In my life time I have had the opportunity to make mistakes. Some that turned out bad, some not so bad, and then some more that when they came back, were totally over my head, therefore losing the ability to teach me a lesson. Some of the most valued lessons that I have learned over the years and that have helped to prune me and shape me into the person I am today are those lessons learned through someone in my life or sphere that was not fearful to play the Devil’s advocate role. Someone who, when I said “It is green” simply because I wanted it to be green, said “No Evelyn! That is blue.! And you need to step back, maybe check your glasses or your perceptions, everyone around you that cares sees blue. Why Evelyn, can’t you see it for what it really is?” More of us need these types of people in our lives.
How we hate for someone else to tell us that we lack something! Whether it’s real or perceived, the tendency is to feel “What gives you the right?” Well, in a world where we are forced to coexist, the answer for me makes good sense. If your actions affect or impact my ability to experience liberty, justice, democracy, or the pursuit of happiness, I am inclined to believe that I deserve a voice, and that not only I, but you also have that right. What I find most challenging on a local and global level is the tendency for people to try to achieve a good outcome by an evil act. Ok,, evil- it’s broad , but it’s relevant. In politics, especially in these times when everyone is campaigning for political positions, you see the ads where a presumed “good person” is telling you something that is supposed to be for your benefit to know and then later, you find out it was a lie. A lot of times, that person is forced to come back and make a public apology for using lies to try to win an election, or they just hunch their shoulders back and hold their shaky ground. It’s all very disturbing since in almost every case that I have knowledge of, the truth is enough to cast doubt in the voters mind all by its lonesome.
As a teenager and young woman I used to dislike police with a passion. Not because I seen them do anything like what I see and hear today, but simply because I did not respect a person that had the right and power to lie straight in your face but acted very judgmental if you did the same. I witnessed many officers lie and then turn around and cuff you for doing the same. Later when I started reading some of the Bible and found out that lies were a sin, I was really confused as to why a Christian would choose to be a policeman when their profession consisted of them having to lie to secure information or just because they knew they could.
Today I am still baffled by people who choose to lie on others for personal gain, whether financial or mental, and I am still very suspect of them. I am who I am because God, my Dad and mother, along with personal experiences, made me this way. I say this because for the past few years I have used my voice in my community, City Hall, the State Legislative offices, and any arena that I chose to advocate in. I respect that we live in a democracy and don’t mind people who disagree with me on any matter. I certainly would like if we could always be agreeable but that isn’t realistic. I don’t allow people to control my thoughts or decisions, but I have allowed many people the opportunity to change my mind. If you couldn’t change it then prayerfully we live to see another day and situation where we can agree. As a voice, I have had to publically disagree with people. As far as I know, there is no law against this.
Not long ago I went to City Hall and spoke to one of the Mayor’s people. I will not mention a name because I was told this off the record. My question was “Why does it appear that the Mayor and his office are encouraging poor leadership in my community?” He assured me this wasn’t the case, but that it would take community folk to make change in their own neighborhood. I agreed. That is obvious. My concern was a person who had complete control over all decisions made on behalf of our community from their home and phone. I then said “I am tired of hearing people suggest a coup to me.” I respect my leaders, but this situation is unique. Somehow we have to change the climate of politics in North Hartford. I said “I hate politics. I am just a concerned resident that has spoken to many concerned residents who have tired of caring because of tactics that misrepresent them.” He looked up from his desk and smiled at me. More like a smirk and said. “Evelyn, whether you believe it or not you are involved in the politics of the community.” Amazingly, I was surprised to hear that. I never viewed myself in that light. When does a concerned citizen move from being just that to being caught up in politics? It’s not what I signed on for and I started to understand why so many North Hartford residents either don’t get involved or give up on the process.
What I am most amazed by is that most of our leaders and politicians are Christians or at least profess to be, but when I found out that a Christian community leader and her new friend who is a politically positioned community stakeholder told two lies on me that could have crippled my reputation and character in my community and the City of Hartford I knew that the gentleman in the Mayor’s office was right. Somehow I am a part of the politics in Hartford and I actually felt like I was running for Mayor or President or something. I couldn’t understand why this long time Christian woman would tell outright lies on me to get rid of me. I felt that she could have honestly expressed her concerns and trusted God in the process. Certainly I could care less about her being our leader. But I was hoping that she would certainly be that - a leader who leads someone, anyone. And that she would perform the duties of her position with fairness, democracy and ethics. I have heard the stories of how much of a powerful leader she was years ago and how she held it down solo for years but I always pose the inquiry, “Are today’s community members supposed to treat her like a black governor or something, or are we to expect that if she has put in her work that she should be encouraged to pass the torch to someone who can actually fulfill the role outside of their home and allow the real community to be involved in that process?” So, when I found out what was said I call this person and immediately on the phone she starts stuttering around another lie? I must say I was humbled because I was in shock. Her response showed she had in fact told the lie. My tone, which is usually steady and some say, a bit straightforward was low and almost apologetic due to my concern of why would this senior citizen and Christian woman resort to those types of measures to silence me. It’s hurtful to witness someone who is supposed to lead you lose your trust in their ethics.
On a few occasions on ONE MATTER I disagreed with and voted on an opposing side of this leader. Although I disagreed I had never lost respect for this person or told lies on her or any others in my community I may have disagreed with. Certainly at the end of the day I thought this was a democracy. My heart goes out to all the many residents, youth, elderly, and others who I have personally spoken to in order to get them to vote who don’t because of actions like this from our leaders. “Why vote for the lesser of two evils?” my son and a community activist said to me. My response is “We are all capable of making mistakes and it does not make us evil. But always remember that “Evil prevails when good people keep silent." I will not keep silent!” You may come at me with lies and slander but I will always come with the truth in the name of the Lord. I am still prayerful that the Clay Arsenal NRZ has a change of guard. That the NRZ business comes out of Mrs. Powell’s house and that all matters related to the NRZ be handled and discussed in the meetings. I am prayerful that the community people who have left the NRZ will come back and hold leadership accountable to bylaws and a board, as well as allow community people to be identified as voting members. I am hopeful that someday the members and stake holders make all decisions in the meetings and that if they have not been discussed in that public forum that the chairperson cannot speak to it outside of that until she has shared it publicly. One thing is said in meetings and another done in private at present. None of the above is in place now. And I pray that someday people understand and grab hold to being able to disagree and not be condemned and ostracized for it.
Many African American leaders always say to me that we don’t get anything done in our communities because we can’t agree on anything. And I say, “That’s crap!” We don’t get anything done as a community because we don’t practice liberty amongst each other. We don’t follow consensus or majority voting with respect to differences. I have been to many meetings where people of other ethnicities literally acted up when advocating their stance. But at the end of the day clearly defined parameters on how to come to a conclusion prevailed, but in our community when you disagree, everything goes behind closed doors and they try to silence you with lies.