Book Fair panelists discuss a fair future | South Florida News
On Monday, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava participated in Goulds’ Walking One Stop collaborative effort with South Dade officers to address the increase in gun violence tragedies in Miami-Dade County.
On the same day, the Miami Dade College North Campus Marshal worked to inform the community of a Rising Black Scholars program that will provide free tuition for up to two years, employment support and resources for black graduates of the secondary.
These efforts followed “Miami-Dade County Black Communities: History, Present and Future,” a virtual Miami Book Fair panel that featured a discussion on how community leaders can help create a fairer future for Black Miamians.
Guests included Levine Cava; Dr. Yanela McLeod, Assistant Professor at Florida A&M University and author of “The Miami Times and the Fight for Equality: Race, Sport, and the Black Press”; Kalyn Lee, 2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Miami-Dade County Public Schools; and Teri Williams, president and chief operating officer of OneUnited Bank, the country’s largest black-owned bank.
“The history of segregation in South Florida and the evils that accompany it should not be ignored,” said Malou Harrison, president of Miami Dade College, who introduced the panelists. “Even though fierce battles have brought us closer to equality, there are glaring inequalities which are both implicit and manifest.”
During the discussion, each guest was asked to identify practical steps they would take individually or with their respective institutions to initiate progress in the black communities they serve.
Levine Cava mentioned that his Equity and Inclusion office is committed to focusing on policies, practices and purchasing at the county government level, workplace biases and enforcement. strategies to uplift black-owned businesses.
“History is so central to where we are today; we have a country founded on slavery and racism endures, ”she said. “I have spent my career and my life trying to right these wrongs. As mayor, I have an affinity for creating new agendas and commitments to focus on the inequality, divide, and prejudices that persist.
Over the next few months, the mayor’s office will deploy neighborhood security efforts to reduce gun violence, increase opportunities for vocational training and job search, work to restore trust between the forces of the order and crowded communities, and be intentional with housing investments and programs.
“We need to measure not how many people are participating in a program, but how their lives have really changed. Success has to be marked by how people move up the economic ladder, ”added Levine Cava.
Williams told the public that his decision to work for OneUnited Bank was rooted in his desire to help build wealth in black communities.
“One of the reasons I became a banker and do what I do is that banks have actually been more of the problem in terms of wealth creation for our community,” she said. declared. “There is an opportunity for banks to help the black community, but it requires a different approach from what has historically been the case. “
Williams pointed out that the racial wealth gap is not something blacks self-imposed – it’s a direct result of slavery, Jim Crow laws, predatory lending and redlining. She said the best thing black communities can do is start small and learn about the tools available to build wealth, and suggested opening a savings account or writing a will.
With OneUnited, Black residents can take advantage of first-time homebuyers that offer down payment assistance of up to $ 70,000. Williams also encouraged viewers to tap into other programs, like a second chance checking account for those with ChexSystems, or applying for a secure credit card to rebuild credit scores. The bank’s recent partnership with a black-owned Small Business Administration lender will provide paycheck protection loans to small businesses.
Regarding the education sector, McLeod and Lee expressed dissatisfaction with, or lack of, resources in black communities.
Lee explained how black students in the COVID-19 era are still on a waiting list to receive laptops and tablets for distance education. Another issue she raised was that education around the history of racism in the United States is not as easily accessible as other events in American history. Lee faced a challenge last year when she had to teach students through the pandemic and the racial tensions brought on by black men and women killed by police.
The solution she proposes is to have more educational material available to teachers and students on racial inequity to properly deal with racism. Along with McLeod, Lee suggested that community members use their voting power to elect decision makers who support their most pressing issues, including school board members. Both believe that a history review and holding representatives accountable would be the first step in improving equity in black neighborhoods.
The Rising Black Scholars program, which is scheduled to start in June, intends to tackle inequalities in higher education by offering eligible students free tuition fees of up to 30 credits per year, a book allowance, career-oriented laptops and credentials.
“We’ve been very honest in speaking out about the fairness gaps,” Harrison said. And it was this call that led to our launch.