Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Stay ready

6th May 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

The elders used to say that if you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready when it’s time for some action. In many communities of color, including those in New Orleans, the things that have slowed and blocked progress are ignorance and inertia, something the Black Panther Party called “the two Is.”

If we’re serious about improving our collective lot in this city, it’s way beyond time that we get serious about bringing justice, democracy and equity to New Orleans.

Let’s start by building a coalition of hard-working, critical thinkers who understand that our actions speak louder than anything we could ever say. Let’s make a conscious effort to reach out to those who don’t spend much time thinking about the plight of communities of color and teaching people of all ages to have a deeper respect for life, human rights and one another. Let’s foster a tighter kinship among ourselves by remembering that “I am because we are” and engaging in random acts of Blackness. Buy a young brother or sister a book that sheds light on the plight of African people. Give a kid in the neighborhood a chance to earn some change by mowing your lawn or washing your car. Run errands for an elder or give someone a ride to an ap­pointment. Get involved in efforts to make your neighborhood safer and cleaner. You get the idea.

And now for a little brain food:

• With an estimated 25 cars submerged in Bayou St. John, isn’t it time for voters and elected officials to consider installing a guard rail along the bayou?

• How many more lives and institutions is Louisiana Gov. Piyush Jindal going to have to wreck before Louisiana residents finally figure out that the man who decided to change his name to “Bobby” is no longer fit to govern in a democratic republic?

• Was there anything about the two accused Boston bombers that looked “dark-skinned” to you?

• Have you noticed how few elected officials from New Orleans have anything to say about the NOPD consent decree and the Orleans Parish Prison consent decree?

• Didn’t it make you laugh to see the dude in the French Quarter who was texting take a shotgun from a would-be robber, who then breaks out running before returning to ask for his rifle back?

• Doesn’t the film 42 make you wish there were more athletes and people in general today like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Wilma Rudolph, Althea Gibson, Julius Erving, Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe?

• Why do so few Black elected officials in this majority-Black city raise questions about the paltry number of Black companies doing business with the City of New Orleans?

• Shouldn’t Louisiana Gov. Piyush Jindal have to look every senior citizen and disabled person in this state in the eye and explain to them why they don’t deserve more help to pay for their health needs after paying taxes all of their lives?

• When did New Orleans become a city overflowing with “litterbugs”?

• What does Sen. Mary Landrieu think about her brother’s relentless effort to do away with the NOPD consent decree in New Orleans and what does the mayor think about his sister’s refusal to vote for a ban on all assault weapons last month on Capitol Hill?

• How many people in New Or­leans and surrounding areas who have lost loved ones to gun violence are planning to write Sen. Mary Landrieu and thank her for refusing to take a firm stand against gun violence on her murder-ravaged hometown?

• Now that the mayor has flexed on Stacy Head and the rest of the City Council, what are they going to have to do to get the mayor to understand that government works be­cause of a system of checks and balances?

• Is anybody shocked by the new Farlieigh Dickinson University poll that shows that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t even on the radar when it comes to winning the next GOP presidential election?

• How many people in this city are sick and tired of seeing the same people being tapped time and again to fill openings at City Hall and serve on various city boards and commissions?

• When did Black elected officials start believing that they owe the people who elected them to office absolutely nothing and refusing to place their principles above their political survival?

• Is there really any fundamental difference between someone motivated by white supremacy and a Black elected official who refuses to lift a finger or stick out his or her neck to help communities of color?

• With so many amazing jazz artists hailing from this city, why hasn’t there been a movement to open a Black-owned world-class jazz nightclub, even if it meant aligning with a dozen or so jazz musicians and/or vocalists?

• With so many people in communities of color languishing in poverty, unemployment, underemployment, poor health, illiteracy, homelessness, substance abuse and a host of other societal ills, isn’t it amazing that there are still a lot of people in this nation who are bitter about the election of a Black president and the very little progress Black America has made over the past few decades?

• Are you and all of your friends, former classmates, loved ones, neighbors, church family and co-workers registered to vote?

• Given the proclivity of so-called conservative Christians to vehemently oppose any legislation that makes life easier for the nation’s poor, hungry, sick, homeless, unemployed and uneducated, do you really think that the man historians and theologians refer to as Jesus Christ would be a proud, card-carrying and gun-toting member of the Party of Lincoln today?

• Based on the way it treats people of color, poor people, sick people and the homeless, does the U.S. government really think it has the moral authority to judge, criticize and lecture other nations around the world about human rights violations?

This article originally published in the May 6, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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