Opinion: Baton Rouge is the “Fakest” city in the United States of America

Opinion: Baton Rouge is the “Fakest” city in the United States of America

When you read the headline it compelled you to click the article because a part of you believe this is true. I have lived in Baton Rouge my entire life and I have seen first-hand how politics have destroyed the very fabric of our community. It amazes me how hard it is to get decent neighborhood schools, grocery stores, hospitals, and any other standard quality of life in the urban community, especially, when we are all tax paying citizens. Many people suggest that Florida Blvd divides the city between the haves and have-nots, in which one part of the city has it ALL and the other side barely has the basic needs for survival. I guess those people were right, our city is truly divided.

When I grew up, I witnessed a community that understood if one person leaves the neighborhood and becomes successful than someone could come back and help others get out. I remembered when it took a village to raise children but now all we have is grandparents raising grandchildren. I remember when my mother used to take me and my brothers to church because she wanted us to be grounded on truthful principles. My mother was a single parent of 3 and I never saw her complain and she always made sure we understood the importance of education. I would never forget every Sunday after church we would go to the local washateria in Scotlandville and I would see businesses owned by people who looked like me, which encouraged me to one day start my own business. Now the same community that was once thriving is now on life support fighting every day to stay alive.

When I decided to accept my calling from God to fight for my community and speak up for the voiceless, I had no idea that some of the leaders who looked like me didn’t have the same agenda. I have witnessed black elected officials purposely oppose each other because of petty differences and years of old “beef” that they simply won’t let go. So, I asked myself, how can we get better when the leaders we’ve elected can’t get along with each other. I have witnessed black elected officials drag each other in the mud on tv while their counterparts are steadily conducting business and enriching the community that they represent. So why would I be upset with them, when they are doing exactly what they were elected to do, which is, represent their community.  The black race makes up over 51% of Baton Rouge’s population but less than 3% of contracts go to black businesses in this community. Why?  Why is there such a large disparity of city contracts between black and white men? The contracts that are given to black businesses are pennies on the dollar compared to the millions that their counterparts are receiving. Why are we still talking about fair equity in 2018? We have schools like Baton Rouge High and Lee High that have been rebuilt, meanwhile, we (black community) have to beg for some of the oldest predominantly black schools like Glen Oaks and McKinley High School to be rebuilt.

Our city moves on a “who you know system” and not a “what do you know” system. Recently, I applied at numerous of agencies headed by black executives and elected officials to see if my credentials alone would get me the job and I was amazed that I received the “run around”  especially when they said they wanted to hire me, so I asked myself why? Why keep telling folks you admire what they do in the community and never give them an opportunity to help their community. I mean I have multiple degrees and a proven track record in business so why was I denied a job, that question is still UNANSWERED! Many millennials like myself were promised a fair opportunity to sit at the table of democracy and fair equity and it still hasn’t happened, so were we lied to?

The black community was so excited when Obama was elected because finally someone who looked like us was headed to the white house, which meant we had someone who could relate and address our immediate concerns, but for some reason, our community hasn’t changed, WHY? It hasn’t changed because folks such as our Governor, State Senators, State Representatives,  Mayor, City Councilmen, and Schoolboard members are the ones making decisions that affect our normal day-to-day lives. If our communities would show up to local elections like we did when Obama was elected then we could change our leadership to those who have the skill sets to do the job and the fortitude to stand against injustices. So yes, I am saying we are electing good people at heart but unfortunately they all do not have the proper skill set to change our current situation. This might sound harsh but the truth is the truth. So to put it in perspective, I am not a nurse so trying to talk about nursing wouldn’t be a productive conversation, so my impact would be very limited. Our community has to demand more because we deserve so much more! Wait a minute!! Wait!  When I think about it, in 2004 the black community did show up in great numbers to support our first elected black Mayor and 12 years later we still have nothing to show for it. So does color really change our outcome?

I won’t completely blame the failures of our community on the political leaders because we do have some awesome leaders who give everything they have to help. So let me switch gears on some of our community members. We have to do a better job of reducing the shooting and killing of each other. We have to start appreciating the opinions of others and working out our differences in a peaceful way. We have to stop blaming every bad decision we make on white people and accept responsibility for our own actions. We have so many battles to fight such as injustices in the world, fair equity, equal work for equal pay, and millions of other important topics. So let us focus more on more important topics and less of what we create on the accounts of our own bad decisions. There is a lot of work that we could do together.

Everything I read on social media isn’t always real and neither are the people.  There is really a deep envious and jealous spirit within people who are fighting for the same thing. It is like pulling teeth to get everyone to work together without someone’s ego overshadowing the goal. We have some political officials, pastors, and community activists who won’t open their mouth when something bad happens in our community but will stand united for meaningless things when it’s politically advantageous to them. Should I give an example? hahahahaha!!! Nope, I won’t give an example because if you live here you already know the people I am talking about.

Our communities are so broken that we are all looking for HOPE just to get from day-to-day and we have pastors who take advantage of that vulnerability and exploit our people. So it is very difficult for the pastors who are doing it the right way to get their message across. I am not saying this should be a reason not to attend church but I am saying I understand why people don’t attend, especially when the only person that is being blessed is the pastor. I have always wondered why pastors would put 5 and 6 churches on the same street in the areas that have the most crime. I haven’t quite figured that out yet, just seems like some legalize exploitation,  I am just saying!!

So the question remains, Why don’t millennials vote?, but before I explain why, I should inform you of what ages are considered to be the millennial generation. According to the Pew Research Center,  Millennials are those ages 18-33. So if you are in this age group than, yep, you are a millennial and you make up a large percentage of active voters. So we all have a responsibility to hold those who represent and live in our community accountable. So back to my original question, why don’t we vote? It’s quite simple!! It’s because nothing changes when we give our opinion!

 

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