By Sam Allard, Scene magazine
*The below has been edited for concision and clarity from remarks delivered by the author at Goldhorn Brewery on 9/26, at an event sponsored by the Fund for our Economic Future.
The Two Tomorrows report is unique in the recent Cleveland economic development literature, as far as I know, in one key respect: It has the decency to acknowledge systemic racial exclusion as a defining characteristic of the region’s economic landscape. Racial exclusion has been as dominant a theme as any in Cleveland’s 20th century development, and while ignoring it would be in keeping with other local delusions, doing so is an insult to the communities who have been ravaged by the brutally effective policies designed to disempower and disenfranchise them.
Circumscribed around the report’s suggestions for regional priorities – namely: Job Creation, Job Preparation and Job Access – is an insistence that racial equity be a central component in all development discussions moving forward. That’s critically important, and I wanted to start there.
If you’ve read the report, you might remember that it opens with a quote from James Baldwin, who says: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
One reason I’m here today is to try to determine whether we’re actually facing what we think we’re facing – that is, what’s been suddenly pegged as the region’s dire economic performance – or whether, as many of you have complained, the past few months have merely been an exercise, a chit-chat session of the sort that mushrooms up around here every decade or so.
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