Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Getting started...

I've been thinking long and hard about this venture, both as a means to process my own ponderings as well as to add perspective to a community desperately in need of ... well, perspective. Of course, perspective is subjective - opinion really, isn't it? I've never been one to hesitate offering my opinion...

As a 43-year-old part-time professional raising a son and daughter in Genesee County, I have loads of perspective. I work for the leading academic institution in the community. This after some 10 years as city employee, appointed by a former Mayor, who happened to be a different color than me or my children or my husband. His color and mine is only significant to an embarrassing number of people in our community. I realized a long time ago that despite what my white friends and family told me, Flint - and Genesee County for that matter - has a race problem. White people don't think so. Most black people, on the other hand, know so.

Of course, the same can be said of our nation.

Already, those of you reading this likely have drawn some conclusions about me, gained some perspective, shall we say. I have probably already lost a few of you not willing to hear one more time about race or problems or differing perspectives. Some of you may stay and read on, mildly curious about what this white woman might have to say.

The focus of this effort will be on Genesee County, Michigan, located in southeast lower Michigan, at the intersection of Interstate Highways I-75 and I-69 -- so says the County website. I reside in Flint, the county seat, a city once flush with GM workers, paychecks and residents who took great pride in their homes and neighborhoods. Today, Flint has gone from the second largest to Michigan's fourth-largest city, with a 28 percent drop in total population to 124,943, according to the 2000 Census. The median age is 30.8 and the racial breakdown is 53 percent black, 41 percent white, and 3 percent Hispanic.

Believe me, we got issues!

Race is one thing. Leadership is another! We have lost countless leaders in the past 10 years to communities that offer more. If we don't recall them, we micromanage their professional and personal affairs until they throw up their hands and leave - us to our own devices. We want something, anything to guide us out of the sparkless Flint. In desperation, we believe the lies of wolves and then wonder how we got into the mess - and how in the world we will get out.

I wonder how we are going to get out as well. We need perspective. Maybe not mine, so much, but voices of hope, of well-intentioned, good -hearted people who want to deal honestly and forthrightly with the mess, the issues, the problems, the wildly different perspectives.

Herein lies the matters of Genesee County, of Flint, of our country ... because you matter, our children, our families and our friends matter. Together, we matter most of all.


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