Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Plantation politics

16th April 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

Major props go out to NFL free agent and former LSU safety Eric Reid, who did not allow Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown to play with him or make light of his decision to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

Reid, a friend and former teammate of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has continued to kneel during the playing of the national anthem for a full season after Kaepernick lost his starting job with the 49ers and continues to deal with being blackballed by NFL team owners.

There has been some speculation that Reid might suffer a similar fate, with few teams showing interest in signing him until his recent visit to the underachieving Cincinnati Bengals.

A number of reports said it appeared as though the Bengals were all ready to sign Reid when the team’s owner questioned the outspoken athlete about his willingness to end his protests of racial injustice and police brutality during the playing of the national anthem. While Reid had pondered the possibility of channeling his protests into other actions in the future, he was not prepared for Mike Brown to give him an ultimatum and the issue ended up being a deal breaker for the Bengals and Reid.

Colin Kaepernick, who is credited with kicking off the NFL player protests which have spread to soccer teams around the world and even led to high school and college athletes and cheerleaders kneeling during the national anthem, must be somewhere smiling.

As a number of sports journalists have pointed out, it is interesting that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown would take issue with Reid and other players kneeling during the national anthem but have no problem with the team signing NFL problem child Adam “Pacman” Jones and a certain college running back who was caught on tape slugging a woman in the face in a restaurant.

Slaves will be slaves, after all. Even $60 million slaves.

An entire generation of young Black and Brown boys are watching as Eric Reid, Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and other NFL players make it clear that there are some things that are more important than playing professional football.

Those who are committed to fighting for justice, freedom and equity are inspired by these athletes’ insistence on acting on the courage of their convictions and their commitment to making things better for future generations.

While some may think these players are out of their “cotton-picking minds,” we salute them for leading principled lives and living in a way that would make the Beloved Ancestors smile.

Anyway, I got a few questions for y’all. Here we go:

• Why are there people in the City of New Orleans who refuse to give credit to Ernest “Dutch” Morial for starting the French Quarter Festival more than three decades ago or to the Black folks who created and organized the first Jazz Fest?

• How has the mayor become an expert on race and racism without studying the work of African-centered scholars like Dr. Neely Fuller and the late, great Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, and if he has studied their work, why hasn’t he acknowledged their groundbreaking work?

• Is there any mention in the City’s Tricentennial Celebration about our African ancestors who built the French Quarter and rebuilt it after it burned to the ground?

• Why did the mayor, who insists he is progressive-minded, refuse to acknowledge the 200th anniversary of the 1811 shave revolt, the largest slave result in U.S. history, during his first term in office?

• How much attention do you expect Tricentennial Celebration organizers to pay to the 1811 slave revolt, the Haitian Revolution, the housing of Black Union troops at St. James AME Church and the deportation of the Honorable Marcus Garvey from the Jackson Ave. Wharf in New Orleans?

• Why would the New Orleans Convention & Tourism Bureau think it was a good idea to refer to an uptown New Orleans neighborhood as the “Middle Passage”?

• Do you think that organizers of New Orleans’ Tricentennial Celebration might mention that the Cabildo in the French Quarter was used to detain enslaved Africans in the wake of the 1811 slave revolt and that after those Africans were tried and brutally executed, they were decapitated and their heads were placed on spikes along what is now Jackson Square?

• Will organizers of the Tricentennial Celebration tell residents and visitors to the city about the history of the fleur de lis as it relates to slavery?

• What kind of police officer shoots an innocent man three times in the chest and three times in the back at point-blank range, cusses him out while he lies on the ground bleeding to death and has the audacity to say he did nothing wrong and wants his job back?

• How does the mayor justify writing a book about the removal of four Confederate-era monuments in New Orleans without mentioning the civil rights veterans who worked for decades to remove those statues from public spaces and groups like Take Em Down NOLA, who continue to fight for the removal of monuments to white supremacy and slavery in the city?

• Wouldn’t the City’s 300th anniversary be a great time for Tulane University to come clean about how it profited from the enslavement of Africans and its ties to the Confederacy?

This article originally published in the April 16, 2018 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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