Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Stand up and take a knee

2nd January 2018   ·   0 Comments

Considering the incredible impact it has had on the sports world, pop culture and politics, it is not surprising that some saw the NFL player protests as the sports story of the year.

It is, after all, something that many believe would never happen: Professional athletes risking their lifestyle and hefty paychecks to take a stand for victims of police brutality and bigotry.

But somewhere along the way, some athletes began to get “it.”

And by “it” I mean the understanding and revelation that comes with learning that “there but for the grace of God go I.”

What happened to Trayvon Martin, Justin Sipp, Adolph Grimes, James Brissette, Ronald Madison, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Sean Bell and all the other unarmed victims of deadly police force could very well happen to any and all of us. Hell, it already has and still is happening to us.

The gesture of taking a knee during the national anthem to take a stand for justice and equality has proven to be so profound that it has inspired NBA players to also get involved, as well as college football players, college cheerleaders, high school football players and even soccer players around the world.

It isn’t about disrespecting the U.S. flag or military veterans as some would like you to believe. It’s about standing up for justice and doing everything possible to raise awareness of the problems and issues that still plague this nation and its people.

Much love and gratitude to these NFL players for the sterling example they have set for young athletes and for inspiring millions around the world to say and do something when they see something that needs to be addressed by those we elect to lead us and the media.

I thank y’all for having our back and using your platform to spark dialogue and change.

That’s my word.

By the way, I got a few questions for y’all. Here we go:

• How long do you suppose it will take for the issue of Confederate monuments, street names and school names to make its way back into the New Orleans City Council Chambers?

• Do you suppose that Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is still boycotting the New Orleans Saints after 14 players participated in a protest by refusing to stand for the national anthem on Sept. 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina?

• Are all of the other Saints boycotters still planning to boycott the team as it prepares to make its run into the 2018 National Football League playoffs?
Why hasn’t the mayor stood before residents and answered their questions about the Sewerage & Water Board himself rather than continue to allow those who work for him to take all the heat for his administration’s colossal failure to ensure that the agency carries out its duties and responsibilities to the public?

• Why hasn’t anyone talked about how the higher-ups at City Hall and at the S&WB have used “emergency status” as a ruse to hire white contractors from surrounding parishes rather than make a serious effort to reach minority hiring goals for more than a half century?

• Why wouldn’t the City of New Orleans jump at the opportunity to use all that federal money to buy new turbines for the city’s pumping system, and who is it that benefits the most by the City not buying those new turbines?

• Who are we going to elect to replace current Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro the first chance we get?

• After all the complaints filed against the Louisiana State Police by Blacks during former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson’s tenure and the agency’s defense of local law enforcement agencies it investigated for shooting unarmed Black men and boys, isn’t it interesting that Edmonson is being vilified by elected officials like U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, Metropolitan Crime Commission and even the Louisiana State Police for pretending not to know about the state troopers’ side trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon last year and his alleged misuse of taxpayer funds to pay for hotel rooms for his family, living quarters for he and his wife at the agency’s compound and other amenities?

• Has state Attorney General Jeff Landry been as vocal about investigating and filing charges against former LSP Col. Mike Edmonson as he has been about going after New Orleans Mayor-elect Latoya Cantrell?

• When are Black Louisianians going to get as serious about the power of the ballot and its ability to turn things around as Black voters in Alabama got when they decided that there was no way they were going to let Roy Moore represent them on Capitol Hill?

• When will Tulane University get around to coming clean on its ties to the Confederacy and the way it benefited from slavery?

• How much time and energy do you think the new mayor and City Council will devote to ensuring that women and minority contractors are treated fairly by the City of New Orleans?

• How do you build wealth, economic power and political muscle in a majority-Black city without addressing the fact that the white business community continues to control City Hall and New Orleans Public School contracts while allowing charter school leaders to treat our children like laboratory rats?

• How long are we going to allow colored folks who clearly do not have our best interests at heart to speak for us and represent us on the City Council, in the State Legislature and on Capitol Hill?

• What lessons have we not yet learned from the Haitian Revolution, 1811 Slave Revolt and the Historic Civil Rights Movement?

• Why did it take the Feds so long to decide to investigate the City of New Orleans’ spending of hundreds of millions of dollars of funds earmarked for post-Katrina recovery?

• Is anyone else tired of watching state Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy trying to “out-conservative” one another as they seek to lay the foundation for a gubernatorial bid?

• What could we accomplish in New Orleans and across the state if we got as excited about voting and becoming politically active as we are about the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints and the approach of Mardi Gras?

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

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