“Throughout the history of America black and brown people have struggled to achieve the full rights guaranteed by the Constitution of our Nation. In the struggles to overcome the historic institutions of oppression, heroic figures have creatively organized, resisted and stood against, many times at the of expense of their lands, property, livelihoods and even their lives. The ravages of slavery, tenant farming, sharecropping that kept many Black peoples on the margins of life set in motion a trajectory wrought with unequal standing and opportunity. The theft of the Western US from Mexico and Indigenous communities through doctrines of “Manifest Destiny” and other euphemisms for predatory imperialism dispossessed millions of Brown inhabitants that to this day live with cautious sensibilities.
The human rights movements through civil rights, labor and community organizing have done much to ameliorate historic inequities but much has remained undone as we see past progress being reversed and dis-mantled. From civic participation, voting rights to economic polarization we see the ramifications in our neglected neighborhoods in the urban areas and rural people frozen in time of the latter part of the last millennium.
Though Black and Brown communities have valiantly struggled against abuses and inequality many times we watched each other’s struggles with sympathy and not seen the opportunity to bridge our own cultures to identify our common obstacles. We the undersigned membership organizations declare that we will no longer carry on separately but work, identify and strategize together in identifying common issues and collaborative solutions.”
– Preamble for the Black/Brown Unity Coalition written by Baldemar Velasquez
The mission of the Black/Brown Unity Coalition will be to empower our communities with self-determination through community organizing, education, community services, analysis and advocacy.
To build a cohesive network of engaged residents to gain the agency and institutional credibility needed to successfully address barriers to social mobility. We will seek to acquire economic and social benefits with higher levels of employment, increased job training, improved wages, greater economic stability and a shared community vision.
There will be identified social issues that have impeded access to jobs and education, initiate efforts that will contribute to economic, community integration and domestic tranquility. The coalition will organize and propose solutions that strike at the heart of obstacles and create participatory processes and programs. We will engage government, social agencies, labor, public, and private institutions in fulfilling mandates of good government, community policing, full employment, and peaceful neighborhoods. Dynamic leaders in the Black and Latino communities have already united together in informal dialogue and have merged common concerns with initiatives.
- Create and implement a Code of Conduct with TPD and Lucas County Sheriff’s Department. Police and community relations have been a problem identified throughout low-income neighborhoods. Over 200 house meetings have been conducted in the Latino neighborhoods and problems with local law enforcement and immigration ICE/Border Patrol has been a discussion topic in just about every meeting with the adults and youth. The negative image must be changed to realize true community policing. This means a creative program must be developed that will engage the community and police and win each other over. In addition, the community must see police as their protectors and not assumed to be automatic suspects—which gives rise to profiling and implicit bias. The police must see the community as allies in crime solving. Creative forums for mediation of incidents that would cause the community to dis-trust police must be established to begin changing perceptions of police and community behavior towards one another. Internal affairs complaints do not work for the community as they are not transparent, intimidating, and discourage residents from complaining.
- The other start-up initiative is lighting up darkened neighborhoods. Evidence of neglected neighborhoods shows in the street lights that remain broken and un-serviced has led to many inconveniences to residents. Youth complain that darkened streets, especially in the winter months when many are walking home from school in the dark, makes for difficulties in navigating broken sidewalks and the possibility of assaults. Lighting up the streets would help deter burglaries, home break-ins, and other petty crimes.
- The third challenge will be to develop a formal leadership structure based on membership participation to assure legitimate collective authority and a willingness to take responsibility for financial autonomy and sustainability.
- Together we are addressing lead paint poisoning in Toledo. Our children are being endangered by lead paint in homes. It poisons their brains and bodies and leads to all sorts of problems in school. We can solve this together.
2. FLOC Homies
June 24, 2017-Baldemar Velasquez