Time To Talk:
Flora Challenges Leaders to Converse
Like the rest of Jersey City, NJ Democratic Primary Candidate John Flora (NJ-10) witnessed hatred rip through his hometown right before the holidays. In the wake of the shootings that left six dead, what surprised him most was the storm of reactions to a Jersey City School Board member’s comments on social media. Governor Phil Murphy, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and several of Joan Terrell-Paige’s colleagues were among the elected to quickly condemn her statement.
“Rather than hastily demanding her resignation,” said Flora, “this was an ideal moment for our locally elected to sit down with Mrs. Terrell, clarify her statements, and be prepared to demonstrate empathy. Was she still processing the event? Did it traumatize her? Did it remind her of years of trauma that her Greeneville neighbors experienced?”
Instead, the residents of Jersey City witnessed a week of local and state leaders speaking at Joan through press releases.
“To me”, Flora inserted, “her remarks were an invitation for the entire city to discuss honestly what led up to such a horrific event. There is a lingering resentment in certain transitioning neighborhoods that I’m not sure repeated sit-downs with the same community leaders will ever resolve.”
John Flora knows about the community because he was born in the Greenville neighborhood and has taught all over the city for sixteen years. He acknowledges that the problems of a divided city have always been there and are not newly discovered in Terrell-Paige’s statement. “‘Diverse’ is not to be confused with ‘integrated’” is his frequent response to claims that Jersey City is leading the way when it comes to diversity.
“I can see why some people said her comments lacked sensitivity. She shouldn’t have directly asked ‘what is the message [that the shooters] were sending?’ But there still remains a bigger conversation to be had by the city and the school district alike” Flora explained. “The Black community has been plagued by violence and a sense of abandonment for decades. Tragedies happen all the time in certain areas of Jersey City without any national attention. There is an outcry for help here we can no longer ignore.”
The Jersey City School Board Meeting had to be postponed due to the controversy surrounding Terrill-Paige’s comments and her future as a school district representative. The meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, January 2nd at 6:00pm at PS#41 School located at 59 Wilkinson Avenue. A united community vigil in support of Joan is scheduled beforehand at 5:30pm. Anyone who would like to speak during public comments at this meeting may call 201-915-6074 before 4:00pm on Thursday.