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CONVERSATION ON RACE

As we approach the 50 year anniversary of the civil disorders known as the York Riots, which shook this community to its core, the subject of Race and Race Relations continue to be a polarizing and somewhat difficult topic to discuss. We believe that the difficulty and aversion to broaching this subject causes us to remain in a state of ignorance and denial regarding the underlying emotions and causes which sparked the civil disorders of the 60’s and which continue to cause a crippling racial divide in this community today.  We believe this unwillingness and inability to discuss and adequately resolve the long simmering, racially charged issues of the past is detrimental to the overall growth and development of all segments of the community and is actually threatening to the creation of a strong social fabric here in York.

Although there has been incremental progress in the creation of a just and equitable community, any cursory review of quality of life indicators will reinforce the fact that we have a Long way to go in creating a community that really respects, utilizes and values its diversity. Whether we look at the works of social scientist David Rusk who spoke of the need for deliberative efforts to correct the systemic inequalities which exist here, or whether you review the statistical analysis of the York Counts review of Quality of Life indicators, it is perfectly clear that many of the underlying issues which instigated those terrible times of years past continue to plague us today.

We believe one of the first steps to resolving or eradicating those issues is to have open, honest dialogue about Race. To that end we are proposing a Community Conversation on Race modeled on President Bill Clinton’s 1995 National Conversation on Race. This forum and workshop would be designed to bring together interested community residents in a safe, non-threatening environment where we can engage in meaningful, productive conversation centered on healing the trauma of the past and creating a unified vision for engagement and progress as we move together into a more inclusive and prosperous future for All of our citizens. A few of the overarching goals of this initiative will be;

  • To articulate a vision of racial reconciliation and a just, unified community;
  • To help educate the community about the facts surrounding the issue of race;
  • To promote a constructive dialogue, to confront and work through the difficult and controversial issues surrounding race;
  • To recruit and encourage leadership at all levels to help bridge racial divides;
  • To find, develop and implement solutions in critical areas such as education, economic opportunity, housing, health care, crime and the administration of justice — for individuals, communities, corporations, and government at all levels.

At the conclusion of this initiative we will present a report to the community that will represent a vision of One York, which incorporates and builds off of the growing diversity of our community. The report will reflect the work that has occurred during this process including conversations and suggestions at town hall meetings and other venues; reports on how the issue of race has evolved during the last 50 years; and provides recommendations and solutions that enable individuals, communities, businesses, organizations and government to address difficult issues and build on our best possibilities.

In order to accomplish this very important task we are soliciting the support and help of all persons and organizations who have a shared interest in and are concerned about the type of social construct which develops here as we move together into what could be a proud, fruitful and prosperous future. For us all.

For more information and/or to arrange a contribution to our efforts Please contact;

Thank you for your interest, concern and support.

 

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Sports, Culture and Power

 

I want to thank the sponsors of the recent telecast of the York High / Central football game. My schedule has been so hectic lately that I have not been able to see this terrific team play.  It was heartwarming to witness the positive, and emotional celebration this York High team displayed tonight. You could feel the love, the comradeship and the Spirit they displayed, after their well-deserved Victory over Central. Spirit such as this has the potential to Lift the Spirits of all of those around it.

I began thinking about the Cultural and Historical impact this season of success would or could have on the psyche of this community. From past experience, I know how much of an impact the actions and behaviors of a popular, admired or respected group of young men can exert on the climate of a community, positive or negative. Back in the days, as in today, the enlightened could almost track the climate of the community by examining the success or lack of success of its major sports team.

With the difficult and troubling educational process in our community, some people say we spend too much time on “Celebrations”. Not truly understanding that as a people Celebration under adversity has and continue to hold the taunt threads of our survival together. Celebration of familial and communal events serve as a time of rejuvenation and inspiration to a body that faces adversity and struggles for survival almost every single day. The celebration of family members success – Proms, Athletics and Graduation – are almost sacred in our community, even amidst the difficult times.   

Back in the 1980, my Brother Kerry and I ran a few youth development, educational programs around the Philadelphia, New Jersey region. At one of the Universities we participated in a program to train a group of “Positrons” These Positrons would serve as a small cadre’ of youth who could act as internal change agents amongst their peers. The theory was to train groups of young students to act as positive leaders in their communities, which were caught up in the throes of a growing, devasting drug trade.

I’ve always thought that, even though our district has had significant issues, if we could improve the attitude, desire and value our students have towards education, we could overcome any obstacles. And visa versa, if we can’t improve those characteristics our district will continue to struggle however many times we tweak the curriculum or infuse additional resources.   

Even though Culture is highly Political, I don’t want to totally politicize this commentary. So, my thoughts were, can you imagine the young Men of the York High football Team serving as mentors, tutors and role models for the generation of youth coming up behind them. Can you imagine these young men having visible positions throughout the school district, and the community, modeling what success looks like to a younger generation?  Can you imagine the impact of these young student/athletes, most of whom I hear pursue excellence in scholarship, on the educational habits of the rest of the district’s students?

This team and the Spirit they have awakened in this community reminds me of one of the overriding themes of the recent Movie “The Black Panther.” In the movie, the Spiritual connection to Family, Community, History and Culture provides significant buffer against the destructive forces of the World. It has been quite a while since this community has had such a game changing opportunity for improvement like the one it has now.  

Many folks especially many who benefit greatly from much of the downtown development might say they are pleased with the progress of this community

Renovating, rejuvenating, and the development of buildings without Renovating, rejuvenating, and developing the people is simply like putting lipstick on a pig. Not insinuating the town is a pig, but, you get the picture. People say sports. Like music is one of those things which transcend race, politics and the troubles of the world.  

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