‘My people perish from a lack of knowledge.” That is a familiar paraphrase of the biblical verse of Hosea 4:6. The importance in that phrase is profound. It offers an explanation for both the ‘how’ and the ‘why.’ If you don’t have knowledge, you will perish. If you perish, your lack of knowledge is the reason why. In either case, knowledge is the definitive answer to all of our problems. With knowledge comes understanding and therefore solutions.

This newspaper with its limited staff and resources has done a fantastic job of presenting knowledge to the Austin community. We as a group have been on the forefront of many issues that are now making headline news. I covered mortgage fraud in June, 2006 well in advance of the latest news regarding foreclosures. We’ve kept the Howard Morgan story alive long before the brutal beatings by off-duty cops caused Supt. Phil Cline to resign. And through it all, we have presented knowledge to the Austin community so that we as a community can have access to it. But when that access to knowledge is denied us, then it’s time for us to get even and not mad.

When I first began to read this paper, I would pick it up at the old Harris Bank location at 5454 W. North Ave. It was always good to read what was going on in the community. When that location closed, I found the paper at the currency exchange at North and Laramie.

For the past few months, I wasn’t able to find the paper. I got different stories from different people. The original set of clerks had changed. I don’t know the manager, but in speaking with others, I was given a different story each time. If I went in Friday night, the story was that all the papers had been taken. If I went in Friday morning, the story was that the paper hadn’t gotten delivered. Finally, I did some sleuthing on a Thursday, which is the delivery date, and found out that the papers were being thrown in the garbage!

I was told the current manager of the currency exchange doesn’t want the paper in the place. Huh? A business that gets 95 percent of its customers from right here in Austin, the majority of whom are African-American, and the manager doesn’t feel the need to allow a community newspaper to be available in his/her business? What’s going on?

Well here’s some truth, like it or not. The currency exchange at North and Laramie is not interested in this community. Otherwise they wouldn’t have a problem allowing the community newspapers to be in their establishment. And their staff would look like the community. But because their greater concern is making money off of us rather than being a responsible business owner to us, they don’t have a concern about our access to knowledge. Their issue is that they are here to make money off of us and nothing else matters. I am not mad at them. They are being honest with their intentions.

Every week that currency exchange is filled with people cashing checks and getting money orders. We are contributing to the employment and wealth of people who do not look like us. If this trend continues, where will we get the jobs to allow us to remain in this community if everyone else is here working and we are customers? How long can that trend continue?

I am again going to go back on the bandwagon of stating that we need our own bank. The old Harris Bank location at 5454 W. North Ave. can become a bank again if people are interested in making it happen. And it will not happen because we ask for it, but it will happen if we demand it.

I am looking for people interested in making that idea come true. As I’ve stated previously, the United Bank of Philadelphia was able to do it. And we can as well-if we have the will. Then, rather than focus on making money off the community, we can have an institution that can lend us money to keep this community. Rather than having a business that doesn’t want any knowledge to be shared, we can have a financial institution that promotes knowledge. Rather than watch while others come into our community and earn a living while we have unemployed folks, we can create our own jobs for our own people. Rather than have the bank building become another cheap strip mall, we can have our own bank loan funds for malls elsewhere.

If, like Fannie Lou Hamer, you are “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” then call me and let’s see what we can get going. I can be reached at 773/622-3863.

Contact: www.arlenejones.blogspot.com.