Kenny Hardin, Salisbury City Councilman
♦ There is so much involved with the murders that occurred over the weekend and the random acts of gun violence that have broken out in the following days since.
I know that people are experiencing a wide range of emotions like anger, fear, and apathy even. I want people to be concerned about their safety, yet not be afraid to live. Be vigilant and cautious, but don’t let this paralyze you to the point where you stop enjoying life.
Also, we have to stop stoking the fears and creating paranoia. I share crime updates to keep people informed and aware, not to keep you scared. I have concerns about the potential for more violence this weekend, but I’m going to go about my normal routine anyway. We don’t need to post every rumor or urban myth that we hear about what is going on. There is no need to keep pouring gasoline on an already burning fire.
I have been critical of our City leadership for 20 years and as recently as yesterday. I told the Mayor, City Manager, and a group of County leaders during a meeting to discuss the reward and other strategies, that City leaders need to stop being so overly sensitive when criticized by residents. I also shared in detail my views of why I feel like the relationship with the Black community is poor and fractured. I’m sure it was hard to hear, but I appreciate those around the table being receptive.
I also said we need to recognize the long history of how the relationship deteriorated and why no trust exists so many years later. When you have a Chief 15 years ago angrily refer to a group of concerned Black citizens as “You People” during a meeting, and another Chief recently say how tired he was of working with the Black community, what do you expect the relationship to be?
I implored those at the table that instead of criticizing and lecturing Black people for having fear, show some empathy, understanding, and work to help alleviate it. Try to understand that this level of violence has gone on for decades with no real concern to address it or offerings of relief. It’s easy to judge, lecture, and talk down to those impacted when it is not part of your daily life, so you fail to see it as important.
Yes, I’m critical, but I’m also at the table discussing strategies and solutions too and not just sitting back complaining. I’m on my phone all day and up past midnight calming fears and trying to build relationships. I’m out in the streets talking one to one with people and attending breakfast/lunch invites to discuss issues and strategies. I’m involved and not just slinging critical bows and arrows while offering nothing constructive.
I think the City and County are genuinely concerned about the continual gun violence in the City in light of the child’s murder. In the meeting, it was brought up how it’s affecting economic development opportunities, growth, and tourism here. If that’s the only motivation for finally waking up and showing concern, I’m ok with that.
I said to the group, my concern is for the people impacted and those who have to live with it daily. What irritates me is those who will not accept overtures, gestures, or strategies offered by the City, and will just complain regardless. I’ve seen a couple of critical comments about the reward offering. Really? Do me a favor and just shut up and get out of the way of those who are trying.
I’ve been equally critical of the Black community and the inaction to stop the gun violence. The onus and primary responsibility has to be on the Black community to solve this problem. If Black lives matter, we need to act like they do to us too and not just demand it from others. We waste so much energy on trying to prove racism exists and complaining about what White folks are either doing to us or not doing for us. But, we’re not doing a damn thing for ourselves. Stop begging and waiting on someone to give you what you can do for yourself. If you’re dependent on someone else for your freedom and progress, you will never get it or be respected.
Black people are upset with me for calling out our own failures, lack of accountability and our unwillingness to accept responsibility. I don’t really care. I will be that Uncle Tom sellout Nigger a few want to label me as if it means motivating our community to do better. I’m not going to be fearful of criticizing something or someone that is wrong because of a shared physical characteristic like skin color. I’m not going to hold back on calling out those who are complicit in destroying our community whether by breaking the law or trying to profit as a do-nothing culture hustler. I’m more concerned about getting one color right before I worry about building a rainbow.
I’m not going to sit back and wait for a rescue team to come into my community to fix the problems. I’m not going to wallow in victimization waiting for someone else’s moral compass to align or their need to clear a conscience. I will not allow someone else to control my destiny and progress.
I will be the same man I’ve been for nearly 30 years and will continue to step up and fight, as well as to demand justice, fairness and equity for all people, and work for progress without fear of any kind. I will work with and alongside anyone who is genuine and wants positive change for our City.
I have no time and will show no patience for those who just want to criticize and complain with no plan, ideas, or involvement.