To the editor:
I just went to a community meeting. I have spent most of my adult life in meetings I don’t go to meetings much anymore. Almost all meetings are boring, repetitive, and tiring Same old, same old.
As I write this, I am clearer about my distaste for meetings that try to address community or social problems Most of these meetings deny reality. Who has the money? Where does the money come from? Who controls the money? Where does the money go?
Oberlin is a plantation. There are the masters with the hangers on and the hired ons. The faces change over time. The plantation remains. The money continues to flow its customary way: good streets, good services, nice new buildings, and lots of meetings. Well-intentioned, generous people are lost and waiting for new ideas and new beginnings. Continuing to do things for people instead of with people is worn out. The plantation remains liberal northern style.
So, some “what ifs” have come to mind.
What if everyone in Oberlin gave one percent of gross income for one year to a local minority-controlled credit union?
What if Oberlin College required students to stay in Oberlin during winter term, walk in the cold and snow, immerse themselves with “disadvantaged people” to first learn, not help, and then jointly issue calls for action?
What if students gave up their calls for a shuttle service and made sure the money went to local people empowerment?
What if the city annually set aside seed money to establish downtown minority businesses? What if white folks stopped talking and started listening?
What if the New Union Center for the Arts gave the poor and dispossessed a room rent free to do whatever they wanted?
What if the churches gave up their fiefdoms and together ministered to the community?
What if there was courage to look honestly at ourselves personally and collectively?
Donald L. Spencer