Urban Perspective is principally description and exhortation directed at removing barriers to Blacks’ rights and progress. Downplaying negatives with “positive spin, as some suggest,” is a distortion of the truth. Actually, change only flows from honest and accurate portrayal of existing conditions.
Today’s column again examines the current and projected status of Blacks in Los Angeles, with a reminder of last week’s discussion of the pivotal role of values, principles and ideology in planning future strategies.
Current high priority issues include education, health, economic and political development, Black-on-Black violence, police abuse and Black leadership. Elaborating briefly on a few of the more salient issues:
The need to focus on Black students continues to be neglected. None of the proposed reforms for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) explicitly deals with the Black student. (At this writing, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has not responded to a November request by the Community Call to Action and Responsibility (CCAA) that his Partnership have a discernible focus on Black students, no matter how small their numbers. It seems as though both CCAA and Black students are low-priority for the mayor.
Los Angeles Board of Education members too have not responded to a similar request from Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives to focus on the Black child. Like CCAA, this group is formulating its next move. (Neither Superintendent David Brewer’s, nor UTLA’s proposed reforms specifically target Black students.
The tragic downfall of MLK Hospital was caused by inexcusable negligence on the part of government bodies, chiefly the County of Los Angeles; communities’ failure to hold officials accountable was also a contributing factor. We all share responsibility for restoring King Hospital, never again permitting such devastating erosion of critical services, especially for those most in need.
Reformation must occur in of other areas and include greater participation and accountability by parents and other community members who mainly through inaction, join policymakers, administrators, elected officials, ineffective teachers, etc., as part of the problem, not solutions. Blacks’ tepid involvement in these and other important areas underscores the need for strong, group-oriented leadership.
Positive efforts for change are also underway. Most do not address causal or systemic factors and, consequently, tend to reinforce, not alter ongoing oppressive conditions.
The following examples have discernible potential for creating positive change:
The California Legislative Black Caucus’ State of Black California Report focuses on areas for new legislation (hopefully, with sound implementation strategies). Given the caucus’ history, the internal collaboration necessary in producing the report is a monumental achievement.
CCAA started in February 2005 following the killing of 13-year-old Devin Brown by an LAPD officer. It provides assistance and support to community residents, continues to pressure LAPD and the Police Commission on police abuse issues and holds monthly community town hall forums. (Cease Fire, an affiliate of CCAA, consists mostly of giving-back-to-the-community, ex-gang members who provide valuable perspective and advice on reducing Black-on-Back and other gang-related violence.)
SCLC and a range of community partners recently launched a Poor People’s Campaign to “rebuild” the Jordan Downs Housing Project. The Knowledge Transfer Summit is an effort to unify Blacks around issues ranging from the need for a covenant, to education, economic development and leadership. It holds much promise, but is revisiting its purpose and follow-up strategies.
Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives is a discussion group moving towards including an action agenda. It is awaiting a response from Board of Education members to letter urging that the district focus specifically on Black students’ needs. The ongoing crisis in educating these children requires broad expansion of efforts that continually pressure LAUSD to address their needs as a matter of high priority.
Nationally, Barak Obama’s ascendency, although tentative, has raised the hopes of many. However, Black leadership nationally continues to emulate the majority’s leadership and values, to their own collective detriment. The Jena 6 travesty created broad, intense support, but follow-up strategies in Los Angeles and throughout the country have not materialized. Katrina’s, (“The “Storm”) aftermath has devolved into massive gentrification with New Orleans’ poor population stranded everywhere with little hope for returning home. Bogus national, state and federal responses reflect America’s racist orientation.
Blacks face tough new challenges that require rededication, commitment and broad accountability. Almost everyone knows this, but few act like it. Head-in-the-sand, traditional approaches and complacency have not, do not, and will not benefit Black people: It’s past time to adopt new mindsets, approaches and strategies designed to protect Blacks’ interests, and even more important, carve a safe and successful future for our children and theirs.
Larry Aubry n can be contacted at e-mail