Now Is the Time for Justice!

RECEIVED Tue., June 12, 2007

Dear Editor,
    I am writing this letter as an involved citizen in East Austin who is a member of the Blackshear Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association and current president of the Organization of Central East Austin Neighborhoods. It is apparent to me that we as a community have not attained racial reconciliation and social justice.
    Too many of our black and Hispanic young people are caught in the tar pit of our criminal justice system. It is this system that keeps our youth targeted by police, mired in criminality, and burdened in financial servitude. There are no job-training programs, no jobs, alternative sentencing, or early interventions for our community – only jail, financial penalties, and possibly death or injury at the hand of law enforcement.
    This system must be recognized for what it is: the unmentionable "R"-word. It infects not only the way the police treat blacks and browns in East Austin. It also still lingers in our community schools that struggle with resegregation, lack of resources, and attempts to close minority schools. It is embedded in the UT landgrab of the Blackland neighborhood. It clings to our City Council in the form of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" that designates two seats – one black, one Hispanic – to be elected at large. It is especially noxious in the form of gentrification and the expulsion of minorities and the poor from their neighborhoods through ever-increasing property taxes. It is apparent in the planning and development of high-rent condos and townhomes encircling our neighborhoods and sold or rented at rates that only the wealthy can afford. It also identifies the future demarcation of the minority community as east of 130/183 toll road.
    Kevin Brown can be found again and again in our history, recent and past, going back to emancipation. Instead of once again focusing on the individual act of one police officer against another minority, it is time the city, county, and AISD work with the black and Hispanic community to identify ways to reconcile a racist past and actually work toward a more just society. It is also time for young blacks and Hispanics to pull up their pants, tighten their belts, lace up their tennis shoes, and get to work. We are not in the promised land. It's up to your generation and your children's generation to pick up the banner from your grandparents and parents and fight for racial and social justice.
Rudolph Williams
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