What will it take?
26th March 2012 · 0 Comments
For more than 20 years a handful of activists and I have fought consistently and courageously for basic human rights in this community to little or no avail. We have fought on the education front, the juvenile justice front, the environmental justice front, etc. We have fought to end apartheid in the Orleans Parish Public School System. We have fought to end the school-to-prison pipeline and to help reduce crime in general, especially Black-on-Black crime. We have fought against domestic violence and the abuse of elders. If unsuccessful, we have fought for victims’ rights, and on many other issues too numerous to list here.
The majority of you have just sat back and watched while we have fought tooth and nail to protect your rights and those of your children, your extended family, your friends and your colleagues. And you have not lifted a finger to help. Not only have you not stood up, but you did not support the ones of us who did. Oh yes, you talked about how bad things are in the beauty and barber shops, at the bus stop, at the water cooler, in the board room, in your Section 8 apartments and your Uptown mansions. The so-called religious community is the worse. I’d like to devote an entire column to them. For now, suffice it to say that “Faith without works is DEAD!!!”
So if the Republicans have stolen our schools and aren’t educating our children, if our children are raping, assaulting, and killing themselves and others, if the police are unjustifiably murdering unarmed young Black males in their homes, you only have yourself to blame. The blood of all the innocents is on your hands. What will it take for people to rise up and say “Enough is enough”? What if all children under the age of 10 were lined up and down Canal Street and shot in the head? Would that be enough? What will it take? Haven’t we spilled enough blood? Haven’t we ruined the lives of enough children? Haven’t the old people suffered enough? What will it take? I wonder.
How many victims like Sherry Lee Singleton, Kim Groves, Lance and Ronald Madison, James Brissette, Henry Glover, Adolph Grimes, III., Justin Sipp, and Wendell Allen do we need before enough is enough? How many rogue police officers (pigs) like Gregory Neupert, Len Davis, Antionette Frank, Lt. Mike Lohrman, Sgt. Archie Kaufman, Officers Anthony Villavaso, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon, and most recently Deputy Chief Marlon Defillo, Chief Ronal Serpas and Officer Joshua Colclough continue to kill and devastate people’s lives before enough is enough?
I have been honored to be in the trenches with the likes of longtime civil rights activist Mr. Llewynn Soniat, Dyan French Cole, Assata Olugbala, Albert “Chui” Clark of MERGE and Neighborhood Unity, Karran Harper Royal, Malcolm Suber, W.C. Johnson, LEAP activists Raymond and C.C.Campbell-Rock, Professor Bill Quigley of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola Law School, Mahdi, Tracie Washington of the Louisiana Justice Institute, Derwyn Bunton formerly of the Juvenile Justice Project and presently the Chief New Orleans Public Defender, Sister Alison McCrary and Robert Goodman of Safe Streets Strong Communities, Norris Henderson of VOTE, Martha Huggins, Professor of Human Relations and Sociology Tulane University, The Madison Family family of Danziger Bridge fame, Adolph and Pat Grimes (parents of a young Black man murdered by New Orleans Police, Sandy Krasnoff and Brother Al Mims of Victims and Citizens Against Crime, Attorney Willie Zanders, Attorney Clarence Roby, Ira Thomas of the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), Cynthia Cade (OPSB), Brett Bonin (OPSB), Walter Umrani, Bishop J.D. Wiley of Life Center Cathedral Church, and Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting John Thompson, Founder and Director of Resurrection After Exoneration (RAE) and plaintiff in the case of Thompson v. Connick.
The reason we have not been able to make more headway is because of YOU!!! As long as there are just a few of us fighting, the powers that be can marginalize, criticize, seek to discredit us, arrest us, defame us, etc. They count on your apathy. Your consent is the only way this thing works for them. You don’t vote, you accept the status quo, you don’t make a ruckus, you don’t rock the boat. Many of you don’t pay attention to what’s going on. You don’t know who your school board or BESE board member is, or what the BESE board is for that matter. Oh but let there be a Saints game or a second-line. And you are right there skinning and grinning buck jumping and having fun. But people the chickens are coming home to roost. Things are only going to get worse. What does the future hold for you, New Orleans? More of the same. More murders. More rapes. More weeping and gnashing of teeth. As Malcolm X said, It’s time for mourners now. God is not mocked. Whatever a man soweth that shall he also reap. If you reap the wind you will inherit the worldwind.
Many have thanked me for the work I do on everyone’s behalf. An equal number, if not more, have criticized me for my tactics and strategies. Both infuriate me. To my so-called fans I say get involved. Let’s see your face in the place. Take a stand. Make your voice heard. Write, call, e-mail, fax, text, your elected officials and public servants. Show up at public meetings like the school board, the city council, the BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education), Being a citizen is not a spectator sport.
– Sandra “18 Wheeler” Hester
This article was originally published in the March 26, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper