Here's a way to combat poverty and racism
The writer of the letter "The Silence of Our White Leadership" describes her frustrations at the limited impact of her efforts in effectively addressing the poverty and racism that persist in our community (and by extension our nation and our world). She reports a lifetime of efforts to alleviate such problems on both individual and small group bases and notes the feeling of "what more can I do?"
One suggestion would be to consider the activities of the Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society (Roc/ACTS https://sites.google.com/site/rochesteracts/).
This local affiliate of the Chicago-based Gamaliel Organization is an alliance of 24 faith-based organizations of mixed denominations who believe that, while charity and advocacy are fitting responses to immediate needs, they are not the way in which these problems will be solved. That will require the fundamental transformation of the structures and systems that support and sustain poverty, racism, sexism, etc. in our society.
Roc/ACTS believes this can best be achieved by developing power through shared values and by organizing the people directly impacted (and, of course, of money). In the four years Roc/ACTS has been in our community, we have begun this work with a grassroots listening campaign that asked people to identify the most pressing problems facing the community at large. Their responses led to the establishment of three task forces (education, poverty and Jobs, and Criminal Justice) charged with formulating issues and working to bring about structural changes.
Working with other interest groups and the people affected by the problems, we've been instrumental to date in:
• Increasing county funding for childcare (so that parents could go to work assured of the well-being of their children), and
• Raising the age for incarceration in New York State (so that 16- and 17-year-olds don't end up on a path to lifelong crime from being imprisoned with adults).
We are currently working on supporting community efforts to significantly revise the defective accountability mechanisms for complaints of police misconduct and in raising the wages of those (mostly women of color) who make up the bulk of our home-based health-care workers.
Much work remains to be done. We need all the help we can get, so our task forces are open to anyone in the community (member of an affiliate or not) who wants to work with us.
On November 2 at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church (304 Joseph Avenue), we will be holding our annual Public Action event, at which we will be presenting our current issues to community leaders and asking for their commitment to work with us on exposing and eliminating the causes of economic and racial injustice here in our community. All are invited to participate.
Insull co-chairs the Roc/ACTS poverty and jobs task force.
Broadcast news and gun violence
On Urban Journal's "Las Vegas, Guns, and the Evil of Inaction": Mary Anna Towler asks: "How can this keep happening in this country?" Partly because these events have turned into a spiraling feedback loop among the perpetrators, the broadcast press, and every politician enamored by the broadcast press. Viewers like myself complete the full cast of characters.
The usually sober CBS News ran footage of concertgoers scrambling for cover for over 12 hours. In the beginning, the stars were the broadcasters. After a while, the shooter and his mate became supporting actors, because we didn't know very much about them. But we certainly know a lot about those beautifully dressed, beautifully tressed personalities who fill our huge, omnipresent TV screens from every nook and cranny day and night.
"After every tragedy," Towler writes, "the media publish profiles of the victims and we weep." I don't think a lot of people cry for the dead, except for their own families, or for the living who must bury the dead or live with their own injuries. Before we know the names or the stories of the dead and injured, the famous broadcasters start telling us about the heroes. The survivors. The saviors. An inexcusable tragedy turns into an exciting drama filled with celebratory moments. The shock and horror and revulsion are blunted. Movie scripts and TV options are already forming in the minds of yet another set of media professionals.
Then the politicians step in. Depending on their behavior they become members of the lead cast, or they become the new lead actors – heroes, anti-heroes, or villains – as one politician after another makes a public statement about the situation, dressed up for cameras that always run. Then come the political analysts and daytime TV personalities who comment on what the politicians are saying, completing the feedback loop on the same set of regular news shows.
After watching Megyn Kelly struggle to pretend that she cared more about this horrible incident than about her chance to talk about it in front of a camera in a pair of skin-tight black yoga pants, I made a decision to stop watching all forms of televised news media. I can still read the paper, but for me broadcast news has become a part of a problem that is killing far too many Americans every single day.
On County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo's decision to increase Child Protective Services staffing: Perhaps Ms. DiNolfo, or better yet her predecessor, Maggie Brooks, can explain why Child Protective Services was allowed to be insufficiently staffed for so long?
It would be interesting and informative to know if the reason was that, A) additional staffing requests were never made, or B) staffing requests were made and either denied or only partially approved.