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Black Community Opinions

Local Voices – Norfolk-Hampton Roads: Achieving Full Potential For All Citizens

Recently, it has been discussed by some of our “leaders” what it would take for Norfolk-Hampton Roads to be able to compete with such regional economic entities as Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville, Memphis, Charleston, Jacksonville, and the like.

Since Norfolk is considered by most to be the “economic centerpiece and social engine” of our Hampton Roads/Metropolitan Area, I shall focus my comments and observations, specifically, on its ability and capacity to turn things around and become the “leader” that it needs to be in these matters.

To put it bluntly and concisely, we need “leaders and followers” who not only talk the talk … but walk the walk. We need to create an atmosphere and environment where most of us can achieve and be successful via hard work and equitable opportunity.

Together, we can do this. Admittedly, it will not be easy. Then, it never is easy when it comes to achieving successes like these. All we need to do is put our hearts, minds and backs into it. Working together, “we” can make this happen.

For beginners, there could be “discussion” and “action” about:
• Continued loss of creative and productive citizens via voluntary/involuntary relocation.
• Lack of economic diversification and growth.
• Insufficient corporate infrastructure.
• Inadequate regional cooperation.
• Inadequate public transportation.
• Inadequate roadway, interstate and tunnel construction.
• Public education – teachers’ pay/competency, parental involvement, students’ achievement/test scores/graduation gaps, etc.
• Public housing – affordable housing, especially for the “working poor,” low/no-income populations, etc.
• Inadequate elder/senior care services for providing quality-of-life necessities and amenities.
• Homeless problems and solutions for dealing with them.
• Attracting “better-paying” jobs and careers to the Norfolk-Hampton Roads community.
• “Segregation” of inner-city communities/populations by housing, education, employment, income levels, etc.
• Escalating real estate and other taxes, especially for “fixed” and “low-income” residents, etc.
• Disproportionate criminal involvement for minority juveniles and adults, especially for African-American males.
• Inadequate “at-large” elections for the mayor’s office, school board, planning commission, housing authority, etc.
• Inadequate “minority-rule” on city councils, school boards, planning commissions, housing authorities, etc.
• Inadequate programs for reinserting the so-called “missing fathers,” back into the families, especially for African-Americans and other at-risk populations, etc.
• Inadequate jobs and skills programs to improve/uplift those most at-risk and/or disadvantaged, as well as the “working poor,” etc.
• Inadequate programs, networks and relations between those who “wield and yield the power” and the “community at large,” especially among the business-corporate-captains of industry and the general population.
• Inadequate social services and mental health services for those who truly need these, vice dealing with them via the criminal/judicial systems, etc.
• Inadequate means and resources to improve areas of race relations, poverty, voter participation, etc.
•Inadequate parenting programs for those who need it the most, which would go far towards alleviating/resolving many of our “socioeconomic, educational, political and criminal” problems, etc.

There does not seem to be a willingness to “talk about/deal with” these kinds of issues in the local community and surrounding regions. I believe this is in part due to “not blaming the victims; political correctness; don’t rock the boat; don’t worry, be happy; everything will work itself out; that’s not my problem; and/or not in my backyard/neighborhood” mentality, etc.”

These are serious problems of monumental significance that affect us all. And, we need to do something about it. It is “reality-check” time, for the “cancer” is becoming worse with each passing day. In order for things to get better, we need to initiate the “conversations” and promote the “actions” that will be required to ameliorate all this. What do you think?

John L. Horton resides in Norfolk and is a frequent contributor to this newspaper.

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