Black History Month just ended. It’s a month to highlight the progress and accomplishments of Black men and women in America and the world. America is currently in bad shape because of the Republican Party and their submission to a corrupt President and a Democratic Party that, seemingly, was not prepared to deal with the President we got. Black Americans will seriously lose ground with the policies this President is acting on, with his plan to do away with Obamacare and Social Security, reduce food stamps, gut HUD/housing services and cap Medicaid spending, among others.
In Pasadena, the election of a new Mayor is a four-person race, including the incumbent; with only two African Americans. What is surprising to me is none of these African American candidates have served as City Council members. The one Mexican American candidate has served on the council for a number of years. At press time, the results were not in. I note that Pasadena is fast reaching a majority Mexican American population. Black people have lost ground because of the lack in hiring African Americans, lack of promotions and Black people being the “last hired and the first fired”. There is also a lack of affordable housing, causing many Black people to move out of the city.
Further loss of ground in Pasadena is in education. Schools are being closed, forcing those children left in public schools to cram together in the schools that are left. Families who can afford to put their children in one of the many charter or private schools in the area are also withdrawing their children from public schools. The children who are left suffer because of overcrowding and lack of learning from overworked teachers.
In the City of Pasadena, we continue to lose ground in employment. The city has removed the fi re chief, Bertral Washington, a Black man, from the Pasadena Fire Department, and the public does not know why. Members of the community attended a City Council meeting, seeking transparency, however, no explanation was given. We all ask, “Why?” The fact is, the public has heard no complaints about the Fire Chief, yet the City Manager, Steve Mermell, removed him from the Fire Department. The African American community is proud of this young man. He is a part of the progress we have made, moving from the arrival of Africans onto these American shores, to the election of President Barack Obama. The Pasadena Branch NAACP has called for an investigation into the removal of Chief Washington for possible violation of Washington’s due process. (See their article in the February 27, 2020 issue of The Pasadena Journal, page 8). Pasadena does not have a Black City Manager, or even an assistant city manager of African American affairs. The word on the street is, “Get rid of all Black men at the management level in the City of Pasadena.” Is Chief Washington being pushed out to make room for a Chief of another race? Perhaps we should be looking at replacing the City Manager.
With Trump trying to undo all the progress of the Obama years, and white supremacists joining him in his mission to push us back; and, seeing the continuing and current developments in Pasadena and other cities across the country to cut us off at the pass, I say, “We won’t go back”.
It was good to see the NAACP and other concerned groups at the Pasadena City Council meeting on February 10th, saying, “No!” to reassigning the Fire Chief outside the Fire Department without just cause or explanation. Losing ground must come with an explanation. None of that appears to be present here.
[The Pasadena, Altadena Black Attorneys has called a meeting regarding the removal of Chief Bertral Washington from the Fire Department and the city’s lack of transparency to the public. For more information, please call: Attorney Joe Hopkins, 626-398-1194]