MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Guest editorial by Earle Fisher with the Memphis Grassroots Organization Coalition.
Mayor Strickland's recent state of the city address left much to be desired.
In the speech, the Mayor repeated requests for more volunteers to mentor vulnerable youth. That's helpful, but victory for the majority of our citizens requires more structural and systemic changes.
Mayor Strickland also patted his administration on the back for a 30 percent increase in spending with minority and women-owned businesses. But, a closer look at the numbers reveal a continual underachievement in increases with businesses owned by the largest demographic in the city: black people.
Furthermore, despite Strickland's initiatives to increase the number of MPD officers, studies show no direct correlation between more police and less crime. More importantly, the decline in officers is partially a result of a 2014 city council decision to cut officers benefits–a decision that then-councilman Strickland voted in support of.
Most disappointing was the mayor's failure to provide any policy proposals that could stem the rising tide of failing schools, economic inequality, and immigration anxieties.
There's a story told of hundreds of starfish being washed onto the seashore. A well-intentioned person is trying to return the starfish to the sea one-by-one. A skeptic says, "You can't make a difference to all of these starfish." The charitable person tosses another starfish back and replies, "I've made a difference to that one."
One-by-one interventions are heartwarming, but now is the time for Memphis to ask, "What is causing such high winds and waves that make so many starfish get stranded in the first place?"
We cannot rely on charity. We need justice. We need progressive policies that change the climate in our communities.
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