Saturday 26 November 2022
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Looking forward to the “Action Steps for Change”

Howard Eagle

Op-ed by Howard Eagle

According to a WHEC report (see videos via the first link under references, below) the Urban League of Rochester held a three-day “interrupt racism summit,” which coincides with the National Urban League’s 21 pillars tour.”

It was good to hear the Urban League of Rochester’s president, Dr. Seanelle Hawkins say they are “leaving [the summit] with action steps for change” She also declared that “it’s time for community action steps to end violence and racism now. “As members of the Take It Down Planning Committee/Faith Community Alliance Coalition (Rochester’s premiere anti-racist organization), we can hardly wait to hear about the specific action steps and the sort of concrete, significant, measurable, permanent “change” that they are hopefully proposing.

With regard to the WHEC report, the following represent a few very important caveats:

1) We have no understanding of what is meant by the following statement, which was made by one of the summit’s leaders: “As we work to improve police and community relations if we can’t improve community relations among community, I don’t think we can move forward in trying to incorporate law enforcement into that conversation” Isn’t law enforcement necessarily already “incorporated” into the conversation? I mean, they are part of the community, aren’t they? In fact, that’s what the whole issue is about, isn’t it? Isn’t that why, according to the WHEC reporter the National Urban League’s president, Marc Morial (who was the keynote speaker on day-two of the summit) noted that “the trust between the police and the community they serve needs to be restored, especially along racial lines?”

Morial also asserted that improvement “requires the police on one hand, and policing agencies to change the way they’re policing communities,” especially and particularly Black communities. Additionally, he noted that police need to “move to a model that is more focused on community policing, where they put an emphasis on building relationships with the community” (the same way they generally do within predominantly lily-white suburban communities).

2) As it relates to the audience, take a good look at the visuals. Who’s missing?

3) The last sentence of the article is quite confusing, e.g., “Although Wednesday is the last day of the Summit, the Urban League of Rochester, and community leaders will meet again in November to work on the upcoming RASE report.”

Upcoming RASE report?

The RASE Report/Recommendations are more than a year-and-a-half old. They were released publicly on March18, 2021 (see the related press conference at the second link below).

Interestingly enough, on March 16, 2022, Rochester’s Mayor, Malik Evans, and Monroe County’s Executive, Adam Bello held a press conference to “mark 1 year since release of Racial and Structural Equity [RASE] report.” During their March 16th press conference, the Mayor and County Executive announced the appointment of the Urban League of Rochester’s president to “lead the community-wide implementation of RASE recommendations” They also announced that by the Spring of 2022, an “implementation council” would be formed, and Mayor Evans asserted that he “looked forward to expanding community involvement in this project. We need the entire community to step up and be a part of the implementation team, and I think they’re interested in it.”

Bottom line: We’re still waiting (nearly seven months later).

~Howard Eagle is a longtime educator and local anti-racism advocate, known for his campaigns for the Rochester school board and prolific political and social commentary. Eagle taught social studies in the RCSD for 23 years, before retiring in 2010, and taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of African American Studies at SUNY Brockport for 20 years, before retiring in 2020.