Recently, a group of concerned citizens gathered together to start examining reasons for and solutions to the crime and violence problem in the south part of Apopka FL, aka South Apopka. After months of meetings, focus groups and more meetings, an ambitious, bold and as it turns out costly plan was formulated and presented to the Apopka City Commission. A holistic plan of attack was presented that included: Job creation, educational opportunities, government accountability, crime prevention initiatives designed to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community. And at the end of it all, a request for $1.8 million dollars of taxpayer money, to be funneled into and dispersed via a “high quality and reputable not for profit organization”, who at this point, is still nameless. The plan is long on theory and solutions are presented as a word salad of up to the minute feel-good about ourselves buzz words and plenty of blame placing. Several of the suggestions in the report are variations of programs that already exist or will be started shortly.
Only a couple of sentences in this 40 page report talk about accountability or getting the community to buy-in to the theory and proposed solutions. Plans like this are filled with good and noble intentions; however, plans like this also tend to not only see blacks as helpless victims that can only be lifted up by good deed doers, but can enable a mind-set of self-pity among the black community. The War on Poverty has been fought for decades, with little measurable economic, educational, or employment success; what does that tell you about the chances of success of plans like this one.
So,what is the answer? More money? More costly programs with few measurable metrics to gauge success? Blacks must ultimately help themselves; they must WANT to take the lead in solving their own problems and re-inventing their communities and their lives. They must take ownership of the conclusions and solutions, and take pride in their communities. Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery and fought his way out of it to become a Great Statesman and freedom fighter said, “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us. If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, let them fall… All I ask is give him a chance to stand on his own legs”. Douglass recognized the limits of government benevolence and that it would be up to blacks themselves to ready themselves to meet the challenges of improving their lot in life.
Just this past week, I dialogued with one of the chief authors of this plan, who apparently took exception to my daring to challenge this plan. When I told him my questions and comments were too involved to do via text, I was asked not to waste his time as he is very busy and involved. So I won’t. He suggested I come up with my own plan. So, I plan to explore each aspect of the Apopka Task Force on Violence Report, in detail in the coming weeks. Again, while I applaud the efforts of all involved in this task force, including this very busy, self-important gentleman, I question the blame placing, conclusions and amount of money necessary to accomplish the lofty goals of the Task Force, or whether the goals are even attainable. The plan, in its many phases is full of good intentions, no doubt; but we all know what road those can pave.