The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Town Hall Meeting: Western Tribune column June 3, 2009

A series of Town Hall meetings is underway in Bessemer in which the Mayor is informing the public about what is right with Bessemer as the residents try to point out what is wrong with the city.

Somewhat predictably, at the first Town Hall the mayor spoke of decreased rates of crime and increased new businesses in town and how blessed we are as a city.

But when we compare our neighborhoods to how they appeared five or ten years ago, we have to wonder.

Burned-out buildings and vacant houses dot the community. Sidewalks are empty, as fear keeps adults inside and adults keep their kids inside. Even with crime rates decreased in certain categories, with the types of crimes that are occurring, some are wondering about their safety inside their homes.

Some crimes may be related to the economy, but there is an underlying condition that contributes to crime and that is hatred.

People can like or dislike whoever they want and hatred itself is not a crime. When I was campaigning for city council I was amazed at the level of hatred that some voters of both races displayed as they told who they may or may not vote for and why.

Our president said during his campaign that “race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,” and “that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.” He called for a national discourse on race. Let’s start now, in Bessemer.

When hatred is based on underlying characteristics, such as race or sexuality, and crimes are committed where that as part of the basis, whole communities are affected and the result is fear which leads to stagnation. People won’t invest if they don’t feel secure.

A loose knit group named Bessemer Equality on the social networking site Facebook has a vision of a community that values all of its residents. Those who are not Facebook members can become part of this movement as well.

One way would be to show up at the Town Hall meetings and let the mayor know that public safety and the image that Bessemer projects are much more important than ribbon cuttings and the never ending debate over pot holes in our roads.

End of column.

The Town Hall meeting will take place at Visionary Ministries at the corner of Dartmouth Avenue and 19th Street, at 6:30, on Thursday.

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