Filed Under:  News, OpEd

Vote like you mean it

29th October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis
The Louisiana Weekly

Two New Orleans stories underscore the need for Black political and economic power.

The first involves early voting. There was a busload of elderly Black New Orleans residents who, by many accounts, were treated badly by voting officials at the eastern New Orleans warehouse where the voting machines are kept. Witnesses told this writer Tuesday morning that some of the poll workers were miffed by these elderly voters arriving before the doors had been opened and the elders were told by one of the poll workers that they hadn’t had a chance to eat breakfast yet? Breakfast. Seriously?

These elderly residents, members of the Greatest American Generation, were understandably excited about voting and staying engaged in building strong communities for their loved ones and neighbors. Why would anyone, whether they worked for the government or not, show such utter disrespect? In a word, the answer is power.

Powerful people don’t get treated like nuisances or nonfacts. Call it survival instincts or simply a fear of being put in one’s place, but the fact is the average human beings assesses a situation and conducts himself or herself accordingly.

We need to grow and organize and get strong enough politically, economically, socially and culturally to let people know that we’re no longer going to tolerate blatant disrespect, bigotry, discrimination and injustice regardless of who the violator or violators are.

It’s too bad that the biblical commandment to honor our mothers and fathers is no longer enough to get us to show our beloved elders a little love, kindness and grace.

The second story involves the struggle of a group of about 1,500 New Orleans residents to be treated and respected as human beings. This group of Lower 9th Ward residents has been in crisis mode since Hurricane Isaac visited the city on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. They occupy 425 apartment units built on the former Desire housing development that are managed the Housing Authority of New Orleans. It’s been two months since Isaac and many of these residents have had problems with their apartments prior to Isaac. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the citywide press conference? Where’s the high-brow presentation of a plan to make their homes inhabitable?

Why haven’t local elected officials, state elected officials, members of Congress, Black ministers and civil rights leaders said or done anything?

Could it be because they’re Black?

Whether you choose to vote early or on November 6, vote like your life and your children and children’s children’s lives depend on it — because they do. But only if you understand that voting is but one of the many tools we can use in our quest for freedom, justice, democracy and recognition as free human beings in this society.

There are clearly some people who need to be voted out of office and others who have presented some ideas worth considering. We need to cast our votes judiciously and remember that voting is but one of the tools at our disposal. We should take great inspiration from the example of those who fought for their freedom against the greatest of all odds like our enslaved ancestors on La Amistad and those in the River Parishes in 1811. The important thing is they never gave up.

It’s time to revisit taking our case for genocide to the United Nations and to insist on gaining our freedom by any means necessary. We don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to do what we have collectively decided we have to do to be free. All we need is a vision for where we want to go, a plan to get there, unrelenting courage and a sense of purpose.

We need power like we need clean water, air and life-sustaining food.

All power to the people.

This article originally published in the October 29, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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