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by Ron Edwards and Peter Jessen
First: Call to the Mayor and City Council
Second: Call to the Minneapolis Community (citizens, neighborhood organizations, churches, voluntary organizations, corporations, small businesses, etc).
CALL TO THE MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL Be People of Resolution and Solution to Achieve the Prize of Freedom: equal access and equal opportunity for all.
The following letter from the Beacon on the Hill Press publisher sent to the Mayor and the City council is an open invitation to Review the book and critique the solutions proposed as a way to begin a Minneapolis "family discussion" to first resolve to solve and then act to solve the city's problems in the seven areas of education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, and ethics, and then either keep the book for future reference or donate the book to a library (public, school, government, agency, college or university, etc.), as the last time they were sent a copy of the book (see 4-3-03 Letter to Mayor and City Council) most returned their copy of the book saying they couldn't receive "gifts," even when they were not sent as gifts.
Dear Minneapolis Mayor and City Council Members,
The enclosed book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, is NOT a gift! This is a review copy, also called "surplus" copy. If you still feel you have to return it as you did last time, give it instead to a library. Then, as now, it is sent as input from a citizen, a community person, Ron Edwards, to add to the public dialogue of issues facing the city. Ron is a citizen you all have, do, and will interact with in some way. My original letter concluded with (see http://www.theminneapolisstory.com/pages/letter2.html): "If you have any further questions or wish to use the book for discussion groups, as some have suggested, or other uses, just let us at Beacon on the Hill Press know how we can help." I noted then that (emphasis added):
The book uses the term “racism” and “racist.” These terms are not used to emotionally obscure fuzzy thinking about the causes of poverty, inequality, different levels of school achievement, etc., about which there is much debate (but, as Ron says Nellie Stone Johnson always used to remind him, “No education, no jobs, no housing, no hope”). Ron uses the terms to build on the Star Tribune’s 1991 series on racism in Minnesota (”Issues of Race”) as he notes in Interlude 2. The terms refer to the prejudice, discrimination, segregation, bigotry, and bias used to deny equal access and equal opportunity, something [many] Whites did not see [in 1991] as an issue.
In a word, the book is about the gaps that still exist between Blacks and Whites in education, jobs, housing, and public safety, why they happened and how to close them. One school of public policy thought blames it innately on Blacks, hence the legality of slavery and Jim Crow. Current public policy follows the 1968 Kerner Commission Report that stated Blacks can't make it on their own and thus need the support and direction of the government (continued by the 1998 "The Bell Curve" that concludes the same saying Blacks are too dumb to make it on their own). These public policy assumptions have kept Blacks from the table of equal access and equal opportunity. In his book Ron calls for changes in public policy in the gap areas to begin to undo the damage caused by those assumptions. As you are the closest to public policy making you are the ones best able to reverse bad policy instituted by your predecessors. However, each time a policy group doesn't do so, they too become part of the reasons for the gaps. That is not a "blame" statement. It is a legacy statement. Certainly all of us realize that we live in a world that is not free of intellectual difficulties, not free of insoluable problems, such that if we would just all have good will these problems would be solved. Breaking the cycle of welfare dependency for both Blacks and Whites (not to mention corporations) and enabling long-term employment is still a shared goal without a clear "how to" answer in our post-agricultural, post-industrial, information dominated economy. But Ron lists specific "how's" for closing the gaps.
Ron doesn't suggest in his book that "ought" equals "can." He does suggest that the gaps can be closed and outlines a process for achieving it. To do so, the first requirement is to repudiate the 1968 policy base of the Kerner Commission Report that Blacks are "unable" to make it on their own and thus need government support and direction. The second requirement is the political will to act with appropriate public policy reflecting a repudiation of Kerner policy. This is not to deny government programs. But it is hard to argue with the empirical reality that "American capitalism is the most efficient antipoverty machine the world has ever seen." Government can help but not when its programs are never doubted or, worse, excused when they do actual, proven damage, as seen in the gaps Ron articulates in his book that government policy helped create. Those are addressable. Ron recognizes the insight of JFK that the economic system is not some monolith acting on people. Rather, people act upon it, hence JFK's "don't ask what government can do for you" question, but rather, instead, ask what people can do for themselves and for the government. In other words, Ron's book avoids the anthropomorphic attitude of an economic "system" that always places the key role on government.
We would like to receive your thoughts on Ron's suggestions for closing the gaps by insuring there is a place at the table for everyone, as outlined in (1) the suggestions of the book gathered together in Chapter 17, that have been expanded and arranged into (2) the 7 Solutions paper and (3) the Minneapolis Table Building Blocks, paper (both being in the Solution Papers section of www.TheMinneapolisStory.com web site). We believe Minneapolis can use these to either show the way to other cities on how to solve the problems of the inner city or it can continue the opposite, showing America how to keep inner city Blacks down and "in their place".
In the 8/31/03 7 Solutions piece, David Jennings is quoted, at 7.f, following a statement of his in the Strib in 2000, of the need to hold public discussions, what he called a "family meeting," on critical issues facing the city. In this case, 7 issues to start the discussion are listed. Table Blocks would serve as a wonderful framework for such discussions. It and 7 Solutions are available free on the web site. To contribute to the discussion, we are willing to offer the book at discount for groups at $7.50 each for multiple orders, plus S&H. Let us know if there are other ways in which we can be of help.
CALL TO THE COMMUNITY, 12-11-03
Call to the Minneapolis Community (Call to the Minneapolis Community (citizens, neighborhood organizations, churches, voluntary organizations, corporations, small businesses, etc)): Become apart of the solution, not the problem: Be People of Resolution and Solution to Achieve the Prize of Freedom: equal access and equal opportunity for all.
There are several wonderful pieces to use to help discuss the 7 critical areas of need in Minneapolis (education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, ethcis). Several come to mind that could be used to hold discussions, workshops, and seminars, especially (1) the book, The Minnenapolis Story, Through My Eyes, (2) the 7 Solutions paper , (3) the Minneapolis Table Building Blocks paper ("The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together"), and (4) the materials on the web site of www.theminneapolisstory.com. Will we let yesterday's questions haunt tomorrows answers? Will we strive to meet High Hopes or continue the status quo of Hopeless Helplessness? Dream Fulfillment or Dream Deferment." For this holiday season, my publisher is offering the book at a special price of $15 each, or $10 each for orders for 10 or more, or $7.50 each for orders over 10 for discussion groups of community and voluntary organizations (plus S&H). The books can be ordered from either www.BeaconOnTheHill.com or from www.TheMinneapolisStory.com
Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.
Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for the columns. Please cite www.TheMinneapolisStory.com for blog entries and solution papers.
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