Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

The Hard Truth – Handwriting on the wall

4th June 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Columnist

The fall of the Times Picayune should send a warning to the rulers of this city and to all of its subjects.

Make no mistake about it, for the largest city in the state to even publicly discuss going from daily to a few days per week is a definite fall and possibly a sign of impending decline, not just for that paper, for the city it claims to serve.

Add the fact that one reason for the move has to do with decreasing sales because of a diminished population and you have an almost Biblical scenario of powerful people corporations and agencies reaping what they have sown in a really bad way.

The powers-that-be in New Orleans and surrounding areas did not want the masses of Black people to return after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. They practically danced in the streets when they saw the devastated Black neighborhoods.

At every level they have blocked the return of more than 100,000 residents. A drive through the Lower 9th Ward is evidence that something foul, criminal and obscene has happened. A once-thriving neighborhood is still deserted and desolate, seven years after the hurricane because powerful agencies played games with the resources to rebuild and get people back into their homes. This alone should warn the spiritually minded among us that someone has to pay for this crime. Why aren’t their own prophets warning them about this?

Then there’s the plundering and pillaging of the educational system and the violence that increases from having a huge illiterate or uneducated population. The elimination of low-income housing combined with the refusal to control rents is another deliberate policy stance that has kept people from returning. What about the policy of blocking and hindering economic development in New Orleans East? There is no good reason that area should not be thriving by now.

Now they find that the people who could not come back also cannot help support a daily newspaper. The Picayune was never considered by most to be a friend of the Black community but it was still required reading, just as NOLA.com has become required online reading for Katrina exiles/evacuees. The paper provides a service, regardless how tainted.

The loss of prestige that comes with the loss of a daily paper will likely lead to other enterprises deciding to take their business to a more progressive market. The question now is what will fall next and will they that rule what’s left of New Orleans “get the memo” and start to do the right thing?

It’s not too late…yet. But some things do carry a time limit. And because we are seeing the signs of the city reaping the fruit of crimes committed against “the least of these” somebody might want to wise up and repent, which I believe is the only way this city will avoid worse than we’ve already seen.

Please do not confuse repentance with apologies. An apology, an open acknowledgement of one’s wrongdoing, is a part of the formula of repentance, just like butter is one ingredient for a cake, but there’s more to both of these.

Real repentance involves restorative action to repair the damage that was done. For the city leaders to really engage in repentance they would have to do right by everyone who lost a home or business in Katrina/Rita. They would have to immediately drop the red tape circus and aggressively work to get everyone all of the money and aid they need to get back in their homes. They would have to restore and increase low income housing. They would have to give the educational system back to the city and provide the resources, training etc needed to make it work. They would actively go after the thousands of young people roaming the streets without a diploma or adequate reading skills and help them get the training credentials needed to get legal employment with a living wage. They would have to put a leash on abusive cops, and restore the Black hospitals.

All of the above would constitute a good-faith start. Of course, we’d also need to have an honest discussion about sharing power in the city.

How likely is any of this to happen anytime soon? Not very. The right people are not feeling enough pain just yet. But hopefully their religious leaders will let them know that the jig is up and the need to come to terms.

Otherwise the season of reaping will be unpleasant for us all. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust…”

And that’s the Hard Truth!

This article was originally published in the June 4, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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