An open letter to Mayor Williams

Honorable Mayor Williams,
Recently, you released a statement expressing your support for the men and women who serve and protect the citizens of Norwood. As the leader of this city, your intentions were right to stand in solidarity with the police force, but your understanding of race relations in Norwood and the rest of the country is horribly wrong.

Last year brought about intense and sometimes uncomfortable debate about race relations in America. The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner forced Americans to face the racial injustice that takes place in our country.
Demonstrations surrounding these situations were not, I repeat, were not caused by “race baiting black leaders” and “cowardly elected officials,” but by citizens in marginalized communities who finally exercised their right to protest an unfair justice system.

Mayor Williams, please remember that this country’s principle documents and ideas were founded on equality, but this ideal is not a reality in our democracy. We the people have the obligation to make the union more perfect and change laws and practices that mistreat those who often cannot voice their issues freely.

Jonathan Hogue is a junior Philosophy, Politics & the Public major from Aurora, Ill.
Jonathan Hogue is a junior Philosophy, Politics & the Public major from Aurora, Ill.

I urge you to focus your attention on a few facts, Mayor Williams. Your office should address the issue of why one in four black children in this area will grow up in poverty. Mayor Williams, focus on the fact that black families are two times more likely to have their infants die than their white counterparts.
Also, explain the fact that Norwood, a city that is 86 percent white and has an all-white city council, is living in fear of the 7.4 percent of residents who are African American and do not possess the same political leverage and economic status. These citizens are asked to make do with a system that works against them, a system that your letter supports.

Mayor Williams, while it is obvious we disagree about your reasoning in releasing this letter, I do agree with your ideas regarding your city’s first responders. I want the men and women in uniform to return to their loved ones unharmed. Every citizen in your city wishes for peace in the streets and for equality to be the center of our community.

Mayor Williams, I also agree that it is time to challenge cowardly elected officials who ignore our struggles and to demand effective change, and I believe the work begins with you.

You should not abandon the police force, but you should also not abandon the citizens you swore to serve in your role as mayor. Hiding behind polarized race debates shows you are not capable of addressing your own city’s failings and using government to empower the people.

Instead of criticizing black leaders or political counterparts you disagree with, go after the men and women in higher positions of power that defund educational centers, make it hard for people to receive proper healthcare and ignore the realities of being black in America whenever they vote to continue the cycle of marginalization that limits the African American community.
The people of Norwood did not elect you to waste your precious energy on dividing this city. We elected you to work in our best interest.

I close with your own words, “God watch over the Norwood Police Department,” but I also want to add: May God continue to watch over you and open your eyes to the issues your city is still waiting for you to address.