Racism is a
tool used to maintain a system of social, political and
economic control. Sometimes racism is explicit. At other
times, this ignoble apparatus of manipulation is embedded in
the camouflage of anti-black structures in order to
accomplish its goals more subtly. The truth is, that whether
explicit or implicit, racism hurts and requires us to seek
our own healing.
I am deeply
concerned and troubled by Toledo City Councilman Tom
Waniewski’s recent reprehensible comments in which he
compared the African-American patrons of a bar to
cockroaches. The portrayal of minorities in non-human terms
has, historically, been effectively used to manipulate
public opinion in order to justify the exploitation and
mistreatment of blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans.
Think of the
concepts and terms associated with the word cockroach and
how they send a message as to how blacks are to be perceived
and therefore be treated: teeming, pester, swarm, overrun,
undesirable, unacceptable, troublesome, to name a few. Or,
nasty, filth, scourge, or contamination. And, the most
troubling, perhaps, exterminate.
a political leader who has previously expressed anti-black
sentiment and his most recent comment is in keeping with a
worsening racist climate that has become more overt than it
has been in previous decades. This kind of rhetoric, when
coming from political leaders, tends to embolden and
exacerbate racial animus and thus lead to increased
occurrences of hate crimes.
those capable of leading us into a better world?
The lack of
response from elected officials is most disheartening to me
because it is an indication of where our leaders truly stand
on the issue of race.
comments condemning these hateful remarks by Mayor Wade
Kapszukiewicz, the three Lucas County Commissioners and from
Democratic Party Chair Kurt Young? Or, in particular, from
Waniewski’s potential successors - District 5 candidates Sam
Melden, Connor Kelley or Republican candidate Tom Names?
didn’t we hear from current City Council members, including
those of color such as Tyrone Riley, Larry Sykes, Yvonne
Harper, Cecelia Adams or Gary Johnson.
words do hurt and silence emboldens the inflicting of even
I’d like to
think that the issue of race - the institution that “broke
America at its foundations,” would be enough on its own to
generate an emphatic response from our leaders that says ‘We
cannot and will not accept it here in this City.’
other hand, if dehumanizing rhetoric is an indicator of
anti-black sentiment, it is the “normative, seemingly
civilized racism that is the racial monster we must work
hard to defeat,” says scholar Eduardo Bonilla-Silva.
civilized, Bonilla-Silva is referring to seemingly
non-racial market dynamics, structures and policies which
“justify the contemporary racial order of things that keeps
minorities disadvantaged and explains black and brown
poverty, high unemployment and higher incarceration rates.”
Racism Hurts Too
months ago, a few of us in the community came together to
call attention to TARTA’s weekend service cuts, which were
enacted without proper public input and lacked an
appropriate assessment of the impact on disadvantaged
communities. These cuts have caused disproportionate damage
to the lives of those who could afford it the least.
situation has still not changed. The cuts continue, the
damage to lives continues as TARTA’s leadership continues to
leave disadvantaged and people of color out at the curb,
defaulting on its core mission to transport people to and
from places like work, grocery stores and church.
With no public
transportation, TARTA also threatens the 1200 new Amazon
jobs coming to Rossford, or at least leaves poor and
communities of color out of the mix, the result which not
only perpetuates poverty, but chokes economic and workforce
will tell you that they were left with no choice but to
eliminate access for many of its most vulnerable clients
because of its inability to change its antiquated system and
placing minorities out front to cape hard for them, however,
the truth is that TARTA’s policy decisions have appeared to
be anti-people of color; anti-people who use mobility aids;
anti-people who are poor; and anti-economic and workforce
leadership has failed to garner the support to change their
antiquated structure. Yet, the transit authority remains
stuck at a standstill.
What is needed to move
forward equitably and responsibly?
TARTA needs leadership that will listen to the entire
community— in board rooms, community centers and church
basements—and revitalize the IDEA of equitable contemporary
public transportation in this community.
TARTA needs leadership that is competent to build a
consensus from central city to suburb to township on how
TARTA can serve EVERYONE in this community.
TARTA needs leadership that can galvanize public support for
mass transit in this community, not mime while it withers
you’ve been listening to the things that are being said or
paying attention to the things being done (or not done), the
results are clear:
for a change.
We need new leadership.
Both at Toledo City
Council and at TARTA.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at