Op-Ed: Peace to our communities
President & Ceo | , Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce | , Lloyd Williams | 5/16/2013, 4:33 p.m.
I am tired of the violence. What about you?
It's time for everyone to stand up, speak out and act to stop the insanity now. Whether it be in Newark, Chicago or Aurora, Colo.--let's start at home in our region.
The extraordinary outbreak of violence over the past year, particularly gun violence, will only stop when all of those who are directly and, more importantly, indirectly affected take a stance. Although we may not immediately see the connecting linkages, that which impacts our neighbors today will impact us directly tomorrow.
How can we sit by as shootings, stabbings, beatings and other forms of mayhem continue to take place and in fact expand in our churches, our schools, movie theaters, at sporting events, at family picnics and in our own homes?
What has happened to us that we allow this to occur? It is because we fail to connect the dots? Is it because we believe that this violence is only happening to those who deserve it? To "other people"? Poor people? The uneducated? Immigrants? Is that why we remain silent as we put more locks on our doors and more alarms and surveillance around our houses?
It's time to act now.
Each year, the Health Committee of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce selects a specific health issue that has historically disproportionately had an impact on urban areas--locally, nationally and internationally--to be the focus of that year's New York Family Health Walk. The Health Walk takes place on the last Saturday in August.
Areas of family health concern over the past years have included obesity, diabetes and respiratory illness. This year, the Chamber's Health Committee has chosen to focus on violence in our communities as our 2012 major health crisis. The theme was selected at the February National Urban Health Conference.
Having looked carefully at the issue of violence and its related health, mental, emotional and financial toll and impact throughout the region and beyond, the Health Committee of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce has determined to aggressively launch a one-year anti-violence campaign.
We have determined to do a few things over the next few months focused on combating violence in our communities, creating programs for children, senior citizens and in our schools with our media partners in print, radio and TV. Our major citywide anti-violence effort for this year will be "A Walk for Peace in Our Communities," which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 25 in partnership with New York Road Runners.
The Peace Walk will have representatives from churches, unions, civic and fraternal organizations, sororities, educational institutions and civil rights organizations from the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan as well as Newark, N.J., and Mt. Vernon, N.Y. They will come together in a regional effort to combat gun violence, bullying, domestic violence and homophobia.
In so doing, we will identify community-based organizations committed to combating violence that should be supported and promoted year-round.
We are pleased that our community-based partner is Harlem Men Against Guns and our print media partner is the NY Amsterdam News, in addition to our other print partners, which include the New York Daily News, NY Christian Times, El Diario, NY Carib News, Positive Community magazine, Harlem News Group and the New York Beacon. Our radio partners are HOT 97, WBLS.FM, WNYC AM/FM, WWRL.AM, WADO.AM, WLIB.AM and WHCR.AM; and out TV partners are FOX 5, NY1 and many others to come. They are joining with us in this effort to galvanize, organize and encourage New Yorkers and beyond to stand up, speak up and now step out to bring peace to our communities.
With the overwhelming and dramatic outbreak of violence--the killing of innocent children, senior citizens, bullying, homophobia, mental illness, etc.--it is imperative that people from all communities, urban and rural, of all ages, races, colors, ethnic groups and backgrounds step up and bring a reduction or end to this madness.