28th October 2013 · 0 Comments
By Edmund W. Lewis
Have you ever wondered what privilege looks, smells and tastes like? I don’t. After all, I see it every day on the streets of New Orleans.
Privilege means you and your circle of friends and/or former classmates get access to the best economic opportunities while not having to worry about fair competition from people who look nothing like you or didn’t grow up in the right part of town.
Privilege means you refuse to release records to the public about Tulane scholarship recipients while pontificating about poor people you don’t think deserve food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, access to fresh fruits and vegetables and free health care.
Privilege means you get the option of living in a gated community and/or hiring off-duty cops to patrol the neighborhood while shaking your head as you watch news stories about how “those people” live.
Privilege means you can enforce laws and ordinances like the residency rule whenever it suits your purposes.
Privilege means you can raise property taxes, energy bills, and Sewerage and Water Board rates to price some low-income and working-class families out of New Orleans.
Privilege means you benefit from an economic and educational system that keeps Black people undereducated and underemployed, making them perfect candidates for dead-end jobs and the prison-industrial complex.
Privilege means you get to dismiss efforts to reform the NOPD because no one in your family or neighborhood has ever been murdered or assaulted by one or more of New Orleans’ finest.
Privilege means you get paid six figures by the state Dept. of Education or other school officials to dismantle, exploit and undermine Black public schools while sending your own children to private or parochial schools.
Privilege means some people’s children get to experiment with drugs and alcohol and endanger other people’s lives while others’ kids are labeled criminals and marginalized from the day they are born.
Privilege means some children get a “get out of jail free card” while others get constantly harassed by cops and sent to jail on trumped-up charges to make sure they get “three strikes.”
Privilege means you get to stack the deck politically by assigning all of your friends and supporters to various city boards and commissions.
Privilege means you leave nothing to chance by creating a draconian, machiavellian system that ensures you come out on top every time you wage a battle.
Privilege also means that a majority-Black city gets a majority-white city council, majority-white school board and white-controlled legal system and city administration that tell Black people every day that they do not have the right to a just criminal justice system, a police department that practices constitutional policing, income equality or equal protection under the law.
If we’re going to change any of that, we must first change the mindset of the oppressed masses in New Orleans. To accomplish that aim, we must first stimulate their minds with questions about what it means to be Living While Black in New Orleans. Let’s get started.
Who thinks local Black or white elected officials are doing a good job?
Who wants to send their kid to a brand new school built on contaminated soil?
How many of you who read this column really believe that “this land was made for you and me”?
Who exactly do you think conservatives are referring to when they talk about the “deserving poor”?
How many bitter and disgruntled members of Congress does it take to screw up a country?
When did it become patriotic to knowingly and willfully undermine the nation’s economy and do everything you can to cause the federal government to come crashing down?
While Americans appear to be cognizant of the games conservatives are playing with the national economy and American lives right now, do you think the GOP will be made to feel that wrath in a major way in the 2014 midterm elections and in 2016’s elections?
Do you think it was a coincidence that State Farm was “convinced” by some entity to end its role as title sponsor for the Bayou Classic and now the game is being controlled by people with no ties to or demonstrated commitment to bolstering the missions of the two historically Black institutions that play in the annual college football game?
How pleased do you think wealthy and powerful white conservatives with their latest Black mascot, acclaimed neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson?
Don’t you wish that the brilliant Dr. Benjamin Caron had taken the time to delve a little into Black history during his formative years and that he had taken the time and made the effort to grasp who he is and what his ancestors sacrificed to make his success possible?
What would happen if members of Congress made moves to shut down the federal government every time a law was democratically passed that they did not like or vote for?
Does anyone who knows anything about the acts of domestic terrorism and savagery committed by white supremacists for more than a century after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union won the Civil War think that a return to states’ rights would be a good thing for Black people and other people of color?
When did it become illegal for a Black college student to buy a $350 belt in New York City?
Can you think of anything scarier this Halloween than someone who actually buys all of the manure conservatives are shoveling on Capitol Hill and elsewhere?
This article originally published in the October 28, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.