Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Stop, look and listen

22nd October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

I spent some time last week thinking about Malcolm X’s observation about education being “our passport to the future” and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s identification of intelligence and character as the goals of a “true education.” Both men’s perspective holds significance in 2012 as people of color continue to strive for recognition as free human beings in this society.

While the words used to oppress people of African descent changes from time to time, the reality is that others still believe that they have the power and authority to determine who is a full-fledged citizen of this nation, who is worthy of justice and equal protection under the law and who is human. Those who fail to make the cut run the risk of waking up one day to discover that others see them as mere three-fifths of a human being or a member of the “47 percent” GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney thinks it is okay to ignore and dismiss.

The only thing that that remains to be seen is what we are going to do about it. Are we going to sell out our brothers and sisters for a few pieces of silver? Are we going to accept what the powers that be think we deserve and take it lying down? Are we going to get up and continue to fight the good fight our ancestors began fighting when they refused to die or relinquish their humanity?

So many questions, so many chances to engage one another in meaningful conversations about the plight of Black people. Just as faith without works is dead, knowledge that is not used to uplift and empower the oppressed is utterly useless.

Let’s just jump in and get started.

• What makes the big wigs at the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board think the agency has the right to ask New Orleans residents, particularly seniors on a fixed income, for more money to pay for its services without even making a serious effort to trim the fat from its own budget?

• How much dinero could the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board save annually if it stopped doling out wads of cash to Jefferson Parish-based engineering firms who are being paid to do work the S&WB’s own engineers are capable of handling while still allowing employees to abuse an outdated overtime pay system and continuing to pay former S&WB executives stacks of cash after they retire?

• Aren’t you tired of watching New Orleans residents using nonprofit organizations, volunteer groups and civic associations as a springboard for getting elected to office?

• In this so-called era of accountability, transparency and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, how do so many officials and appointees affiliated with boards, commissions and agencies like the Port of New Orleans, New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund get away with living like kings and queens off public funds?

• How many lives might have been saved over the past few years if Louisiana’s beloved governor had not cut funds available for health care, moved a mental health care facility to the Northshore and refused to accept stimulus funds that could have been used to meet Louisiana residents’ basic needs?

• What makes former NOPD Officer Jason Giroir, the officer who made public comments about Trayvon Martin “livin’ like a thug and dying like a thug,” think he has the right to walk away from the New Orleans Police Department without any mention of the circumstances under which he lost his job in his records?

• What’s the difference between celebrities and athletes investing in young Black people in New Orleans and those who show up for photo-ops after various companies give them free stuff to distribute to “underprivileged” young people?

• Why do so few college-educated Black people in New Orleans seem to understand what the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said that character and intelligence are the true goals of a true education?

• Who believed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he said Tuesday night that he cares about everybody in America, even those who make up the so-called “47 percent” he dismissed as “victims” who depend on the government for help earlier this year?

• What do you think about Mitt Romney’s son’s comments about wanting to punch President Barack Obama in the face?

• Did anyone notice that Mitt Romney tried to pretend that he didn’t see President Obama coming over to shake his hand and how he and his wife turned away from the president immediately after the debate?

• If Chik-Fil-A felt so strongly about taking a stand against same-sex marriages, why did the company suddenly switch gears and soften its stance after things really began to heat up?

• What are you doing personally to inspire, uplift and empower Black youth in New Orleans?

This article was originally published in the October 22, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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