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Black American communities feel slighted in the library process

Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Black American communities feel slighted in the library process

By Derek Joy

The budget process in Miami Dade County government held its public library system hostage. Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was hard core. There were plans to lay off staff, relegate others to part time employment, shorten hours at some locations and close others.

And. Presto… Gimenez granted an 11th- hour reprieve.

So, what did he do next? He hired a consultant to delve into the library problems. Trouble is, the consultant opted to do his work at the West Kendall Regional Library and the North Dade Regional Library.

The consultant chose the West Kendall location for a 6 p.m. forum and 10 a.m. forum at the North Dade location.

“When my grandkids were growing up I made sure they kept a current library card,” said Lorraine Goa, a long time resident of Miami’s Shadow-lawn neighborhood. “One of my nephews, Gary Smith, uses the library down south. He goes to the library quite often.”

Unlike Goa, who said she doesn’t use the library and couldn’t say whether or libraries in Black American communities are underfunded and have fewer resources, others spoke out.

“They’re full of crap,” said James Joy III, a frequent visitor to the Little River Branch of the Miami Dade Public Library. “In fact, they have more books, reference materials and laptop computers in libraries in White and Hispanic communities than those in Black areas.”

“I called the library down-town to talk to a lady about that. She told me the library budget was frozen. But for all the money we pay in taxes you can’t tell me they don’t have enough money. They have money for everything else they want.”

“And as far as meeting in only two libraries they should meet at all of them, especially in the Black neighborhoods. They should have those meetings in the evenings, too.”

Gimenez didn’t indicate why the consultant chose only the West Kendall and North Dade Regional branches. Doesn’t appear Gimenez considered, or even cared about the perception of added discrimination against Black American communities.

Ironically, while the North Dade Regional Library is located in Commissioner Barbara Jordan’s District 2, none of the other three Black American County Commissioners publicly addressed this perceived slight.

Commissioners Jean Monestine (District 2), Audrey Edmonson (District 3), and Dennis Moss (District 9) did not make any requests to have similar forums at libraries in their respective districts.

“Yeah, they are underfunded and have fewer resources in libraries in Black communities,” said Steve Johnson, a Black American of Haitian descent. “When I go to libraries down south I see a big difference. They always leave us out. That’s why we have to make a stand.”

Black Americans on the County Commission sit idly by while Gimenez and the other commissioners bamboozle the taxpayers and voters.

In    each one; Little River, Edison Center, Liberty City, Opa Locka and other Miami Dade Public Library branches located in Black American communities. They’ll find fewer laptops, books, and research and reference materials.

Some books have to be ordered from other branches. And reference/research mate-rials and publications won’t be transferred. Instead, they are for use only at that location.

“They should’ve gone to all of the libraries, not just two,” said Charles Cutler. “You know what’s ironic about that? There are people who work during the day, people who don’t work and people in transition – looking for a job, and going on medical appointments.

“So, apparently, they didn’t want to talk to anybody. Nine times out of ten only hands full of people were there at 10 a.m.”

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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