talking about is making America great again in dispossessed urban areas such as Baltimore, but this is apparently lost on this council that is probably still weeping and moaning over Hillary Clinton’s loss. However, this same council gave a wide berth to looters and rioters consisting of people they have served so inadequately and who have so little trust in their government they felt they had no choice but to decimate their own city in order to get noticed. Across the land, we get poor results yet continue to vote the same people into office. And that is why we as a people continue to falter.

Regarding the “increase in hate speech and acts of violence,” this is patently false with respect to Trump and Pence. The acts of violence during the campaign were almost exclusively caused by demonstrators and agitators in support of Hillary Clinton who were attempting to disrupt Trump rallies, leading to violent run-ins with law enforcement while Trump supporters participated peacefully at their rallies. We saw this lawless behavior almost weekly on the campaign trail across the country. Now there were a couple of cases of Trump supporters throwing punches, but these were generally provoked by trash-talking demonstrators hanging around bothering peaceful people either waiting to attend a Trump rally or inside a Trump rally during his speech. So, I have no idea where the council is finding “increased” hate speech and violence except amongst their own. But the resolution gets even more obtuse and juvenile when it states the election of Trump and Pence “has stoked fear and apprehension among Americans including among historically disenfranchised, marginalized, and oppressed groups.”

Clearly, blacks make up the bulk of the disenfranchised or oppressed groups of which they speak, but you can hardly blame Trump or Pence for their fear or apprehension. If there is anyone oppressing blacks of Baltimore it is the poor leadership that has done little to address growing issues of poverty over five decades. Baltimore has not had a Republican mayor since 1967, leaving an unbroken 49 years of Democratic rule with horrid results for blacks. What was once a proud and thriving city is now a city with failing schools, institutionalized poverty, and little economic opportunity for low income blacks. It is a city that is over 63% black, with almost 24% of its citizens living in poverty. In one of the wealthiest states in the nation, median income for blacks in Baltimore is almost half that of whites. A whopping 37% of black men are unemployed. So with statistics like that, the last thing the council should be doing is pointing the finger at people who have no responsibility for their utter failure to effectively serve the black community. Instead of spending time on ill-thought resolutions, the council should focus on doing something good to bring real economic opportunity to its downtrodden citizens.
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