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LOUIS ‘HOP’ KENDRICK

I am often asked the question, “How do you determine what you are going to write about next week?”

The honest answer is, “I generally have no idea.”

A more accurate answer is that those of you, the readers, help me sometimes when I run into you by saying, “You know what? You need to write about…”

This week’s column is a perfect example. A friend of mine for about 60 years, Bobby Holiday, called me on Memorial Day and during our conversation, he said, “Hop, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? They are determined not to share the pie with us.”

Bobby and untold numbers of you have repeated the same concerns on an ongoing basis. My typical response generally is that you have no idea how big the pie is, and the difficulty of obtaining a sizable slice. I was extremely fortunate to be appointed director of the Allegheny County Minority Business Enterprises department and performed well (no bragging, just fact). Upon doing some research on not just past expenditures, but those that were current, it was unbelievable the amount of money spent by the local government. However, the biggest shock was that the Black community had been misled by colored folks that we trusted. These government expenditures were being shared by a number of Blacks. The absolute truth was that only one Black had a major contract and that occurred at the airport. Professional service contracts, then and now, are awarded without a bid (it’s legal). There were companies that have benefited from the award system in excess of 25 years (no Blacks).

In my estimation, Blacks fail to receive a sizable slice for two major reasons. The first reason is that those who cut the pie fail to have an overwhelming concern about how the pie is to be shared. The second, and bigger, reason is that those Black persons who are elected overwhelmingly by Black voters lack the courage, commitment and the compassion to attack this cancer by exposing it for what it is. I have heard colored politicians describe themselves as a Democrat first, a dedicated servant of the party, and those who elected them have to get in line. A perfect example is Governor Tom Wolf. A month ago he convened a press conference, and stated he had been in office for two years and was just made aware of the fact that the state of Pennsylvania failed to have a viable or functioning diversity program. He appointed an individual to create a viable disparity study and a $1 million contract was awarded to a company out of Denver to study the seriousness of the lack of diversity in the state.

The study will take about 18 months, and six months after that, the Governor’s term will be over. How serious can the Governor be about the lack of diversity? What has happened to the state Black caucus? How come they have not informed the Governor that diversity is not working in our state? If you recall, during a meeting to help fund the August Wilson Center, a person was overheard asking, “What do Black folks do for themselves?”

He did not intend to be overheard, but I’m inclined to believe he meant what he said. In my estimation, it was a valid question and once Blacks are provided with a bigger slice of the pie, Blacks can do more for themselves.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)

 

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