Filed Under:  Columns, OpEd, Opinion

The Hard Truth – Handwriting on the wall

11th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Columnist

Part II

I could say that it’s never too late but there would be two problems with that statement. First, it’s a worn-out cliché. Second it’s a totally false statement. There are many times when it’s too late to repent, and repentance is exactly what the leaders of the city of New Orleans should be engaged in right about now. The impending demise of the Times-Picayune, the city’s only daily newspaper should be ringing out as a warning and a sign of things to come.

The silence of white religious leaders of the area is an act of betrayal. The Bible says “Woe to the watchman who does not warn the people.” They know what’s coming but the truth they possess would be unpopular to speak, so being cowards they choose silence. Dr. King spoke of situations where silence = betrayal. This is it. Unfortunately for them, it ain’t me they have to answer to.

If there is any significance to the name “Katrina” having to do with cleansing, it would have to be that the storm and the human-caused flood provided the city with a grand opportunity to clean up its act. This was the time to do right by all the groups who have been abused, oppressed, excluded and maligned through the years. This was the chance to “make it right” to share the wealth and power of this great city and at least make a valiant effort to create a space on earth where there actually was liberty, justice and prosperity for all.

You had the chance and you blew it. Now you have a white mayor who won with massive Black support but supports police abuse and the disenfranchisement of the Black community to impress the racists who did not go with him for his first term.

You have a community of white so-called liberals who support people like Stacey Head for office in spite of her overt racism and disrespect toward the Black community. This sector has pretty much made its choice: they have decided to put their racial loyalty above justice or the common good. New Orleans’ white liberals are now more than ever “white first.” That is why they won’t denounce or confront a Stacey Head about her racism and disrespect of the community. That is also why they would not check the Picayune on its racist reporting.

Come on, really? No one is really making a connection between the explosion of crimes by youth with the theft and dismantling of the public school system? Yes being selective about accepting students and handling smaller numbers can result in higher overall school performance scores, but what about those you exclude and leave behind? Are people so stupid that they can’t see what is happening or just indulging in a denial that gets less convenient with each gunshot?

So now, the city’s communications icon is reeling, leaving 100 people/families to ponder, find other work or another place to live which would drain the city of people and brain power. It’s not likely these folks are dropping resumes at the local restaurants and hotels. The sins of the past strike again. In their greed LABI and other leaders have resisted attempts to diversify the economic base of the city, trying to keep the wealth to themselves.

The Picayune has never been a meaningful part of the solution regarding the city’s racial problems. The white liberals that are begging, pleading and petitioning the Newhouse Corporation to keep it going already know their cause is lost. They know that “three days per week” is only the first step toward “zero days per week.” But where were they when it was time to fight for justice and the right of return for thousands of people trying to come home?

Since there has never been a daily newspaper that addressed the needs of the Black community in Metro New Orleans, I propose that the major Black players in communications have a “Wild Ideas” Summit to examine the possibilities that could emerge if they pooled their considerable knowledge and resources. What if the leaders of The Louisiana Weekly, Data Newsweekly, The Tribune and the Black Pages had a little sit down at some Black restaurant, or community center or church? What if that meeting also included Black folks who are doing effective online media? What if a Black bank and some Black folks in the financial sector came along just to add a taste of economic reality to the mix? And to keep the discussion real, what if some of the city’s respected grassroots activists/leaders were included? Folks like Jerome Smith, Viola Francois, Mary Joseph, Malcolm Suber, Wesley Johnson and Bro. Willie X come to mind. (Insert your own names/sectors here.) And you must have some youth in the mix.

Add a great facilitator to keep things on track and now you’re ready to bake.

What if all of these awesome people actually assessed the information needs/wants of the Black community (using surveys and their personal knowledge), the fiscal and operational resources at their command, the networks, brainpower and other resources available to them and came up with a plan to make something happen?

What awesome thing could come from this?

It could change the course of history for New Orleans, or the world. It could provide the information, motivation and inspiration to galvanize the entire Black community and dramatically impact everybody else (even though that would not be our focus). It could be a mighty force for absolute, total Black Liberation.

Whether white New Orleans ever repents or not, this season is both a warning and an opportunity to the Black community to start handling its business in a serious way. A storm is coming, last one was water, next comes the fire. As Malcolm X said, the future belongs to those who are prepared…

…So, Whatchagonna DO?

This article was originally published in the June 11, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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