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Op-Ed: Perpetual Structural Marginalization in Liberty City

By Jonathan Spikes

Affirming Youth Foundation presented an empowering Black history program, Dr. Marvin Dunn examined the sociopolitical-historical backdrop in which Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood was founded.

Following Dr. Dunn’s presentation, Dr. Dionne Stephens discussed the current state of social determinants of health in Liberty City communities and their direct correlations to the historical trends of racism and marginalization of Black communities.

Due to regentrification, the Liberty City rental market has risen dramatically to $1,200 per month, despite the fact that the median household income is $38,015, compared to $56,527 for white households, including white Hispanics. Only Black-owned properties in Liberty City are where rental prices have remained stable. This shows how oppression and marginalization continue to materialize and undermine Black people’s health and well-being through the “othering” of their lived and shared experiences.

Racism no longer manifests as white robes and gowns, but as systemic violence, negative institutional power, and social organization systems among oppressed communities such as what we are currently facing in Florida.

For instance, Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Children and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act will censor the intellectual exchange of ideas and proposals for redressing historical wrongs that persist. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill would prohibit discussions in primary school classrooms about “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

However, Florida legislators have yet to address the state’s “apartheid” school system, which consistently violates the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated American education. Additionally, Florida legislators have failed to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, specifically, disparities in sentencing and sentence length for Blacks compared to other races committing similar crimes.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which “promotes school safety and better coordination between education and law enforcement institutions,” had unforeseen repercussions. The statute has hampered health care providers, law enforcement, and school communication and criminalized mental illness. “If we spent as much time and money on mental health and social/emotional aspects as we did on erecting gates, conducting active shooter drills, and installing panic buttons in each classroom, we would not have this reactionary response,” as mentioned in the report.

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