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FPWA expert panel dissects Trump’s urban agenda

5/19/2017, 3:26 p.m.
The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies hosted its latest installment of Personally Speaking entitled “The First 100 Days: Examining the ...

The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies hosted its latest installment of Personally Speaking entitled “The First 100 Days: Examining the Impact of Trump’s Urban Agenda” Thursday, May 11. Panelists, ranging from academicians to political experts, media analysts and social justice and nonprofit leaders, convened to discuss Trump’s first 100 days and dissect the impact of his urban agenda on low-income communities across New York City.

FPWA’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Jennifer Jones Austin started the evening by highlighting FPWA’s intent to ignite a timely and powerful discussion among leaders and social activists. The panel focused on addressing the most urgent issues, their implications for marginalized communities and how people can take action and engage others moving forward.

An insightful discourse, moderated by Borough of Manhattan Community College Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Shirley Leyro ensued, featuring Executive Director of New York Immigration Coalition Steven Choi, Senior Vice President of Social Justice at The New School Maya Wiley, Director of Progressive Programming, SiriusXM Zerlina Maxwell and national political strategist L. Joy Williams.

Maxwell, who is also part of the DNC Transition Advisory Committee, reflected on the Trump presidency by posing a bold question: “What does it mean for us as citizens when our leader brazenly lies to us over and over again?” Sentiments in the room echoed the concern and how revealing it is that the Trump administration boasts about executive orders and the 28 laws signed in the first 100 days rather than communicating the impact of those laws on the most vulnerable.

Choi pointed to the destructiveness of the Trump agenda, its stand on immigration and its attack on immigrants, especially as an engine that moves New York City’s economy. “People [immigrants] don’t want to go out anymore,” noted Choi. “They don’t feel secure about their future, their communities. They don’t want to invest in their own futures because they kind of feel like that future may not be in the United States.”

Wiley described the ideology of the Trump administration as “intentional ignorance in service of the elite.” “Fundamentally what we are seeing is a cabinet that has been installed in the major institutions of the federal government in order to dismantle those institutions,” said Wiley. “In particular, dismantle their use of research-based informative inquiry in order to make policy decisions and programmatic decisions.”

Williams spoke at great length about what she deemed organized chaos. “You have some people who are ready to go and ready to act, but you have even more people who are immobilized and don’t know what to do,” said Williams. “The perception of chaos contributes just like the perception contributed to the election overall.”

Maxwell weighed the changing dynamics and stressed the need to keep up the momentum of an increase in the participation of political discourse across America. “Voter education, making sure people understand it isn’t just about Congress, it isn’t just about the White House, but that we need to stay engaged as opposed to getting engaged just to get out the vote at the end,”

FPWA’s speaker series event provided a platform for audience members and panelists alike to share their perspectives on the first 100 days, reflecting on the current trend of governing at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised.

For more information, log on to www.fpwa.org.