Monday, March 02, 2009

It's Time To Prevent A Riot by Akindele Akinyemi

I am currently reading up on three cities that had outbreaks of violence in the past 20 years. These cities are Los Angeles (1992), Cincinnati (2001), Benton Harbor (2003) and Toledo (2005).

All three cities have a similar pattern of issues. High crime, failing schools, political monopoly, high unemployment, and broken families. Police brutality is high in these areas as well.

How does urban conservatism play a role in preventing these mass catastrophes from happening again.

Try education.

I was disappointed to see the results of the CPAC straw poll in Washington D.C. that placed education near the bottom of the issues. Mainstream conservatives STILL do not understand the importance of education. You cannot become a scholar by listening to Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. Education eradicates poverty. That is a fact. Rush or Ann are not trying to eradicate anything.

This is why urban conservatives MUST at all cost embrace the need for educational reform here in urban areas. Our issues cannot be limited to just social conservatism but we must be able to expand our minds by crafting smart urban policy to deal with these issues. I am not pushing social conservatism to the side. I am simply wanting my social conservatives to take a more pro-active role by connecting with the various non-profits organizations and faith-based groups to push for radical change in urban communities.

The next urban crisis will come from Muskegon Heights, Detroit, Pontiac or Flint. These cities, with a rapid declining tax base, is hurting for jobs, bleeding residents and the schools in the area have collapsed academically.

The car manufacturing sector was the base for Detroit's prosperity and employed the majority of its residents. When this industry began relocating outside of the city, it experienced massive population loss with associated urban decay, particularly after the 1967 riots. In 1950 the city's population was (according to the U.S. census) around 1.85 million; by 2003, this had declined to 911,000, a loss of nearly 940,000 people (52%).

Detroit has been experiencing White Flight for nearly half a century but it is not experiencing Black Flight. This is where African Americans have been returning to the South to the states of Georgia, Texas, and Maryland. In many cases, they are following the movement of jobs to the South. Because more African Americans are attaining college degrees, they are better able to take advantage of such opportunities in new economic niches. Most African American migrants have gone to the New South states, where economies have grown from knowledge industries, service and technology. In addition to Atlanta, the top metropolitan areas attracting African Americans include Orlando, Tampa and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and Charlotte, NC.

With the brain drain occurring in areas like Detroit and Pontiac it leaves poverty stricken people behind who are "trapped." This leads to negative conclusions such as high crime and home invasions. This leads to high level of ignorance from residents who feel charter schools "cherry pick" the good students and leave the "bad" students in failing public school districts such as Detroit, Flint or Pontiac. Nothing is further from the truth. The problem is greed and a lack of understanding of how to manage schools.

Urban conservatives can help transform the communities they live in by addressing the issues of infant mortality, lack of health care, insurance redlining and using credit scoring, urban and regional planning, high crime, HIV/AIDS and other STDs that are affecting young people.

Traditional mainstream conservatives are out of touch with the inner cities not because of the platform is traditionally an one size fits all approach. It's bad enough for the Democratic Party to keep Blacks and minorities on the plantation with big government. Now the Republican Party, which is supposed to be a party of freedom and justice, want to keep Blacks on the plantation by reminding us that Blacks do not support same-sex marriage, really do not support abortion and other social line-items. Both parties are using some form of "social engineering agenda" or to control urban areas and its time to let people know that we are more intelligent than the traditional line-items to keep us in place. All Blacks are not confused when they vote Democratic. Most of us vote Democratic because the GOP will not even come into urban areas. That alone is ridiculous and inexcusable. If the issue is education then we need to get on the speaking circuit, produce materials and curriculum that will help people understand why Blacks traditionally voted for the GOP. However, most people in my age group who vote Democratic can articulate those issues already. Which means that we need a different approach to the problem.

Urban conservatives are change agents not whiners. Yes, Blacks are the only group of people I have personally encountered where we call each other names if we belong to another political affiliation (i.e. Uncle Tom, Sambo, Aunt Jemima, Sellout, House Slave, etc) but do we allow this to stop us from our mission? Grow a spine and get with the program for once. Most people who call us names are not even educated to begin with so why even pay them attention? Stop being afraid to debate the National Pan-Hellenic Council (Black Greek Organizations) on the issues. Stop avoiding going to the Black Student Alliance/Union meetings to reach out on these college campuses. We have to be responsible for reaching out to everyone in academia. K-16 education needs to be challenged, needs to be restructured and taught correctly. If liberals want to indoctrinate our children then we need a "Fairness Doctrine" for K-16. Again, urban conservatives MUST lead the way on these issues.

We cannot allow the GOP to use Black Republicans for social conservative agendas ONLY. We cannot stay stuck in one dimension when the rest of the people in the party are crafting policies that we are not sitting at the table on. I'm not talking about GOP policies I am speaking of policies that will affect people lives.

Other races of people have built an economic platform FIRST. Traditionally, Blacks have built a social platform FIRST. We did it backwards. Now, with a silver rights platform we can talk about transportation, health, urban planning to help generate wealth creation through rebuilding our families to prevent a riot in the inner cities of Michigan.

This is why urban conservatives MUST take action in forging a GOP Urban Agenda that will help reshape policy in local and county areas. We are so fast to create a national agenda we often forget about that all politics are local FIRST. Start with the focus groups in our community and build from there.

If we do not begin to stop the in-fighting, the name calling in city government and keep electing the same people in office then we are headed towards another riot catastrophe here in our urban areas in Michigan.

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