“When government and, or those within positions of government act contrary to law and ethical behavior, citizens are duty bound to speak truth to those wrongs and, or social injustices, both as individuals and as a collective community”. Robert Kelly, Former Commissioner of MVPD
After a local community activist’s car was firebombed for being critical of the alleged corruption of the current administration. Many of his detractors said he deserved this cowardly action. What they failed to see was the reality is it was an embarrassment to the essences of what we claim as being a Black community.
Mount Vernon has a rich history of being a black city and governed by Black people. No matter what perception many might have, it’s one of the only city in the county that black people are in total control of its government operations.
Mount Vernon reminds me of the fictional county Wakanda from the movie the Black Panther. For those who don’t know, Wakanda is a fictional African nation appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. It is the most prominent of several native African countries and home to the superhero Black Panther.
What is important about Wakanda is that the county is positioned on the best part of land in Africa, similar to Mount Vernon having the best piece of land in Westchester. What made Wakanda unique was its Vibranium a precious metal that can only be found in the Wakandan country. The Wakandans protected this metal by any means necessary that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of outsiders. I equate this to Mount Vernon of being one of the only cities in Westchester surrounded by major highways; three metro north train stops, a few blocks away from NYC subways. But there is a difference; the leadership has sold off what is considered our vibranium to the highest bidder and they have no interest in the people of Mt. Vernon; we wonder why things haven’t changed for the people of the city of Mount Vernon in 20 years.
Why do we allow our black leadership to continue to sell off our Vibranium? The Mayor made it clear from his acceptance speech that Joe Spiezio was his personal adviser, his 800-pound gorilla that was and is a presence in his administration.
Since Mayor’s swearing-in many articles in Black Westchester Magazine and local blogs have reported, Mr. Spiezio, Roberta James, and the mayor’s brother Steven Butch Thomas raining terror on city employees, some residents have been vocal on the hypocrisy of Thomas’ leadership. Many residents pointed out his replacement of many black high-ranking city officials who are from the Mt. Vernon community with outsiders (majority white) what have been alleged at the behest of a campaign donor, garbage man who he also made Deputy Police Commissioner.
As a city that’s recognized as a Black-governed city in the state of New York, this is an embarrassment to black politics and the credibility of Blacks being able to govern in all aspects of the political process for the benefit of those who elected them in office.
Would Joseph Spiezio, a garbage man with no law enforcement experience walk into a Police Department in Scarsdale, Eastchester, Pelham, Buchanan, Hartsdale and give orders? Absolutely not!
As a legendary professor of African Studies, Dr. Leonard Jeffries said many black elected officials are suffering from the Mobutu Syndrome. When Black politicians are back by campaign money from developers and corporations that do not have Black people’s interest at heart and have caused misery and despair of many black communities, Mt. Vernon is no different.
Our tolerance is our cowardliness! Now that Mayor has been arrested, and there is an ongoing investigation by the New York State Attorney General What is most deplorable is the “deafening silence” of the majority of the Mt. Vernon elitism leadership. They have been completely AWOL on the “public” discussion on what has been seen as an abusive, hostile and retaliatory administration to Black people within its own city.
What many of these so-called leaders fail to realize is when Mayor Thomas’ appointee Deputy Police Commissioner Spiezio called Councilman Andre Wallace homophobic derogatory names and threatened to do physical harm to a Black official elected by the people of Mt. Vernon. Spiezio did not just disrespect Councilman Wallace he disrespected every Black man in the city of Mt. Vernon.
With respect and love to all Black pastors in Mt. Vernon, Wherefore art thou? What stance do you have? What stance have you taken when the very members of your churches have been disrespected, harassed and fired for no reason other than because someone doesn’t like them? What have you said publicly to the disrespectful manner in how mothers of murder victims have been treated by those in authority of the city government? Where was the collective denouncement of the homophobic statements along with the disrespect of a Black men, Black women that most likely pay tithes to our local churches? While all disrespectful actions to Black people in a Black city are directed by a white man sitting on a garbage can. What faith should be in the pastoral leadership when the people of the city see contradictory actions of pastors to cover dirty deeds of a city government? Would Jesus lie to protect Cesar? How can you preach Jesus from your pulpits when you have lied all day at your government appointed job!
What many of these so-called leaders fail to realize if your Deputy Police Commissioner does not respect one black man in this city who is an elected official, he has no respect for any Black man in this city, no matter what title you hold or what your perceived position is. Or is the collective silence bought and sold for future promises?
Many claim the Black Power or Civil Rights era of 30 to 40 years ago but have forgotten their responsibility to the community, justice, and fair dealing today, while basking in titles and positions that on the whole have little importance or power.
In other ethnic communities, differences are put aside when an outsider comes in and causes chaos amongst the village or city. The disrespect of the current Mayor’s administration by allowing outsiders to disrespect people in this city would not happen in an Italian, Asian or Jewish community. They would not tolerate it! But in the Black community, an outsider can feel it is business as usual. There is no secret, there is a cancer, when public actions have tested the manhood of elected officials and leaders. As of now, we are failing.
We have been tolerant for far too long. To be silent because of the belief that we are attacking another black person, following the false beliefs of black gatekeepers of political leadership while a Black city goes to hell on a rocket-ship. One thing should be clear. The current Mayor is not the cause of all the problems; he’s the effect of the problems! He is an effect of several decades of Black exploitation of its own people with no accountability and silence among those that could make a change.
According to Dr. Claud Anderson’s book PowerNomics, one of the elements for a strong Black community is having a Code of Conduct and Group Accountability. A Black Code of Conduct is necessary to keep out the Destructive behavior that is so often evident in our communities. Black communities like Mt. Vernon wealth cannot and will not be built without an enforceable code of conduct. Unfortunately, this is evident in the lack of economic development within the city. Dr. Anderson also stated that this Code of Conduct must effectively discourage Uncle Tomism, Samboism and I will add Negrotivity in our communities. This type of behavior by Black leadership and Black people are extremely detrimental to community building, economic development to communities that Black people are in control of the economic and political process.
I say this out of love for every Black pastor, so- called community leader, elected official and the everyday Black man walking the streets; we all should be embarrassed, upset and want Revolutionary change in how our community is perceived and treated by the economic, business and political communities in the state of New York. But first, we must be like Micheal Jackson and ‘Look at the man in the Mirror and make that Change”.
We should also see the need for Black people to be in control of the political process and governance of their city. We have failed the responsibility of not just to the people of Mt. Vernon but to black people throughout Westchester at the same time. Failed those that wonder why a black city governed by black people cannot and will not stand up on its own two feet and be the Wakanda of black culture, economics, and learning.
This is a challenge to all those who have sat back and watched the attack of those who dare to question the status quo and speak truth to power. Will you stand up like men and women? Or will your Tolerance expose your cowardliness?
The change that’s needed is not from behind a desk or a pulpit it’s in the streets with the people that have suffered from those who have no interest in this city but robbing our Wakanda it of its Vibranium. Our people are waiting.