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The People and the Powers That Be

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

(The system) is the most hidden and denied level of evil. We cannot see it because we are all inside of it and it is in our egoís self interest to protect the corporate deception. 

                           -  Richard Rohr


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

Although councilman Kurt Young has long been a local force for fighting injustices perpetrated against disadvantaged people, his work has always seemed to fly under the radar,

Perhaps that is the nature of warfare against systems, the unseen but formidable forces that not only determine the choices of powerful policymakers, but which also shape the decisions of those who are directly affected by those policies.

In part two of our conversation, Young, a candidate for one of six at large council seats in the November 7 election, talks about fighting the often-faceless evil of racism.

Perryman: What are your thoughts on what many believe to be the racial divide?

Young: Are you talking about in Toledo or are you talking about other places?

Perryman: Iím talking about both, because in my opinion, what we see elsewhere on television or in the news leaves residual effects in Toledo.

Young: Absolutely.  And I mean, for instance, some folks tried to make the outcome of the primary about race, saying that the Democrats of color are on the inside looking out at the folks who are not of color while the other three Democrats are on the outside looking in. I donít buy that. 

Again, Harvey Savage has done a lot in this community and is well known, as was his father.  Harvey did what he needed to do to be where he is at right now.  Gary Johnson has done a lot in this community and ran a very good campaign and I know because we worked together.  We knocked on doors together and he got where he was by hard work and doing the right moves.  I donít think the reason he finished higher than me is because he is a person of color and Iím not.  I think that Iím the unknown quantity and I had to work hard and so do Sam [Melden] and Nick [Komives] have to work hard. 

But, no question that [racism] is out there, people have this crazy notion that color and race arenít around anymore, that racism was dead but itís still here. Institutional racism is still here, weíve got a ton of work to do and I want to keep working on that whether Iím former Councilman Young or Councilman Young.

Perryman: When you say Ďworking on,í I assume that you are talking about structural or systemic racism. Right or wrong?

Young:  Well, Iím talking about institutional racism.  Iím also talking about just one-on-one people getting to know each other.  My parents took this attitude and weíve taken this attitude with our kids also.  My parents wanted me to have a variety of friends and they had a variety of friends so that you canít turn a kid into a bigot if you show them that here are friends who are gay, here are our friends who are people of color, so that you get that experience of them having friends and you having friends. You canít turn a child into a bigot that way, at least I hope not.  And I think weíve raised two kids that love what they see as far as diversity, but weíve also got to work on the institutional end of things. 

Weíve got a court system that still has issues. Weíve still got a struggle with our police department.  Weíve got to work with that in our educational system.  There are just so many fronts - healthcare for instance where we seeÖ

Perryman: The social determinants of health? The disparities?

Young: The disparities, yes, absolutely. I mean, I personally am of every privilege you can think of.  Iím white, Iím Christian, Iím Cisgender, Iím straight, Iím a professional, I came from a middleclass family, got to go to a really good law school, and yeah I had to take out a bunch of student loans to do it, but they gave me student loans.  So other than wealth, I come from every advantage there is. Weíve got to work on, again, the economic disparity, the racial disparity, the educational disparity.  We deal with things every day, for instance, in my practice the Bureau of Workerís Comp thinks that everybody has access to a computer and high speed internet and itís like Ďwhoa guys, timeout, not everybody does.í  Not everybody has a smart phone. So weíve got lots of work to do just to make sure that weíre not excluding people or dealing with them unjustly based on something like that.

Perryman: Just a couple more things.  One issue that has plagued the African American community has been the level, if not the high profile, of violence in the inner city.

Young: I absolutely saw the issue on Facebook the other day.  And Iíve actually seen the violence from a block away because coming inÖwe live in the Old West End and coming into my home, two young men whipped out guns and emptied the clips at each other and so Iíve seen that firsthand. 

Perryman: How do we address the violence?  I mean people are meeting daily.  There are discussions on the 22nd floor, 21st floor.

Young:  All of the above.

Perryman: Yet the violence seems to continue unabated.

Young:  And I wish I had some magic bit of wisdom thatís just the missing piece here.  I mean, again, Iíve marched in the 2-Mile March to End Gang Violence.  My wife Cheri used to do the prayer vigils every time somebody got shot or stabbed or victimized in any way by violence and went to them.  Weíve got to do something from a systemic as well as on all kinds of fronts.  Some of the problem is income or poverty.  I sat there once in law school with a group of grad students and we were trying to figure out what the common denominator is. A pretty good law school, Case Western, and we had law students, med students, business students, museum science students, we were trying to figure out what got us to grad school, what was the common denominator, and we couldnít find one. 

Some of us went to public school, some of us private, some came from wealth, some of us were there on scholarships or on loans, all kinds of family setups from aunts and grandmothers raising people to the perfect nuclear family with 2.4 kids and mom and dad and all that stuff.  The common denominator was that there was an adult who cared about us showing up at school, that we actually went, that we had - however they did it - the clothes on our back, the food in our belly. 

Weíve got to have more support for those who are raising kids.  Weíve got to have more opportunities for kids to do constructive things. None of these are an easy fix. After school tutoring enrichmentís great, but youíve got to put food in the belly, youíve got to make sure somebodyís making sure the homeworkís happening, youíve got to get kids to show up and then even thatís still not a guarantee that weíre not going to have that, but itísÖitís all of the above.  Weíve got to work on supporting families.  Weíve got to give kids activities.  Weíve got to have some kind of economic development so thereís something besides drugs and a gang for belonging in a future. 

Weíve also got a culture where weíre throwing away - not just a generation, but now multiple generations where they are disposable.  I mean, look at the video from that.  Nobody called for help.  Now, is it because they donít trust whoís going to show up or is it because they donít care or a combination?  I donít know.  There are so many things to do. I wish I had a magic answer. 

Itís all those things we have to work on and as a good liberal, a respect for life, you can be prochoice and still say all lives matter and I donít mean that as being black lives matter because I do think that thatís something we have to work on.  I hear these all lives matter people speak and itís like yeah, but black lives matter isnít saying just black lives matter, theyíre just saying that at like five times the rate or more, men and women of color are dying and so can we focus on this right now?  The house is on fire over here, we donít need to take care of all the houses right now, letís go take care of this house first.  That doesnít mean the other houses donít matter, letís just put the fire out.

Perryman: All lives canít matter if black lives donít matter.

Young:  Right. Cheri was one of the speakers when we hit the rally after Trayvon Martin. Now again, my son can wear a hoodie and probably go and get skittles and an iced tea without being harassed by somebody in a neighborhood watch kind of thing, but if I donít care about Trayvon Martin, how do I make sure my sonís safe?  So I donít have an easy answer, I wish I did. 

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/12/17 20:55:53 -0700.



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