Op Ed by Howard J. Eagle and allies
So, the final report of the RASE Commission has been released, and two of the co-chairpersons are making rounds, in an attempt to convince the community of the validity and value of their findings and recommendations.
The co-chairs held a press conference on 3/18/21 to announce the release of the long-awaited final report. During the press conference, they waxed eloquent about “the need [for] the community to take ownership” of the findings and recommendations contained in the massive document.
However, there is a very serious, fundamental flaw regarding the latter idea. Namely, with regard to “the community taking ownership” of the report, a significant portion of the community (in fact, many thousands who are most directly and most devastatingly impacted by individual, institutional, and structural racism, are not even aware that the report exists).
At the start of the process, in August 2020, we cautioned the co-chairs of the possibility and likelihood that the latter referenced factor would represent a fundamental flaw (one that, in accordance with contents of the report) little to no serious effort has been made to address. It has always been seriously-problematic when major studies and reports designed to address/remedy deep-seated, widespread, pervasive socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and sociocultural issues and problems, omit huge numbers, or the majority of people who are most negatively impacted. Plain common sense (in and of itself), and surely the very long and clear historical record, dictates that both awareness and buy-in is needed among such groups, that is, if efforts are to be significantly and measurably effective and successful (plain and simple).
Secondly, during the above reference press event, one reporter had asked the co-chairs what they planned to do about the fact that “there are other groups in the community who are interested in what [the Commission is doing, and want to get] involved.” Bill Johnson’s response was: “I don’t think anybody is gonna be excluded.”
The latter quote flies in the face of the fact that, the following day, on 3/19/21, we attended the first public zoom session, at which Mr. Johnson and Mr. Shafiq facilitated a meeting with ROCACTS and at which we inquired about them facilitating the same sort of presentation for our Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/tidpc/?ref=br_rs). Again, Mr. Johnson’s response was that we should contact the Mayor’s Office, and he assured us that the Mayor would have someone associated with the Commission contact us regarding a presentation. Needless to say, here it is two weeks later, and not one single word of response from her-honor.
So, based on the factors outlined above, intelligence and common sense dictates doubts as to whether or not it really is true that no one will be excluded or slighted relative to full and equal participation in the ongoing RASE process. We shall soon see. Time will tell, as it always does.
Howard J. Eagle, educator, anti-racist expert and member of the Take It Down Planning Committee/Faith Community Alliance Coalition.
Minister Clifford Florence, Associate Pastor, Central Church of Christ, President, Faith Community Alliance and member of the Take It Down Planning Committee/Faith Community Alliance Coalition.