3:22 AM / Wednesday October 4, 2023

25 Aug 2013

The time for action is now!

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August 25, 2013 Category: Oasis Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: “Justice for Trayvon” rally, Saturday July 20, 2013, outside the Federal Courthouse in Philadelphia.

(AP photo Joseph Kaczmarek)

Open Letter to Philadelphians,

Over the last several weeks I have heard and read a lot of comments and remarks on race and other concerns growing out of the Trayvon Martin case. In my
opinion it was an unjust ruling given to George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin and was unacceptable in the minds of most individuals in the Black

One of the most troubling reactions to the case are the individuals who are trying to compare Trayvon’s death to the everyday death of African Americans
who are killed by other African Americans across the country. Yes, Black on Black violence is a problem that needs to be addressed and we have been and are
addressing “it” in all the cities across America where it’s happening. In these cities, men and women are working full time, day and night, never getting
recognized or credit for thier work in reducing crime and killings, in their communities, White America must realize that institutional racism over the
years helped create this problem.

When Blacks are locked out of job opportunities because of their skin color; unions (whose memberships are primarily White) profit. If you go to any work
site in Philadelphia you see this phenomenon in action… See who is working on construction. Economic opportunities aren’t available for Blacks, which is
demonstrated by the “skin color” of the individuals who can’t get a business loan. Therefore, when Whites create a social environment based on exclusion
and racial discrimination you are going to have social problems.

For years, crime/violence in the Black community has been addressed by the Black community. Many times the drop of violence is the direct result from work
of individuals and groups. Not only the Mayor or his bureaucracy, not only the Police Commissioner, but the “Foot Soldiers” who are committed to a
concerted effort to stop the senseless killings of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children. In the 1970s it was work of the “Foot Solders”
many individuals and groups worked together to limited the gangs deaths and the results of these efforts was the reduction of our youth deaths from 80 or
more per year down to zero! The Black community did that. In the 1980s, the violence related to drug wars at an all time high (Philadelphia had 536 murders
in 1990). And once again it was the “Foot Solders” individuals and community groups toiled and drug death drop. Once again, the Black community acted. This
work was done on the streets! Not on offices or boardrooms! The uniforms were not suits and ties, but jeans, tee-shirts, dashikis and love of life.

I never turn away from the hard truth in our communities and is always prepare to take on the responsibility of finding ways to solving violence in
Philadelphia. So, when I hear the criticism and argument that Black leaders aren’t speaking up against Black killing Black that just not the truth. We are
working everyday and examples of this work is represented in youth programs ( educational and recreational) street intervention work in Black neighborhoods
with the highest shooting and homicide victims, mentoring, grief counseling, etc. The lists can go on and on. A great number of these activities are being
done by individuals /groups without funding.

The organization I head, the Father’s Day Rally Committee, held a national conference last year on the issue of Black on Black Violence, the first of it’s
kind to address the issue of violence and can up with solution to reduce Black killing Blacks. Out of the conference came a national organization with
representatives from 23 cities looking at the best models working in cities. Another example of Blacks taking on responsibility to address our problems.

We are at a point in this great city where we are going to have to learn to live together, because we have run out of all other options to not address the
issue of racism in our city. White Philadelphians can no longer blame Blacks for the problems of our city, just like Blacks can’t blame Whites. We must
address racism and can’t be afraid to discuss it in an open and honest way. If, we don’t, this city will blow up and it won’t be anyone’s fault but our
own. Let’s make a commitment today and start the process towards building a unified city by having discussions in our workplace, place of worship,
neighborhoods, and homes on racism and set a goal of establishing dialogue were we respect each other’s differences and the diverse cultures of our


Bilal Qayyum


Father’s Day Rally Committee, Inc.

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