Let's not kid ourselves.
Let's just face the facts.
Let's decide to be honest with one another.
Lots of people (read "millions" just here) in this nation harbor extremely negative feelings when it comes to "the poor" among us.
Over the past week I've been in several situations where I was reminded of this hard fact of life in America, and particularly here in Dallas.
Reaction to an idea we suggested about another secure, safe and quality housing development for some of the poorest of our fellow citizens hit the news largely due to community opposition to the proposed location. We have not been awarded the development site by the city, but just the thought of having low-income persons, even U. S. Veterans nearby was too much for most people who expressed an opinion.
Participants in a meeting of high level decision makers in Dallas that I attended talked all around the ever-present issues of racism and bias toward the poor. The purpose was to discuss how to energize the Southern Sector of Dallas via new housing development and economic opportunities.
The conversation ranged widely and included analysis of market forces, the profit potential of this neglected section of the city, what public partners could do to incentivize development and a number of other issues.
What no one seemed to want to admit is really very simple and terribly depressing. Namely, the fact that our city regards real progress in the lowest income neighborhoods of Dallas as a very low priority. How do I know this is true? Follow the money! Watch the city's funding priorities and policy decisions. Take a look at where the development occurs in this community.
An attempt to dismiss Ann Lott, the President and CEO of the Dallas Housing Authority, was turned back thanks to last minute community organizing that resulted in a groundswell of support for her contract renewal. The support came from the low-income community here in Dallas.
Her failure? She refused to go along with steps that would have hurt the very poor here in Dallas. And, the battle to save the position for this truly exemplary leader is not over.
Many people who enjoy financial security don't understand the poor.
They often fear the poor.
They espouse policies that continue to segregate the poor and that concentrate poverty in far away corners of our city. You know, out of sight, out of mind. Never mind the extremely negative impact of such public policy and "urban planning/engineering" on children, families, economic progress and human hope.
Bias against the poor that often turns to hatred is just beneath the surface of the most "churched up" city in the United States.
It is far past time to face this ugly fact.
Maybe if we get honest, we can summon the moral strength and the necessary courage to speak the truth so that we can begin to do better by the weakest among us.