That “peace of mind” is elusive

The following letter was written by SARN Board President Theresa El-Amin and published in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on September 4, 2014.  The letter was written in response to a piece written by senior reporter Chuck Williams (included at the end of this post).

That “piece of mind” is elusive

“Someone is stealing our peace of mind,” says Chuck Williams, senior editor at the Ledger-Enquirer. Chuck’s piece published on September 2 was more like a rallying cry that tells the tale of two cities.

I haven’t had “peace of mind” since I first saw young prisoners doing work that is done by public employees in all the other cities I’ve called home. I haven’t had peace of mind since I heard leaders in Columbus Consolidated Government describe the “tale of two cities” over and over again without a vision to address economic inequality.

Where there are thousands of poor children not succeeding in school, you will have criminal activity that doesn’t go away as long as you have thousands of poor children not succeeding in school. This is where friends in one of my circles would say, “Everybody knows that.”

I’ve moved around a few circles in Columbus enough to know that not everybody knows that children failing in school, a high poverty rate and criminal activity are connected.

Perhaps people really do know, and have decided “it’s somebody else’s problem.”

History has shown us that social problems are addressed by social movements that lead to changes in public policies. Otherwise, we live in fear. We fear people who don’t look like us, talk like us or live where we live.

Fear breeds oppression, repression and suppression. The outcome is a community culture of “them and us.”

Columbus needs a “collective piece of our minds.” That “Great Conversation” can’t start soon enough.

Theresa El-Amin

Columbus

Chuck Williams: Someone is stealing our peace of mind

by Chuck Williams
chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

We have a crime problem in Columbus, people.

That’s a fact that cannot be denied. Now, if only the solution was as easy to state as the obvious.

Ask your family, friends and neighbors if they have had an encounter with the criminal element of this community? You will be surprised by the answer.

In the last month I know four people who have been impacted.

• A good friend ran a Saturday afternoon errand, came back to her home in the Historic District and found it had been broken into and some items she deeply cherished were stolen. I was going to say taken, but they were stolen, just like her peace of mind.

• Another friend ran into his downtown business for a couple of minutes, forgot to lock his vehicle, and a thief reached into it and stole his bookbag. I was going to say took it, but it was stolen, just like his peace of mind.

• Friends of mine in Midtown left their home on a Tuesday morning, one of them circled back less than 30 minutes later to check on something. Their front door had been kicked in, and their TV and other electronic items were stolen. The back door of their neighbor’s home had been kicked in, as well. More stuff was stolen. I was going to say taken, but it was stolen, just like their peace of mind.

• Neighbors in Historic District were recently robbed at gunpoint of their jewelry as they stood in their front yard one night. Again, their peace of mind was stolen — and the damn fool did it by putting a gun in their face.

Four instances that I know about because they happened to people in my circle. That is a pretty rough August, isn’t it?

But here is the kicker, those thieves didn’t just steal from my friends and neighbors, they stole from me and you. They stole — and continue to steal — from our community. They stole our collective peace of mind. The guy who robbed my neighbors at gunpoint, just as well put the gun in my face. And I am not alone. I have seen the Facebook reaction to this incident. I have talked to my neighbors and friends.

The law abiding folks among us are angry and want to find a way to curb this, bring those who terrorize us — and this is a form of domestic terror — to swift justice.

The only good thing I see coming out of this is people coming together to combat it. They are using social media as a tool to communicate and inform. And there are neighborhoods and communities all over this town doing that.

But here is what this issue has also done — it has made me look at people and things differently. And that is unfortunate.

Sunday night I was walking the dogs and saw a man hanging out. He didn’t respond to me when I asked him a question. He didn’t even look at me. He was in an area that has seen a spike in crime. I called 911. My thought was simple, “Let the police sort it out.”

Three weeks ago, I would have never called 911 on that man. Never.

But that was before someone stole my peace of mind.

Chuck Williams, senior reporter, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

Conversation on Race and Reparations

reparations_durham_Aug2014

On August 7, 2014, SARN presented a Conversation on Race and Reparations in Durham, N.C. The event was 6:00-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Durham County Main Public Library, 300 N. Roxboro St.

The speakers were:

William “Sandy” Darity, Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies and Economics at Duke University; and Director, Duke Consortium on Social Equality

Kirsten Mullen, Folklorist and co-author with William Darity of The Big Payback

Larry Reni Thomas, International Organization for Compensation and Reparations for Victims of Wilmington Massacre of 1898, author of The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan

Theresa El-Amin, SARN Regional Director

The perspective of “a transformation of society” in the injury areas of criminal justice, education, economic inequality, environment (including housing) and health care were explored.

Reparations Now!

On July 17, Akinyele Umoja will speak on the historical basis for the demand of reparations. The “Conversation on Race and Reparations” will take place in Columbus GA at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road. Theresa El-Amin will serve as moderator.

Father’s Day Essay Contest

FatherChildrenStudents 8 to 12 and 13 to 18 years were invited to submit an essay on the topic: “What my father means to me.” The essays could be about a biological father, male relative, male coach or mentor who is special to the student.

Essays were be presented on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road, 1:00 – 3:00pm.

 

Cash prizes of $25, $15 or $10 were be given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places respectively in both age groups.  Gift cards werel be given to the subject of the essay in the amount awarded students for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Father’s Day Essay Contest sponsored by Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN) www.projectsarn.org

For more information: fathersdayessay@aol.com or 762-821-1107

Father's Day photo

Father’s Day photo

Father's Day group photo

Father’s Day group photo

Mother’s Day Essay Contest

MotherChildStudents 8 to 12 and 13 to 18 years old were invited to submit an essay on the topic: “What my mother means to me.” The essays were 100 words or less.

Essays were presented on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the Mildred Terry Library, 2:00 – 3:00pm.

Contestants read their essays on May 3rd and cash prizes of $25, $15 or $10 were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively in both age groups.

Other gifts were available for mothers of essay contestants to choose one.

mothers_day_photo2 mothers_day_photo2-2 mothers_day_photo1-7 mothers_day_photo1

 

Columbus Consolidated Government employees and prison laborers are both getting a bad deal

The following is a letter SARN Board Chair Theresa El-Amin published in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on April 30, 2014 by

Interesting that Mayor Tomlinson disclosed the employee pension plan is only 88% funded during the televised debate with Colin Martin on April 21. Granted, 88% is better than the 72% I heard in 2012 when the 15-year clock started ticking. She also mentioned that employees received raises to offset the 4% payment they are required to make into the pension. New employees would pay 8% into the plan. With the hiring freeze and a raise to current employees, how did the plan get from 72% to 88% funded? Columbus Consolidated Government has until 2027 to bring the pension plan to 100% funded. It’s a bit too soon for Mayor Tomlinson to make promises others will have to keep.

The finances of Columbus Consolidated Government become more mysterious day-by-day. Both candidates are pandering to property tax protesters. Colin Martin couldn’t flip fast enough from his earlier position indicating dependence on the regressive Local Option Sales Taxes (LOST) and that home improvements could yield higher property taxes. On April 21, Colin Martin declared to property owners that their “property tax freeze” is safe with him.

Beyond the cosmetic picture of pet adoptions, white water rafting and the natatorium is dependence on free prison labor, murder rate at 3 per month, a $6.5 million deficit, unfair taxation and poverty that is a nightmare for many citizens in Columbus.

The Mayor’s Commission on Unity, Diversity, and Prosperity held a conference on March 20. 2014 titled The Dream Lives: A Wake-up Call, Perpetuating the Dream in a Climate of Haves and Have Nots.

Who needs to wake up? Where are the investigative reporters when we need them?

Theresa El-Amin
Columbus

What’s the connection? Prison labor and poverty in Columbus Georgia

Prison/Poverty

Forum
Thursday, April 3, 2014
6:00 – 7:30pm
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road, CB&T-A

Speakers
Dr. Gary Sprayberry, Department Chair for History and Geography at Columbus State University; Richard Jessie; Theresa El-Amin; Jerome Lawson

Speakers will share ideas on improving the quality of life for Columbus
residents living with poverty and unemployment

Moderator: Tonza Thomas

Organization Sponsors
Columbus Black History Museum and Archives
Southern Anti-Racism Network

Contact: 706-575-3646 or 762-821-1107 or theresaelamin@aol.com

Download the flyer here.