By Tyronda James
Some Rochester advocates are dissatisfied with a report issued by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE) on the state of race relations in Rochester.
Members of The Take It Down Planning Committee, the Faith Community Alliance Coalition, the Reentry & Community Development Center and allies, are declaring that “Enough is enough” and are pushing back on the report and city and county officials who endorsed and funded it.
At a press conference, Wednesday, the advocates declared that the time has come to “hold Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren accountable for their use or misuse of taxpayers’ money.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren established the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity last year after several incidents that brought national attention to Rochester including the untimely death of Daniel Prude.
The RASE report titled, “No Time for Excuses: It’s Time for Action,” was released March 18, 2021, and included over 200 recommendations for achieving racial and structural equity.
But members of the coalition say the report falls short.
The groups said they are currently reviewing the report “with a fine tooth comb,” specifically sections on healthcare, human/social services and mental health addiction services, and will report their own findings to the community.
“It is time for the top leaders of this city and County to stop their political posturing and game-playing and shenanigans in the thinly veiled campaign and get serious about addressing the issues and problems in this city, county and state with racism, institutional structural and individual racism, systemic racism being at the top of the list,” Minister Clifford Florence, President, Faith Community Alliance said.
“We will no longer sit idly by and tolerate the top officials of this city and this county spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to make already wealthy people even wealthier by studying issues and problems over and over again… while at the same time not making any credible efforts to improve the long-standing, deep-seated, deadly-serious, race-based issues and problems, which everyone knew existed even before the outlandishly-expensive studies were done.”
The group says they are looking for accountability for the money spent to fund the RASE Commission.
“Bello and Warren stood before local and national media and declared that the city allocated $200,000 of hard earned tax money toward an unprecedented and collaborative city and County project to address structural racism regarding business development, criminal justice, education, health care, housing, human, and social services, job creation, mental health, addiction services, and policies and policing, but we have yet to see any results,” Howard Eagle, Take it Down Planning Committee Member, said.
The group wants to know where the promised recommended implementations are.
Where are the explicit and measurable steps and when will they become public to the city of Rochester and the County of Monroe? they ask.
There are specific places the group would like to see the money spent and are especially interested in seeing explicit and measurable steps to address racism in education. Specifically the Rochester city school district.
Educator and Alliance member Clianda Florence-Yarde said they want to see better use of monies spent on administrators, social workers, reading specialists and more. She said they are looking at how the arts are not being used in the district as well as looking at the lunch system and the restructuring of schools.
Florence-Yarde said there is a need to really look at how resources are used when it comes to curriculum development and hiring practices.
“We have far too many people downtown doing things, make six figures and nobody knows what they’re doing. We need to know what they are doing,” she said. “We really have to look at every aspect of the district and how they do business in order to really change the scope and sequence of the lives of our students, their parents, and ultimately this community.”
“We’re very much concerned and will hopefully organize our community better so that we can bring pressure to bear in terms of letting them know that they can not spend this money in any way that they want without being accountable,” said Howard Eagle, educator and member of TIDPC.
“We’re here together saying no more games, no more lack of accountability, more squandering of our resources, particularly our fundamental resources.
“Enough is enough. It stops today. If it doesn’t stop and if wishy washy politicians don’t become serious. Now, it is clear that we are in for a long hot July, 1964 style summer here in Rochester and Monroe County,” Florence said.
“And as the late, great African-centric leader Malik El Shabazz was fond of saying, ‘it’s either this or that, but it can’t be both.’”