Op Ed by Howard Eagle and allies
As informed citizens of Monroe County, we are disgusted by the fact that the City of Rochester and Monroe County are attempting to convince the public that the subterfuge known as the Racial And Structural Equity (RASE) Commission represents a serious effort to address “structural racism.”
The most fundamental problem with the Commission is that it does not come close to being representative of the social, economic, political, cultural, nor racial demographics of Monroe County, especially as it relates to those who are most directly and most devastatingly impacted by racism.
It is not possible to seriously address institutional or structural racism, without addressing individual racism. Social, economic, political and cultural institutions/structures did not establish themselves. They were established and have been maintained by individuals (whom, in many cases, are either consciously or unconsciously racist).
If individual racism did not exist, the other two major forms (institutional and structural) would wither and die. There are numerous individuals serving as RASE Commissioners who have little or no knowledge concerning the inextricable relationship between the three major forms of racism. It is problematic that people lack basic knowledge regarding that which they are attempting to identify and change.
According to William Johnson, the City and County have allocated (without any input from taxpayers) one-hundred-thousand dollars each, ($200,000) for this “work.” Another major issue and problem is that the Commission is operating in secret, while spending tax-payer money, without permission. Therefore, in accordance with Open Meetings Laws, and/or other applicable, public disclosure laws, we are demanding that all RASE meetings be:
- advertised, including notification of specific locations, dates, times and agendas.
- open to the public.
- recorded, with official minutes available no later than a week after each meeting, and that all expenditures, as well as all newly generated or allocated revenue (beyond the reported $200,000), be made public immediately. The latter point is particularly important, since Mr. Johnson has informed us that: “The City and County have earmarked up to $100K each, with $30K (each) of those funds immediately being used to leverage contributions from private sources.”
Commission leaders are touting the idea that “close to 250 volunteers” are involved in their process. It is important to ask, “involved?” How?—because we have heard this before, via initiatives such as FR=EE and RMAPI, which many of us were “involved” with. However, our “input” disappeared into thin air. We suspect that without proper watchdogging, the same pattern will be repeated.
According to a recent D&C guest editorial by the Commission’s Co-Chairs, “Rochester has a long history of citizen-led advocacy for racial, social and economic justice,” including one led by Bill Johnson when he was Mayor in 2000.Yet, almost nothing has changed.
We are faced with a historic opportunity, and we do not want to see it squandered (like in the past). Thus, we are asking the public to join us this Thursday, 9/24/20 @ 6:00 pm (Central Church of Christ, 101 S. Plymouth Avenue) for a community discussion concerning this vitally important opportunity, and the need for intervention.
Howard J. Eagle, Minister Clifford Florence Sr., and Clianda Florence-Yarde are long time activists, and members of the Take It Down Planning Committee; Faith Community Alliance Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/tidpc)
Also signed by 18 other Coalition members and allies (see below).
Rev. Marilyn Cunningham
Dr. Phyllis Moss
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)