Another Candle Light Vigil?

With increasing frequency local news programs have shown candle light vigil after candle light vigil for victims of violence in the city of Syracuse. I have to respectfully say that perhaps we’re lighting the candles but putting them in the wrong place.

How many people have to die before someone realizes that this problem has been aging and fermenting like an old wooden cask of Jack Daniels?

When I look at where the young people live, especially where young African Americans, there is little to no economic activity. The small shops that traditionally employed neighborhood children are now extinct. Face it — your chances of seeing a prehistoric raptor in Syracuse are greater than economic justice to the inhabitants of our most challenged neighborhoods.

Funds have been invested in Little Italy, Tipp Hill, Armory Square and downtown. Business districts in Eastwood and on Westcott Street are ever-changing to meet the needs of their neighborhood clients. Look at how upscale a few of the restaurants on Westcott Street have become.

If you live in a challenged neighborhood there are no stores there are no services. There are no job opportunities for these young people.

Field Trip suggestion: drive down South Salina Street from the old Sears Roebuck to Valley Plaza. As you head south gaze from your window at some of the buildings that appear as though they’re about to topple with the next severe weather outbreak.

It’s as if entire swaths of this city were ignored when it came down to the fair and even development and maintenance of schools in poorer neighborhoods, amenities like quality of shopping and retail shopping choices.

The 2005 MetroEdge report presented results of a study that showed the potential economic impact of business development within the black community. How many millions of dollars in consumer purchasing actually escape the South Side as people take their money and go to the suburbs for their goods and services!

The reason the MetroEdge study was hidden from the public is that if people knew they were going to be uprooted to take down the highway and expand the university — the concept behind the study — they’d raise hell.

If they knew the real economic impact of those shoppers being able to buy goods on South Salina Street instead of going out to a mall, they’d understand that hawking that report as a catalyst for development would have attracted some developers to establish businesses in these neighborhoods.

In the meantime, as hopelessness escalates along with outrage, we light another candle, and another, and then another.

The only way I’d participate in a candle light vigil is if we could light the candle under the asses of those whose responsibility it is to lead and govern this city and county. I’d light a candle under the Common Council for failure to deal with this growing cancer in our neighborhoods.

I’d light a candle under the Onondaga County Legislature’s butts, too, and let us not leave out the Syracuse City School Board for just providing the uneven distribution of education resources that have historically negatively impacted the African American community.

What would happen if people who held candles at these vigils showed up at the Common Council Chamber or lit a candle under the seats of the Onondaga County Legislature?

Something would get done.

December 9,2010