Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Dark days and sleepless nights

7th May 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

This is not a good time in New Orleans.

Children are literally dying in the streets, high school students are posting fights on YouTube and the police are shooting Black people like we are going out of style. If there was ever a time for Black people to come together and put together a game plan for addressing all of the ills that plague communities of color, that time is now. With an increasing number of Black elected and appointed officials proving that they are nothing more than political concubines for the powers that be, it’s become painstakingly clear that this group cannot be relied upon to lead us out the chaos and mayhem that threaten to annihilate us. That’s something that we, the people, will have to do for ourselves.

Let’s start by doing a better job of taking care of one another, supporting Black institutions that support and uplift us and sharing critical information and issues with our friends, loved ones, friends and neighbors. There’s no time like the present to start asking the kinds of questions that light a fire under all of us and remind us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Here we go:

• How much better off would New Orleans and the State of Louisiana be if thousands of Black college graduates had not been forced to leave this city and state to find economic and education opportunities commensurate with their accomplishments and marketable skills?

• Is it even possible for us to find our way out of the darkness that has engulfed Black New Orleans without the love, benevolence and protection of the Creator and a realization that “faith without works is dead”?

• When did Black parents, teachers, ministers and other adults stop nurturing, loving, rearing, providing for and protecting Black children?

• If the mayor could sing “You Are My Sunshine” to mark the bicentennial of Louisiana’s statehood, why couldn’t he even utter a word or grunt to acknowledge the 200th anniversary of the 1811 slave revolt, the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history, last year?

• Why are so few elected officials raising any hell about Gov. Piyush Jindal’s plan that takes millions in federal funds earmarked for housing and uses it to finance the third wave of renovations to the Louisiana Superdome since Hurricane Katrina?

• If Mercedes-Benz is benefiting handsomely from the naming rights it has with the Louisiana Superdome, why can’t it fork over a few measly million dollars to upgrade its home?

• Isn’t it amazing how high and quickly members of the New Orleans City Council jump when somebody from the Garden District objects to plans to build a football stadium on the Tulane University campus?

• Why does the City of New Orleans have to host a Super Bowl for the city’s street lights to finally be repaired almost seven years after Hurricane Katrina?

• Why does the Landrieu administration, New Orleans City Council, New Orleans Police Department the Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School Strict all place such a high premium on keeping secrets that the tax-paying public has the constitutional right to know?

• If we had to choose between second-lines, partying and going nightclubbing or saving our children, how many of us would choose the latter?

• Why do we allow the governor to continue to get away with pulling all kinds of political ploys out of his trickbag under the cover of darkness while continually trying to shine a spotlight on his political opponents?

• Does anyone see the irony of the current administration doing everything in its power to prevent some members of the media and community activists from attending the recent “Healing for Democracy” conference hosted recently in New Orleans by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation?

• Why does City Hall only get excited about major tourism events that come to the city and make the city’s business community even richer?

• Why do so many of us pretend not to see that the powers that be are meticulously turning back the clock in New Orleans and constructing an elaborate maze of laws and ordinances that severely limit the life chances of Black people in this city?

• What would the tourism industry do if “the Help” called in sick Super Bowl weekend?

• Since the Landrieu administration has repeatedly ignored calls for the termination or resignation of NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas, what are the odds that City Hall will listen to the Police Association of New Orleans, which also described the New Orleans Police Department as “a sinking ship” last week?

• Since the mayor took it upon himself to take Black community leaders to task recently at the Kellogg Foundation conference for protesting the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin, Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen but in his opinion not doing enough to address Black-on-Black crime, does that mean the Landrieu administration will give money to the families of the teenage victims of the latest wave of violence since it reportedly gave money to pay for the funeral of one of the city’s NOPD shooting victims in March?

• Why is it so easy for the mayor to blame the violence in New Orleans on the city’s “gun culture” but so difficult for him to admit the lack of educational and economic opportunities available to Black residents is the result of a persistently racist culture?

• Why can’t the city go after killer cops, drug traffickers and murderers as hard as it goes after taxi cab drivers, French Quarter tour guides, street vendors and residents renting parking space and selling refreshments during the annual Jazz Fest?

• How many French Quarter tour guides tell visitors to the city that Jackson Square was one of the places in New Orleans where the decapitated heads of enslaved Africans were placed on pikes in the wake of the 1811 slave revolt?

• Why is the U.S. Justice Department even considering the City of New Orleans’ concerns as negotiations continue over a federal consent decree for the New Orleans Police Department?

• Why don’t the Empowerment Seminars at the annual Essence Music Festival ever address the ongoing oppression of Black people in the U.S. and work on strategies to increase the decision-making power of Blacks and other people of color in the U.S.?

• What would the City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana and the United States do if the teenagers who were murdered recently in New Orleans had been white?

This article was originally published in the May 7, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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