While all of these African-American, or Black (if you will), persons were named in this article as those who made attempts to attain the seat of Mayor of Pittsburgh, along with Jake Wheatley who ran in this year's Primary election with Bill Peduto and Jack Wagner, there was also A.J. Richardson, another African-American male. Not only was the fact that he is an African-American male counted against him in a city like Pittsburgh, but the other factors were that he was not tainted by the political sphere, making him a candidate who could actually hear and take the to heart the voices and injustices expressed by people of various communities. People tended to view the outer appearance - Mr. Richardson's facial tattoos- rather than to hear the sensibility that expired from him. I would say, as an African-American, that I would like to see individuals like A.J. Richardson and others who do not fear expressing their views and who would run for high public offices to affect changes in the City of Pittsburgh, especially within the African-American communities and other multicultural communities, to continue to strive for these positions. Unfortunately the reality is that they are vying against a racist system and an apathetic Black community.
Whether or not you have seen and/or heard of AJ is irrelevant. The fact the he "came out of nowhere" is irrelevant. What is important, and what should be looked at, is when he did"come from out of nowhere", what, in fact, did he do! Unlike majority of people who sit in the background and make their comments about what needs to be done in their communities, AJ came out front and stated what needs to be done. People who live in their communities know what needs to be done to better their lives there. Where in Sheraden do you live that Teresa Smith has been responsive to? Is Sheraden flourishing with businesses and is there a supermarket there, or do you, like the rest of us, have to travel to McKees Rocks or Crafton-Ingram to purchase food? How about the schools? If she is so responsive to needs and concerns, why did two schools schools close down, forcing children to now walk long distances to school (Langley) without the availability of transporation? My sons go to school with children from Crafton Heights who have to wake up at 5am to make it to school (Langley) on time! This is outrageous! Meeting with people and responding to the needs and concerns of people are two very different things! Theresa Smith has had eight years to do this. How has Sheraden, as well as the other communites in District 2 changed in eight years? Well, from the looks of it, it has not! Violence and unrest still occur in communities like Crafton Heights, the West End, Windgap, Elliott (where an 16 year old child was killed last month). So tell me, one who has lived in these communities during the term of Teresa Smith, what has changed? The road bumps at Crafton Heights were fixed, not due to the work of Teresa Smith, but to the work and advocacy of AJ Richardson! Ask the youth in Crafton Height how he used to take his own money and provide free lunches for them all summer! It is the "unsung heroes" that do not receive the recognition that they deserve, while those who do nothing just sit back, make their comments, and take up space in their offices and in the world at large!
While A.J. Richardson was charged with a DUI does not equate reasoning for not being taken seriously. He admitted to his mistake, which most of these candidates and most people in high profile positions, would not do. Many people who do work in the community are unsung heroes; you would never hear of their acculades. I do believe one should not be taken seriously because of mistakes or visible tattoos -- most of everyone I see in the city of Pittsburgh has tattoos! And most people in this city have had some sort of vehicle violation against them! I have attended these debates to hear Peduto, Wagner and Wheatley give the same answers to a question, while also taking around a question, never giving an answer (Wagner). Peduto loves to speak about his accomplishments in East Liberty, but understand what he really did was implement gentrefication (the removal of poor Black people, to be replaced by affluent White people). Wagner talks about diversifying the police force, however would not sign to allow the hate crimes bill to include the gay community. A.J. Richardson, from the beginning, has stated that he represents all people, and by looking at him (yes, visibly), one can determine that he can connect with all people on some level. I would want to elect someone who is touched by my concerns and issues, and not by someone who has gone through the political machine so much that now he has been assimilated by the Matrix or The Borg! I would not be interested in electing an individual who continues to perpectuate the status quo! If people want change, sometimes it takes committing to a risk to effect change. And as for a "Black Agenda", really, what is that? I happen to be a Black female; while I understand that Black people are the majority populating these economically challenged and disadvantaged, crime infested communities in the city of Pittsburgh, our challenges do touch other communities. Mr. Richardson wanted to submit a proposal to be read at the Black Conference due to not being able to attend due to a prior committment made before deciding to run for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, but was told by Mr. Udin that he could not. Again, if we want to talk about Black Agenda, we have to include that voices have to have the chance to be heard! Again, just like "Black voices", a Black voice was stifled. A.J. Richardson endeavors to be a voice for all people, allowing their issues and concerns to be brought to light; for a community to speak up and not let politics impact on their lives, but hold politicians and those that they elect to represent them to be held accountable to their responsibilities to the constituents of these communities. Also, look at these t.v. commercials. With all of the publicity from the media, we would decide to spend hundreds of dollars in commercials that take cheap shots! How about taking that same money and investing it into a youth center in Homewood to keep kids off the street or parenting mentoring programs. Instead of dancing around the questions for viable solutions, especially in the Black community, why not do something about it in the respective positions already occupied; and these other three candidates certainly have the financial backing to do that. Take a closer look; perhaps the others should not be taken so seriously.
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