"Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so."
I embrace these words from Ida B. Wells, a strong Black woman who was a journalist, newspaper editor and civil rights leader. Her words remind me that I have a God-given mandate to be a voice for the people; especially for those who are disenfranchised, abused and are the unwilling beneficiaries of injustice.
Politicians have long been staples in our community. Here recently, we have seen many of those running for office or for re-election come by and visit our church, knock on our doors, leave door-hangers, kiss our babies and shake our hands in order to get us to go to the polls and cast a vote in their favor.
Sadly, however, when it comes to educating the Black community on key issues and standing up for the Black community when their institutions are under attack, most of them disappear and are as quiet as a church mouse.
We see that being played out when it comes to the recent Houston Independent School District school closure proposal that was introduced to the Black community, yet again.
And what have we heard from most of our elected officials concerning this issue? Deafening silence! This is nothing new, but it must come to an end.
Historically, many taxpayers in the Black community treat these elected officials like they are high-profile celebrities; looking to take a picture as if they were rock stars. Black people and their constituents get out and vote, but then there is no reciprocity.
Black people make demands and tell their elected officials what they need and want, but are typically ignored by most of them.
Many of these elected officials hold community breakfasts, a fish fry or a community social event, but when the Black community really needs them to stand up and have some backbone to address their real issues, they show that they don’t really have their constituents best interest at heart. It’s as if they purposefully refuse to provide their constituents with substantive information or support, to help them become a more informed and engaged voter and citizen.
It saddens me, because as I write this article, I am looking at documents that show the plans that HISD has to close down Dodson Montessori and displace and take the properties of local residents’ under eminent domain. The properties that they have targeted are fronting on the Southwest corner of Scott and Pease streets and are for a proposed new High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice site.
Now ask yourself, would you want this to happen to your grandmother, grandfather, mother or father? Would you want the house that you have lived in for decades to be taken away from you just because HISD and the powers that be want it for their own selfish gain?
But guess what, you can stop this. You can contact all the HISD Board Trustees and any of the elected officials who have schools in their respective districts and let them know this is wrong as hell and that you aren’t going to stand for it.
I hear people saying things like they have a "strong and active" alumni and that their schools are safe. There is no school safe. I went to both Dodson Montessori and Ryan Middle, before going to Yates High School, and when I look at the treatment that Dodson and Ryan have received, what makes you think that Yates or the school in your own respective community is so safe?
It shouldn’t be a secret who you should be looking to on the HISD board to hold accountable....EVERYONE. If you sit quiet and say nothing, don’t worry, they’ll be looking to pick off your school real soon.
When I was younger, my daddy told me to stand up to bullies. Listen, I’m drawing a line in the sand and laying down the gauntlet for real!
I have been working on an elected official report card with a group of concerned citizens and organizations, and any elected official who has not gone on the record to publicly oppose this flawed excuse for school closures will appear in that report card and should be held accountable at the polls by the voters.
I am not buying this game that select Trustees and elected officials like to play, where they fail to show up for a crucial vote because of some trumped up reason. No elected official will get away with not showing up to vote on behalf of what their constituents want and deserve.
The Black community in Houston deserves to be treated like a partner in a serious relationship, rather than a fling on the side, where politicians whisper sweet nothings in our ear to get what they want; make promises in order to get our vote; close the deal; and then we don’t hear from them anymore until they need us again. The Black community will not continue to fall for the okey-doke, over and over again, because we realize the impact that these elected officials have on our livelihood, as it relates to the school board, local, county, state and federal positions. The Black community is looking for engaged politicians who want to see us empowered and equipped, not uninformed and helpless.
Elected officials are not paid Hollywood entertainers; they are public servants and many need to stop acting as if they are the latest, hot celebrity, and start acting like relevant informants and advocates for the people.
If you are an elected official, the same energy and effort that you use to get elected or re-elected, needs to be the same energy and effort that you use to educate the Black community about everything and fight for us.