To the editor:
Over the past several weeks, we — an African American and a Muslim American who grew up in Troy—have stood outside the Miami County Courthouse carrying signs reading, “Black Lives Matter”, and calling for justice for the victims of police brutality across the country.
We received mixed support. A few stopped to thank us for raising awareness. Almost daily, someone would yell out, “White Power!” Exposing the insidious underbelly of “All Lives Matter,” one person shouted, “All lives matter! Not just n——-s!”
The vast majority of passersby were apathetic. Some were confused as to why Troy needed to be told that black lives matter. “We don’t have that problem here,” one person remarked. Sadly, however, we do.
According to the official roster, 13% of people incarcerated in Miami County are black. This figure clearly shows that law enforcement and the criminal justice system disproportionately affect African Americans in the county, who make up just 2% of the population according to census data.
There is a significant racial achievement gap in Troy’s elementary schools. Caucasians consistently perform better in math and reading than every other minority group, with African American and mixed race students performing the worst. We can personally attest to the fact that African American students are extremely underrepresented, if nonexistent, in Troy’s Honors and AP classes, and are rarely identified as “gifted” through no fault of their own.
Troy has incredibly segregated neighborhoods. The greatest proportion of African Americans live in the area west of the town square known as “Slab Town” and “Hollywood”. They were confined to this land by segregation and redlining during the early 20th Century. It was also the last area to be cleaned up after the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, destroying the lives of many African American families in the city.
Ten years ago, neo-Nazis marched into Troy to heckle the Martin Luther King parade, and the majority of our community was silent. Last year, supporters of the Confederate flag gathered to celebrate a symbol of slavery and white supremacy, and the majority of our community was silent.
This Sunday, August 7, from 2-4pm, we are hosting an event called “Miami County for Racial Justice” in Troy’s Prouty Plaza. We invite people of all races to join us in standing up to the oppressive systems that people of color and specifically African Americans face in our community and across the country.
Yusef Al-Jarani and Bailey Williams,