As I ride down memory lane of what used to be the Black community prior to the May 1980 rebellion, more commonly known as “The McDuffie Riots,” the more I can remember a healthy and rich community with family values. The area was once held by strong threads and the biblical tie: “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
What I’ve also come to understand is that sometimes when Miami-Dade County screws up, the Black community suffers. It is neither by chance nor by accidental circumstances that this continues to happen. It is a continual and systemic pattern of practice perpetrated by those in key positions of administration. Time and again, county government redirects federal dollars that are or were slated for the Black community.
It is not by coincidence that when a new group of immigrants arrive to the shores of America they often climb the ladder to success on the backs of Blacks. When the Cuban people came to Miami in the late 1950s they were the minority, along with Blacks. In 1956, state voters amended the Constitution to allow for a Home Rule Charter. Dade County was granted the power to create single-member commission districts. It was during and after the Mariel Boat Lift that the minority quickly arose to majority status.
The make-up of the Miami Commission consists of four Hispanics, one Anglo and one Black. The Miami-Dade County Commission makeup is seven Hispanics, two Anglos and four Blacks. The minority has become a majority and has taken from the minority who has always been a minority.
I’m going to go further and prove my point. After the May 1980 riot, the Black community anticipated it was going to get millions of dollars to rebuild the inner city but not all of that money came. In 1984, Congressman William Lehman, state Rep. Dante Fascell and state Sen. Claude Pepper asked for an accounting of $116 million of federal disaster aid after the riots. In 1995, a report by the General Accounting Office showed that $70.6 million was delivered – about 60% of what was promised. And, of that amount, $43.2 million went to riot-torn areas. Another $17.5 million went unaccounted and the examiner said that, “residents in riot areas probably benefited from those funds.” Take a look around from Overtown to Liberty City to Brownsville and tell me how the Black community benefitted from those funds.
Some $16.9 million was loaned to damaged businesses. About $8 million of that money went to business owners who set up shop elsewhere. Another $1.9 million went to a job training center in a predominantly Cuban-American neighborhood and a $500,000 grant went to refugees – not riot victims.
The Black community intentionally separates ourselves based on island or country: Nigerians, Bahamians, Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians but the county doesn't do such.
The county lumps all of us as a whole, as African-Americans. Case in point. According to 2015 census data, Miami-Dade population was 2,693,117; Black people make up 18 percent of the number. So, the point of it all is, while the Black community is scratching each other up and fighting for the crumbs that fall from the pie on the table to the floor, the pie in all actually is ours and belongs in our community.
The Metro-Miami Action Plan to nowhere actually does lead to somewhere – everywhere except the Black community.