Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

The Hard Truth – Peek-a-boo

25th July 2011   ·   0 Comments

By Min. J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Columnist

It’s the same code of silence that rapists and abusers try to impose on their victims. “Don’t tell anybody what I did to you or else.”

It’s the same code of silence that cops say keeps many criminals on the streets. They can’t get convictions because nobody will “rat” or testify, so the crime/criminal continues without a challenge.

They don’t like to admit it, but cops practice the same code of silence when it comes to reporting other cops who do wrong. Every good cop on the force has a commitment to protect the bad ones with their silence. So bad cops keep abusing, hurting, falsely arresting or killing people until something really bad happens and makes them all look suspect.

Silence can be deadly.

What many don’t realize is that the same code of silence used to protect abusers, criminals or bad cops is also used in politics and other areas.

At least twice a week nowadays I get a call or someone pulls me aside to tell me about some horrible racist or unjust incident they either experienced or know about. I always listen. I often ask for more information. Then I ask “What do you want to do about it?” I often get an odd response, “I don’t want to say anything about it because it could make it worse.” This is especially the case with racist offenses.

Sometimes people will come to me and say, “You ought to write about this or address that.” When I ask them why they don’t do this they usually say they fear retaliation. Well what do you think happens to me? You don’t honestly think we activists do all this hell-raising without getting smacked down by the system from time to time, do you? It’s just that most of us prefer suffering to a life lived in fear of a man or a system, especially an evil man or system.

It’s not that there aren’t racist policies and practices that happen everyday in every area of life in Louisiana. In fact the opposite is true. It’s raining racism here. \ Just as some people lie and say they don’t see color (but you can tell I’m fat?), they pretend that they don’t see racism. It’s political Peek-A-Boo, except they keep their hands over their faces. Some say they don’t address racism because “people” are tired of hearing it. If “people” get tired of hearing that fire is hot, do you change your tune about that also? Who betrays Truth because it’s not popular? What kind of person stops addressing his/her pain because the people inflicting it won’t like it? How intelligent is it to let your adversary determine how and what you will communicate or expose?

It’s so bad here that I honestly believe that if a group of white people in klan robes burned a cross at the State Capitol in broad daylight and painted swastikas on cars, most of our Black so-called leaders would be falling over each other declaring, “It’s not racially motivated.”

Silence is not golden when injustice rears its ugly head. In fact the silence of so-called leaders that keeps the system going. No one stops abusing you because you cooperate. Frederick Douglass said that power concedes nothing without a demand. It’s still true today.

What can we do? Three things come to mind.

First we need to pray for our leaders to gain the courage and integrity to stand for the people they represent…or be removed.

Second we need to hold leaders accountable. If you live in Louisiana and have seen a religious, business, political or civic leader who has never taken a stand, you have seen a coward and a sellout. Refuse to support them with your vote, money or attention. At the same time we really need to support and encourage those who do show some guts.

Third, we also need to replace useless leaders. Those who betray our interests for fear or for pay need to lose their positions. But most importantly we have to train up a new wave of committed leaders of all ages who have the vision, wisdom, compassion, integrity and courage to move our people forward in spite of a hostile environment.

James Brown said “We’d rather die on our feet than live on our knees.” Too many of our leaders today sing a very different tune. But some of us honestly believe that the Creator really is greater than any racist system or individual. If that’s not true then we’re worshipping the wrong god and need to get real…

…And that’s the Hard Truth!

This article was originally published in the July 25, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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