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Facing the root of our racism

On Urban Journal's "Yet Another Report Says Our Poverty Rate Persists": I agree, but this column doesn't go far enough in laying the blame at the feet of the "we" – the white middle and upper classes for whom systemic racism was designed. This "we" does not want to lose the benefits "we" have gained from white privilege.

It seems that by using the term "we," Mary Anna Towler assumes that her readers are all white and middle or upper class, that no poor person of color reads City Newspaper. She dismisses black and Latino/a people in poverty who are activists as well as others who organize people to address the discriminatory practices and root causes of poverty.

Otherwise, why say: "We're perfectly willing to address poverty, to help the poor, in ways that make us feel good, as long as poverty stays in its place." And: "But we're not about to let poverty come out where we are. We're as content to leave poverty in its place as we were when we put it there."

And: "None of those studies have caused us to change. And so we have another ACT Rochester report, showing that we're losing the battle against poverty. And there's no sign that's going to change. Because we'd prefer that it didn't."

If she is speaking directly to privileged white people, then say so. That would be more effective than lumping poor people of color into the "we," which is offensive and inaccurate. Why not just name it: call out white people who continue to benefit from racist practices as the audience for the article, which makes it more challenging and might cause people to really take a look at their own complicity in the high rates of poverty for people of color?

It's time to start naming systemic racism for what it is, and how white people continue to be directly involved in is continuation. It is not enough to use veiled vague statements laying the blame with "we." 


Bus routes and riders' needs

The proposed RTS Reimagine initiative completely ignores the large block of call centers in Henrietta and the business parks south of Fairport, where many of the new jobs are offered. The tail wags the dog.

Few people use the Henrietta bus, because the 83 route runs only twice a day out to the call center area, so no one bothers to apply for jobs, and RTS terminates the service because of "lack of ridership." Buses are doubled to routes that already exist. The only ones with a good paying job are the consultants to RTS.


Housing the poor

On new downtown development and the need for low-income housing: Here we go again! As soon as a development proposal is made, out come the bleeding hearts questioning how this is going to help the homeless and the poor.

Is this supposed to make people ashamed that they aren't doing enough to help the less fortunate? What it does is turn people off who are willing to come into the city. It's really too bad that housing has "been designed for middle- and upper-income people." Money attracts businesses, business creates jobs, the tax base increases....

How is that supposed to happen with low-income housing and facilities for the homeless? It won't. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

An example of how the city chooses to take care of the poor versus people who would like to live in the city (and increase money inflow, etc.) is the low-income (and hideous) housing in the Mt. Hope area along the river.

This is without a doubt the most prime land in the city. That area could have seen the development of townhouses and condominiums well into the six-figure range. But no. We had to take care of the poor, because they would be displaced. There are loads of locations in the city where low-income housing could have been built and welcomed and probably at a lower cost.

Funny that the Cadillac Hotel is also a controversial project. I've lived in Rochester for 75 years, and for decades that place has been the subject of jokes. Now someone has bought it and will put millions of dollars into it for renovations, and you write that "it's reasonable to assume they won't include low-income housing." What a shame! If they were good citizens, they would rent out $1500-a-month apartments for $5 a night.

For years, city officials have been trying to attract businesses and people away from the suburbs, and now that it is happening they are being lambasted for doing so. It takes a lot to get people back to the city but not much to drive them out. Articles like this don't help. Cut it out!


Editor's note: A bit of fact-checking is needed here. The Mt. Hope Avenue apartments to which Davies refers consists of two housing complexes, both of which have drawn both criticism and praise for their colorful, contemporary design. Developed by Conifer Realty, they replaced a subsidized housing complex named Genesee Gateway.

The renovated apartment tower, the Hamilton, continues to be for low-income tenants. The new, low-rise units contain some low-income units, but most are market rate, with rental rates ranging from $1100 for a one-bedroom apartment to more than $2200 a month for a three-bedroom unit.

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