Know Better, Do Better
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
(February 13, 2021) Let’s celebrate Black excellence and Black history, and not just each February.
Confronting systemic racism, championing equity, and practicing anti-racism needs to be a daily effort. As Maya Angelou so wisely stated: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
This past June at the “Facing Racism” event in Fayetteville’s Beard Park (photo below), we were fortunate to hear from CNY Fair Housing’s Sally Santangelo. Sally pulled no punches when sharing that all of the towns surrounding the city of Syracuse, including Manlius, participated in exclusionary housing practices like redlining: “The Town of Manlius is not 3 percent Black by accident.” Sally asked us to think about how and why we’re allowing inequality in housing to persist today.
Are we welcoming affordable housing in Minoa, Fayetteville, and Manlius? Have you ever questioned if “schools have space for more students” when presented with a new apartment proposal, not realizing you were reinforcing a problematic barrier? I know I have.
Do we protect tenants, including elderly neighbors and those with disabilities who use government programs to help pay for quality housing in places near family, schools, and reliable transportation?
Not yet. CNY Fair Housing’s 2014 report laid out how limiting the types of income that tenants can use for rent payments (like vouchers) hurts our neighbors. Thankfully, New York State Assemblymember Pamela Hunter is championing tenant protections and affordable housing legislation in Albany. The City of Syracuse is taking action, but Onondaga County has not led or made real progress on this issue.
Through zoning and comprehensive planning, I will work on this issue as a Manlius Town Councilor, and I will be able to continue this fight as an Onondaga County Legislator.
One thing is for certain - this is a burning national issue. I understood this after watching the short video based on the popular book ‘The Color of Law’ about unconstitutional segregation created through legal policies: https://vimeo.com/328684375. So, now that we all know better, let’s do better.