Braddock, Pa is one of Pennsylvania’s poorest communities. It has been for decades. As with most historic Black communities it’s been slated for Gentrification. A common theme this campaign season has been disappointment over how little our elected representatives have accomplished. Gridlock and infighting have prevented the passage of much legislation that deals with long-term challenges related to the oppression, inequality, economic deprivation and brutality being perpetuated upon Black America, among other issues. The denial of basic human rights to Black Americans has become a human rights crises.
When public confidence in the political structure and it’s policies are compromised, as it has always been when it pertains to the Black communities like Braddock, PA, the entire democratic process suffers. Community residents can no longer allow their elected officials and local Foundations to pursue separate, personal agendas, which increase the likelihood for conflict, tension and costly mistakes. Mistakes leaving those suffering behind and without a voice. Self serving agenda’s a such as those pursued by Braddock, PA’s current Mayor must come to an end. When a community is close to 80% African American in my opinion it makes no sense bringing in a Italian pizza shop while ignoring, and in many cases, outright denying other venture’s a opportunity that more reflect the majority population.
As I have witnessed first hand down through the years just how devastating political corruption and neglect can be to a community I have come to the conclusion, as I have in the past before the organization was formed, that you must directly engage the source of the suffering. The source denying the human rights. In my mind it all starts on the local level. It’s not enough to just protest, forgive and march. Direct action must take place. In my case this has led The Braddock Inclusion Project to our local State Representative’s office. Blame whomever you want but don’t underestimate how much help, as a organization or individual, that you can get with the generational problems facing your community from the people you put in the Senate, the House of Representatives or any elected official on the local level. Being educated on who your electing into local office is vital to addressing most of the systematic oppressive polices and obstructions denying Braddock, PA residents their basic human rights.
In a democracy, state institutions exist to serve the public. State Representatives are obligated to work on behalf of citizens and to help improve the quality of life of those constituencies they represent. To be effective in this role, representatives need to understand the interests and issues of their constituents. Likewise citizens need the opportunity to express their views and discuss their issues with representatives. One of the most important components of a legislator’s job in a democracy is to serve those suffering the most in his/her district by representing their interests in the legislature and by providing a direct link to government. I now expect to have direct contact with Braddock, PA’s elected representative and recognize him as someone who can help solve our problems and help The Braddock Inclusion Project navigate the complex government bureaucracy. As a non profit the organization is limited in it’s action concerning the destructive polices and laws prohibiting the quality of life for Braddock, Pa residents to progress.
Braddock, Pa has laid in ruins for decades so I have taken the initiative to start a dialog with Braddock, PA State Rep to remind him that legislators are expected to represent citizens’ interests. Especially those suffering the most in his district. The majority population of the suffering community must be represented and accounted for in government decision-making. It is our collective individual responsibility to help legislators successfully fulfill their representation roles, as well as provide information that can help them better execute their oversight, polices making and lawmaking roles as it will best benefit those who are now locked out without a voice.
I’m glad to report that The Braddock Inclusion Project is directly engaged with Braddock, PA’s State Representative on developing solutions, goal oriented action plans and initiatives that will help to uplift and empower the majority Black population of Braddock, Pa instead of uprooting and displacing them. We’re committed towards Working to introduce initiatives and programming that provide economic opportunity and self sustaining life solutions that will help make Braddock, PA a model on how Black rust belt communities can be revitalized instead of Gentrified. There’s lots of work to be done and it won’t happen over night but we’re headed in the right direction. For Black America to have any chance Action must start on the local level.