Saturday, August 12, 2006

Black Clerics Call for $25 Million

The IndyStar has an interesting piece this morning on two different approaches to the crime problem from within the black community. Approach 1) Ask for the mayor to help lead a public-private funding drive to do something about crime. Approach 2) Work within the black community to solve its own problems. At the heart of it, both approaches seem sound, but what's disturbing is the "all-or-nothing" tone by leaders of both.

In a meeting on Friday, black clerical leaders asked Mayor Bart Peterson for $25 million in social programs to help address some of the issues attributable to violent crime. The tone of the quotes in the newspaper article makes these leaders sound very entitled. They all seem to be focused on what black Hoosiers in Indianapolis should have versus what the city is spending on other projects. However, as the star reported: "Not every black leader thinks the city should get involved." Other black religious leaders have different ideas.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Muhammad Siddeeq, a black Muslim leader with the Nur-Allah Islamic Center, said the black community should address the problem itself.

"We just had the big Black Expo in this city. If we can call (thousands) of African-Americans from around the country to come to Indianapolis, why can't we devote the same effort to the reality of our crisis?" he asked.

Both sides may be missing what really needs to happen which is implement both plans. Why can't the black community address the problem lead by high profile organizations, fundraisers, and individuals? Why can't there be a strong initiative lead by churches and black community organizations doing something other than asking the city for a $25 million handout? (I realize that's an incredibly overgeneralized way to put it, but frankly, that's exactly what it looks like.) Where is the financial and social leadership on this issue from community members supporting their own programs and pushing for education and cultural changes?

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