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Something to Think About: Instead of Protesting 100-Year-Old Images, Let’s Think About What’s Important

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn


michael_vaughn2There are many issues which have vied for our attention in this very fast-paced world in which we live. And, as a result, there are only so many hours in the day, which we can devote to any one thing.

It is because of this that I would like to ask the question this week, “What is important?”

The genesis of this thought has centered around one of the latest, controversial issues some African-Americans in this city have been discussing, including an image on one of the panels of the carousel at Charlotte Beach.

Energy and feelings have gone into the desire; no, the demand, that these images should have been removed.

This is troubling to me. However, it’s not the images themselves which have been troubling me, but the fact that folks have really been giving their attention to something like this.

It’s as though they have been manufacturing something to disagree with, and to complain about.

These images have been on the carousel for more than 100 years!

Why is it, all of a sudden, this is a major problem in 2016?

The issue has highlighted some of the concerns I have had with the so-called “activists” in this community. These individuals have tended to focus on issues no one has had a problem with, but them.

However, they do not want to tackle the hard problems.

Out of all of the problems that have plagued this city, including crime, poverty, low graduation rates, etc.; they want to focus on an image which has been in place since before most of the population of Monroe County was even conceived.

And, I’m not saying we ought not to give attention to things which have occurred in the past, however, we always have to ask ourselves: “What is most important?”

As an African-American, it has bothered me to see this weakness on display, from those in our community who have claimed to be our leaders. It has not taken strength to blame someone, or to have demanded someone listen to your complaints.

It takes strength to roll up your sleeves, and change the hearts of the people who live in the community which you claim to lead.

However, it seems most of our “African-American leaders” are continuing to lead from a place of weakness and victimization, by telling African-Americans it is someone else’s fault, and that they have been mistreated.

Yet, on the contrary, it has been my experience that the only lasting method for effecting real change is to lead from a place of strength.

I believe it is important to realize who you are during your time on earth, and that you are a person with purpose, who has a God-given assignment to fulfill. It is also important not to let obstacles stand in the way of completing that assignment!

There will always be people who do not like us, for one reason or another, or who may do things which we do not like.

However, what we need to do is to ignore them, and to continue on our purposed path.

As a result, instead of taking the time to get 100-year-old images removed, let’s demand the city school district’s graduation rates increase, in a steady manner, over the course of a defined period of time. And, if they don’t, let’s get rid of the entire school board, and get some folks in there who are not afraid of making a difference.

Let’s demand the city of Rochester spend money in a manner which will bring real economic prosperity to the region, instead of filling in a hole that was the eastern part of the inner loop, or investigating how to make the Port of Rochester a stop for a cruise ships cruising the Great Lakes.

City government has spent money on projects which are simply a waste of time, and will not help those who have continued to be the most impacted by a lack of jobs.

There are many problems which have plagued our city, any one of which it could take years to effectively change.

Consequently, it is our leaders’ job to determine what the most significant ones are, and then determine a plan we can effectively use to impact those issues.

I truly believe, if they did, removing a 100-year-old image would not be on the list!

We are a strong, smart, creative people; so, let’s stop following those who lead from a place of weakness, and think one of the most pressing problems in our region is a 100-year-old image on a carousel at the beach, which is not even in use for six months out of the year!

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