Racism in America is institutional. The nation’s legal, business, civic and social constructs and the policies, practices, programs that give them teeth were designed to disenfranchise, marginalize, and undermine Black Americans and other communities of color.
The world’s latest crisis, COVID-19, has laid bare just how deep these disparities are and the ways they impact our communities. African Americans across the nation are overrepresented in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. They are hit harder by the economic impact of the pandemic as well.
Here in Louisiana, where Black folk are roughly 33 percent of the population, they are about 60 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths.
We already knew that when White America catches a cold, we get the pneumonia. Now we know that when the rest of America battles COVID-19, we battle COVID-19 . . . on steroids—with the disease hitting and hurting us much harder.
We’re not sure how many times this needs to be repeated for it to resonate and propel action. But we are tired of talking about it. We want solutions. Here at The New Orleans Tribune, we are always looking for the silver lining. And in the case of COVID-19’s disastrous impact, the silver lining is the lesson that can be learned from the manner in which inequity has shown itself amid this pandemic and how those lessons can be used to reshape the institutions, policies and practices that shape our lives.
To that end, there are three key areas that we say government and business interests along with healthcare systems must give immediate attention and action. This is not an exhaustive list of inequities as there are many others, but these are a start—three of the most pressing issues that require critical attention:
Address healthcare disparities that result in negative outcomes for Black Americans
Address economic disparities, wage disparities, living wages, and sick leave
Strengthen small and Black-owned businesses, by providing targeted assistance, contract opportunities and capacity building programs
As the Centers for Disease Control notes in a report on COVID-19 and race, “The conditions in which people live, learn, work, and play contribute to their health. These conditions, over time, lead to different levels of health risks, needs, and outcomes among some people in certain racial and ethnic minority groups.”
In response to COVID-19, The CDC offers guidance on addressing healthcare disparities that impact outcomes for minority communities. That guidance must become a mandate and it ought to apply generally, not just to COVID-19 response, we say.
Healthcare systems and healthcare providers must implement protocols and quality improvement initiatives, especially in facilities that serve large minority populations, that identify and address the implicit biases that hinder patient-provider interactions and communication.
They must work with communities and healthcare professional organizations to reduce cultural barriers to care. They must connect patients with community resources that can help older adults and people with underlying conditions adhere to care plans, such as assistance getting extra supplies and medications they need and reminders for them to take their medicines. Poor Americans should not have to choose between this month’s allocation of some needed medicine and this month’s food bill or electric bill. More importantly, the healthcare system is obligated to promote a trusting relationship by encouraging patients to call and ask questions and by teaching healthcare providers to listen to their patients’ concerns, to understand them and to address them professionally and compassionately.
Access to healthcare must be also increased. Cost cannot be a barrier. According to the CDC, compared to Whites, Hispanics are almost three times as likely to be uninsured, and African Americans are almost twice as likely to be uninsured. In all age groups, Blacks were more likely than Whites to report not being able to see a doctor in the past year because of cost. Universal healthcare must be a top priority as the 2020 presidential election nears.
Moreover, the nation’s education system from pre-K to college, in conjunction with the entire healthcare system must do more to address the lack of Black doctors. Today, only four percent of the nation’s practicing physicians are African-American. Barriers such as the cost of medical school must be mitigated. And improving educational opportunities at both secondary education and in all institutions of higher learning to prepare African American students for success in medical school must be accomplished. That means that K-12 schools which serve the nation’s most disenfranchised communities must get more support and more resources. According to one study, only 57 percent of Black students have access to the full range of math and science courses necessary for college readiness, compared to 81 percent of Asian American students and 71 percent of white students.
Additionally, HBCUs must also be strengthened and supported because while they make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities, they enroll 10 percent of all African American students and produce almost 20 percent of all African American graduates, according to the United Negro College Fund. These institutions have been and still are major players in the success of Black college students in America. The resources they receive must reflect their importance to our communities.
Addressing Economic Inequity
While essential workers are being lauded for their dedication amid the pandemic, their pay rarely reflects their true value to society. In additions to medical workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, fast food and other restaurant employees have remained on the frontlines.
Economic and wage inequity did not begin with COVID-19. The numbers are staggering and longstanding. For example, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as Whites. In 2017 the Black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, but it is still roughly twice the White unemployment rate. In 2016, the median African American family had only 10.2 percent of the wealth of the median White family ($17,409 versus $171,000).
And the racial wealth gap is only fueled by wage inequity, with the biggest pay gap existing for Black women, who account for 30 percent of all female-headed families in the U.S. They have a median income of $18,244 annually, while families headed by white males (no wife present) have a median income of $39,240. And the data indicates that education is no cure-all when it comes to addressing wage gaps. Among full-time, year-round workers, Black women with bachelors’ degrees make only $1,545 more per year than white males who have only completed high school.
In other words, this issue is systemic, but the answer is simple. Across industries and job classifications, all American workers regardless of race and gender must be paid equitably—the same money for the same job without exception.
COVID-19 has exacerbated already inequitable wage conditions. Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and Black or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs compared to 16 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Hispanic workers account for 17 percent of total employment but constitute 53 percent of agricultural workers; African Americans make up 12 percent of all employed workers, but account for 30 percent of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.
All American workers need a paid sick leave. The CDC notes that workers without paid sick leave might be more likely to continue to work even when they are sick for any reason, increasing the chances that they can be exposed to or expose others to COVID-19 or the next pandemic disease.
As businesses struggle, much is also being made of the soaring unemployment numbers. In the best of circumstance, Black America is disparately impacted by unemployment.
But a new twist to the unemployment issue has emerged because of COVID. There is now concern that businesses may struggle to rehire workers as they reopen because they just will not be able to compete with the enhanced unemployment benefits, bolstered by the $600 per week pandemic unemployment compensation. Businesses lament that they just will not be able to compete with the current unemployment benefits. And state and federal governments have threatened that if businesses report that an employee refuses to return to work, those benefits will be discontinued.
To that we say that leaders should worry far less about whether employees will return to work while enhanced benefits are being paid and concentrate on why some Americans may be faring better on unemployment.
In Louisiana, the full unemployment compensation is $247 a week. Without the $600 weekly boost, that is less than $1000 a month. No one can support a family, pay rent, utilities, buy groceries or meet other financial obligations with $988 a month. It’s nearly impossible to do so with even double that amount. Yet many hard working, low-wage earning families across our city, state and nation are expected to do that every day of the year. Note to Congress, if folk cannot survive off $1000 a month during a pandemic, then what makes you think they can survive off meager wages any other time.
Too many Americans were not earning the money they needed to support themselves and their families before the crisis. In short, the time for a boost to the federal minimum wage and the need to implement a living wage for all Americans is long overdue.
Strengthening Black Businesses
According to a report from the McKinsey Institute that was released in April, Black-owned businesses are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Some 40 percent of revenues from Black-owned businesses are in the top five most vulnerable sectors, including retail, leisure, and hospitality. Compared to other businesses nationwide, just 25 percent of revenues are affected, the report says.
To know that many small, Black-owned businesses have been shut out of the PPP program because they don’t have “relationships” with banks is disturbing. Such a scenario should have never been allowed to happen. Too much discretion was left in the hands of banks and bankers, when the program should have specifically targeted the businesses that were most in need of assistance. Since the initial round of PPP was released, a second round has been made available. And while funding targeted to these institutions have increased in the second round of PPP loan, they still pale in comparison to the total PPP dollars loaned to businesses across the country.
By mid-May, more than 5500 financial institutions have made nearly 4.4 million loans for a total of more than $512 billion in PPP loans, with the average loan size of $166,604. But when the data for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions are examined, the inequity is evident. CDFIs and MDSs exist to economically empower America’s underserved and distressed communities—ostensibly the very communities hardest hit by COVID-19. Yet, as of mid-May barely 400 CDFIs and MDIs have dispersed 173,627 PPP loans for a total of about $15.5 billion. In other words, CDFIs and MDIs are only 7.2 percent of institutions making PPP loans. The $15.5 billion in PPP loans represents only three percent of all loans made
Our leaders are elected to protect us, work for us, fight for us. Moreover, financial institutions must do more to encourage and build these relationships now and in ongoing efforts if they will use them as a requirement to disburse federal dollars meant to shore of these businesses. Without that effort, small Black-owned businesses will never be able to compete with multi-billion dollar corporations and other big businesses.
As New York-based journalist J. Cunningham noted in a recent column, Black business are concerned that they will be decimated without targeted assistance.
“They need grants and loans on a hyper-local level that will help Black business owners with their immediate bills and keep them from having to furlough, fire, or cut the pay of employees.
They also need access to local, state and federal government contracts – and specifically, a “master contract” where the government awards money to a nonprofit, community-based partner, and that entity, in turn, identifies Black businesses to fulfill the contract, according to a white paper from the Black Business Empowerment Committee, a group of business owners, houses of worship and community groups committed to growing and sustaining Black-owned businesses.
And again, these solutions must extend beyond COVID-19. It must become standard policy of government agencies and financial institutions to ensure that Black owned businesses receive targeted attention in programs designed to aid, low-interest loans, and contract opportunities. Government must be committed to administering programs that focus on helping Black-owned business build capacity and competing on a leveled playing field.
Black men kill each other at alarming rates all across America every day. Nearly every city’s daily news casts reports, “Today in our city three (or thirty depending on the size of your city) men were shot and killed in three (or thirty) separate shootings. Police have no suspects in any of the cases.” And immediately and innately you know that the people killed were black and the killers were black. This has been going on for the last 30-40 years and no end is in sight. New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates nationally. Why do black men kill each other?
First Let’s Dispel a
First thing you have to know is that 99.999% of black men do
not commit murder ever in their lives.
That is a fact! This is not a
black man issue. There is nothing
genetically or intrinsically wrong with black men. But the fact remains that
daily hundreds of black men across this country are murdered everyday by
another black man. Why does this happen
with this subset?
Common factors to Black
men murdering other black men
The first thing about murder is that people usually kill
people who are similar to them in many ways, particularly race. White men normally murder other white men and
black men normally murder other black men.
In the black community, these killings are normally city events. Rarely do you hear of a drive by in the country. Most of these daily killings occur on the city streets. People kill others who they interact with.
Young men engage in risky and violent behavior. Most of the men dying on our streets are
between the ages of 17-35.
But these are often cited, unsurprising factors. More salient is what goes into the psyche of a guy who can look into the eyes of another man and pull the trigger at close range or jab a knife with the intent to murder another man? What are the other factors that contribute to becoming a murderer? Why do Black men kill each other
The guy who ain’t never scared and always looking to
escalate a situation. Down for whatever. Nothing to live for and anticipating the day
he will either kill or be killed. This
mindset is cultivated in a limited option, few chances, success deprived
life. This guy has had a number of
arguments and fist fights throughout his life.
He hates authority and frequently feels angry or resentful towards
people. He often seeks to overcome a
feeling of powerlessness. This guy is a
walking heap of rage. He is always nothing
but a gun and an argument away from murder.
The Disrespected Man
A man who feels like everybody but him gets respect.
Unemployed or stuck in a low wage hard work job
where his contributions are unrecognized
Lives with his mother and has little control over
his home environment
Has a child but no custody and a bad relationship
with his baby mama
Been profiled and harassed by the police
Observes community members driving nice cars
Rejected for better jobs
Feels unable to change his life status and is
insignificant in the world
Seeks to overcome feelings of impotence
For this guy, respect is everything and options to express
anger or refutation are often limited. He
often seeks to overcome a feeling of impotence. If another who seems unworthy
of disseminating criticism or scorn or generally crosses the line of imagined
respect, then a high level of response will be meted out.
Little life happiness
Thrill seeker often brags and talks about his toughness and ‘hood status.
Wants to make a real name for himself
Will recklessly escalate a situation or
When challenged by a non-believing skeptic, this man often
acts in unnecessarily violent ways in unnecessarily violent situations. Often seeks to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.
Too often black men suffer an inferiority
vilifies and criminalizes black men on a daily basis.
American culture is based upon the notion that
black people and specifically black men are less intelligent, completely
unpredictable, beast like, lazy etc., etc.
Black men internalize this notion and are
conditioned to see little value when they look in the mirror.
Beset by internal angst and torment.
Unresolved pain combined with poverty,
ignorance, oppression, violent police, violent neighborhoods, etc.
symptoms of an inferiority complex include a high sensitivity to criticism, perceiving
others as a threat, jealousy, a lack of dreams.
The daily feeling of isolation, powerlessness and impotence is like being a prisoner of war. One reason black men grab their genitals is to stress their vitality. Men who have been literally stripped of the ability to display their manhood – great jobs, big houses, educational attainment and all the other accoutrements of modern society- are literally killing to express their power in life. Twisted but true.
By Pat Bryant*
Six University of Florida students at two colleges have been arrested on multiple charges for protesting Florida’s draconian laws that are the tip of rising fascism in the United States . The arrests, in a few days of each other, were made first at University of South Florida at the university’s administration building where President Rhea Law’s office is located. Placards were carried and demands on flyers that called on Governor Ron DeSantis to stop his repressive regime news and encouragement he is spreading nationwide.
Police swopped in without warning grabbing students and making arrests caught on video. Asked about police violence, and arrests of students, Governor DeSantis’ press secretary has not responded. Students have since protested the arrests and demanded that Police Chief Chris Daniel be fired. Daniel is seen in the video pushing a female student in the back and twisting her arm.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
The arrests were happening as Governor DeSantis traveled across the nation claiming that people are freer in Florida than elsewhere in the United States. DeSantis rallies against “wokeness” or a worldview that racial and sexual disparaties are the result of racism, sexism and class exploitation. And DeSantis wants no program to correct longstanding inequities that result from slavery, racism and sexual discrimination.
On March 6 a few dozens students protested DeSantis’ attacks on affirmative action, black history, diversity programs and the lack of well-being of black students on the Tampa campus. They rallied outside the Marshall student Center, heard speeches, and marched to the Patel administration building. Inside the building police began grabbing students without notice as speakers spoke on demands.
Several videos of the arrest support the students version of being attacked by police.
DeSantis drew CNN headlines that day, not about crackdown on student rights to redress demands to the government protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, but CNN said of DeSantis “he is willing to go much further than any other Republican leader to turn his state into a conservative vision.”
That’s an opposite vision of the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). “We are focused on creating an environment where black students could succeed without worry of financial or lack of resources and feel safe”, one student wrote adding demands for increase in Black faculty, increase Black mental health counselors and demilitarize campus, more and greater scholarships for black students, and greater black high school recruitment.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
DeSantis about the same time issued an executive order 19-10 ending all diversity and inclusion programs at state universities and setting forth hiring, promotion, recruiting only on competitive basis.
Four days later two University of Florida at Gainesville students were arrested by campus police for leading a demonstration and charged with felonies. Bryan Taylor was arrested for aggravated assault on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. Ian Dinkla was charged with robbery by sudden sudden snatching and resisting with violence. The students and observers denied the violence claims.
The university followed up accusing students of violence against police saying “everyone regardless of their views—can exercise their First Amendment rights on this campus, and nobody has a right to violence” said a spokesman. He continued “violent behavior and resisting arrest are unacceptable” he said. The arrest came after a presentation by anti-abortion group “Created Equal” a traveling campus organizing tour. The group set up large signs of abortion fetuses. Police claims Dinkla took one of the signs they claim is worth $120. Felony response to a childish prank.
Protecting freedoms and right to protest is not what is happening in Florida. Since DeSantis’ election Florida has moved quickly toward totalitarianism – where one man has all power. DeSantis has made 140 executive orders like the one banning diversity 140. DeSantis’ executive orders are more than all other governors in other states combined. Florida is the tip of rising fascism in the United States.
DeSantis Fascists Policies and Florida Student Arrests
A solid Republican majority in the legislature is set to pass a law that makes abortion illegal after 6 weeks. Another would ban courses and curricula in Florida colleges. Courses included teach ethnic, women’s studies, gender studies or courses “based on unproven, theoretical or exploratory content”. And another would allow permitless carry of concealed firearms. Another would require bloggers to register with the state. The Florida legislature is poised to pass them all.
Two camps seem to be forming in Florida. One that holds state power, and another shocked and awed by DeSantis’ and Republican performances. The show will soon be brought everyplace in America.
A new Ipsos poll suggests that DeSantis rallying on “wokeness” may backfire. The poll suggests that 56 percent of Americans and 39 percent of Republicans agree of “wokeness” as positive.
*Pat Bryant is a journalist covering the South
NOLA politics disrupted!
New Orleans politics is being disrupted. You know what disruption is right? By definition, it is an interruption to the regular flow or sequence of something. Think Uber vs. cabs. In New Orleans political circles, political insiders are bristling at a sudden shift. New power brokers are taking space. They are getting candidates elected. They are running aggressive and new style campaigns. But most of all, they got money! In particular, the African American political class is up in arms. This is war. And it is happening right before our very eyes. Not exactly sure what I’m talking about. Don’t worry. After you read this, you’ll be able to get your popcorn and watch too. It’s juicy and thrilling.
The bad new dudes in town really aren’t new. They are just shifting into new territory. With lots of cash, brash ideas about change and a couple of big wins under their belts, these guys are emboldened. Just in this current cycle they are creating havoc. And this is a relatively minor political season. But they have stopped one candidate from even campaigning. And they are changing the polling in a judgeship that once seemed all but won.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
And the people behind all this turmoil are ex-cons. But gulp, they are actual murderers. You read that right. Norris Henderson and Bruce Reilly are the leaders of VOTE. They started and worked for years in New Orleans as advocates for formerly incarcerated men and women. And they also worked early on helping candidates for office who worked with them. They registered formerly incarcerated men and women to vote and encouraged them to vote for candidates whom they viewed as political allies. Politicians didn’t really take them seriously but occasionally supported their organization in hopes that they could deliver a few votes.
But the whole time, the strategic Henderson made better contacts and learned the ropes. He advocated for prisoners rights and railed constantly against former sheriff, Marlon Gusman. He became a Soros Justice Fellow. But his earliest attempts to elect judges failed miserably. He spent hundreds of thousands with a flip the bench group of candidates, but almost all lost by wide margins. But steadfast and well financed, Henderson pushed forward. And suddenly victory was his. His greatest triumph so far has been the ouster of Gusman. Henderson bankrolled current sheriff Susan Hutson’s campaign. Also, Henderson helped current Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis get elected. Now Henderson and Reilly seem to see themselves as kingmakers.
In the District A Criminal Court Race, Diedre Pierce Kelly took the early lead over her two opponents – Simone Levine and Leon Roche. Besides my own endorsement, Ms. Kelly has the endorsement of nearly every elected official in town. Early polling showed her winning going away. But you have probably seen Leon Roche commercials on TV lately. You guessed it. Henderson formed a second VOTE nonprofit. Not only can his 501c4 endorse candidates, but it also transforms campaigns. Mr. Roche is a fine and upstanding young man. After all he graduated from the nationally acclaimed St. Augustine High School. But his candidacy catapulted from grassroots to serious contender status suddenly. And Simone Levine is likely to earn a runoff spot if Roche peels off enough votes from Kelly. The race is now a tossup. Disruption.
District 93 House Seat
The disruption is greatest in this race, however. This is one of the most historic and influential House seats in the city. (Will Sutton wrote a great piece about it.) Sibil “Fox” Richardson is in the runoff against Alonzo Knox. But in an unprecedented and befuddling move, Fox Rich suspended her campaign against Knox and fiercely attacked Henderson and Reilly. In a merciless article posted by Big Easy Magazine, Richardson says :
“VOTE is led by two convicted murderers- Bruce Reilly who beat and stabbed a famed college professor 24 times to his death and fled with his vehicle and credit card – And, Norris Henderson, who along with his brother gunned down a teenager riding her bike to school. I challenge each of them to look in the mirror and reflect on the severity of their crimes before misrepresenting my past in an effort to forward their own political agenda. If an uncheckered past is the litmus test for leadership, then surely these two men and their organization should be the least in authority to offer political recommendations.”
Fox Rich Candidate for House District 93
Additionally, Richardson says she will not participate in any more campaign debates. The voters must decide if this is the best thing to do this late in the campaign. More disruption.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
Politics is not for the faint at heart. Henderson and Reilly are playing hard ball. But the political establishment is on notice now. While Henderson and Reilly have money and a couple of big wins under their belts, the powers that be are coalescing. Uptown and downtown. East bank and Westbank. Black and white power brokers have not only taken notice but are now working together to beat back the VOTE political brokers. It’s easy when you can launch sneak attacks. Heretofore Henderson and Reilly have worked behind the scenes. But the curtain has been pulled back.
Still the verdict is not in yet on Henderson and Reilly. Once the spotlight is on them, several key factors become evident. Their big money donors are liberal. And after the donors realize their money is not buying ads to attack people like Jeff Landry or John Kennedy, but liberal qualified African American women the cash might stop. Every time Henderson misses his options become fewer. Will he be able to attract candidates to run for office? The problem for candidates like Knox and Roche and others in the future is voter sensitivity. Remember when Sherman Copelin was the favorite boogeyman in New Orleans politics? Cynthia Willard Lewis lost a closely contested race for city council at large when Jackie Clarkson accused her of being supported by Copelin. Say what you want about Sherman, but he ain’t got nothing on Henderson and Reilly. So far, Henderson and Reilly have been able to hide behind the scenes. But if they want to be true prime time political players, they are going to have to come out of the back rooms. What happens then?
When this short election cycle is over, the political establishment will put them on front street. Will future candidates be comfortable saying I’m proudly endorsed by VOTE?
Can a couple of ex-con murderers really become the new face of politics in New Orleans? Or even major players? They entered the fray quickly and fiercely. And they represent and lead a loyal block of formerly incarcerated people whom they help and guide. And they have the experience and money to continue to push candidates they like. Is this a sustainable movement? Or will Fox Rich’s stinging words resonate with the voters of New Orleans. Our first test will be the two races we examined. We will see on March 25th. Get your popcorn ready.
NOLA Politics Disrupted
Good things are coming to the East, finally. The long vacant Six Flags site is officially set to become Bayou Phoenix. As planned, Bayou Phoenix is set to become an amusement park and transportation hub that should bring economic development to the East and city in general.
Think 504 recently sat down with Troy Henry, the man behind Bayou Phoenix, to see what people can expect now that the city has signed off on the deal.
So what’s next now that you finally got the go ahead for Bayou Phoenix?
The next thing is we have a public meeting on the 27th of March at Franklin Ave Baptist Church. You know, it’s a public meeting to get public input.
Wait, that’s in the East, right, not actually on Franklin?
Yeah that’s right. And it’s the first of 3 things we have to do to finalize the lease.
And that’s on behalf of the city?
Correct. Like I said, it’s the first of three things. One is to produce an economic impact analysis, which we’ve already done. We just haven’t presented it yet. The second is a master plan, which is done as well. And the third is to have a public meeting where we collect public input. That’s the purpose of the upcoming meeting.
After you fulfill the three requirements, how long do you think it will take to have Bayou Phoenix up and running?
Well, so our time frame is a 42 month schedule. We think we can have our development done in that time frame. And that’s, you know, from the day we sign the lease.
Hold up, 3 ½ years? You telling me I gotta wait 3 ½ years to tell my wife, hey let’s go to Bayou Phoenix and make out on the Ferris wheel?
(Laughs) Hey, brother, good things take time, you know, good things take time, you know what I mean. Some of it will be completed perhaps sooner. But we’re not making any promises at all on that piece.
I’m sure somebody has asked you this before, or maybe they haven’t, but what made you pick Phoenix as the name?
Well you know it was just one of my colleagues, from our partners, he thought that just the rising after all these years. He was thinking of something positive rising out of the bayou.
That’s fitting, considering the development in the East, and also how long it’s not only taken to get the deal done, but how long the site has sat vacant.
Yeah, it took a lot longer than we ever imagined, but no sense in looking back. We’re just —
Focusing on the positive —
Yeah, that’s right. But, you know, who knows if we’ll even keep that name. In fact, we’ll ask people if they think there’s a better name.
Really? So that’s something you’ll bring up at the meeting?
I think so. If there’s something somebody comes up with that’s better for it, you know, a perfect fit, then cool. We’re open to suggestions.
At the meeting will there be some type of visual presentation so people can get a feel for what’s coming?
Definitely. It’s going to be a highly visual presentation. You’ll visually be able to see the entire project, the renderings. At the meeting, I think the public will get a chance to see exactly what Bayou Phoenix is going to look like.
Oh alright, that sounds cool.
Yeah, I think it’s going to be pretty cool.
Did the city make any demands on y’all, as far as a minimum wage and things like that?
Yeah, we have a wage requirement and a non discrimination requirement, you know, those kinds of items.
Standard process I guess?
Yeah, nothing we felt that was difficult to deal with. And it was nothing we wouldn’t have done anyway. So agreeing to that wasn’t a big deal. For our people we view this as a career opportunity, not, you know, just some type of means to an end.
Well that sounds like just what the East and really the city overall needs. I’m sure you’re excited, and it sounds like this thing is really about to take off.
It is. And yeah, we’re excited. We’re looking forward to going full speed ahead and getting everything done. It’s going to be a great process.
It sounds like Mr. Henry and his partners have something really special planned for the East. With all that’s going on in the city, this is a story to feel good about. So, mark the date on your calendars. March 27th, next Monday. That’s the meeting where you the public can show up and give your input. Who knows, you may be the one to give the park its official name.
Kissing and making up is closer than you think, even after the worst arguments.
By Mark Travers Ph.D.
How couples manage arguments can either strain or strengthen their relationship.
It’s crucial to take responsibility for one’s role in a conflict and listen carefully to the other person’s perspective.
Small gestures can make a big difference in reconnecting with a partner after a disagreement.
Disagreements and arguments, although uncomfortable, are a natural and even important part of any relationship. These are the rare times when you and your partner can openly voice conflicting ideas, speaking directly from the heart. Without such opportunities, relationship progress can be stunted. And a surface-level emotional bond can take the place of what could be a much deeper connection.
The strength of a relationship is measured less by the two partners’ ability to avoid arguments and more by how they emerge as a couple after a conflict. Think of it like a controlled fire—the short-term damage allows for a healthier long-term ecosystem.
Here are three things to do to reconnect and recover after an argument with your partner.
1. Have the reconciliation talk.
After the screaming, stonewalling, and/or criticizing subsides, take some time to process your experience with your partner to prevent yourself from fighting about the same thing in the future. You probably don’t want to do this right after the fight. Give it some time, perhaps a few hours or even a day or two, to let the nerves settle.
Make sure you take responsibility for your role in the argument. Focus on finding a compromise instead of a victory.
A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples that focused on actively repairing their relationship and gaining new perspectives had an easier time regaining their intimacy than couples who either avoided talking about the fight or simply let it go.
Here are a few steps you can follow to process the argument in a healthy way:
Listen to their story and how they felt about the situation. How do they feel about their response to the situation and your response to it?
Acknowledge your role in the conflict. How did you contribute to the creation and escalation of the conflict?
Plan for more effective ways to communicate with one another to avoid similar conflicts in the future.
Remember: Fighting about the same thing again and again is never a good sign. (In such cases, couples’ therapy may be warranted.) New arguments that bring fresh resolutions, however, can be healthy and constructive for the relationship.
2. Find comfort.
Arguments with your partner can leave you feeling distant or disturbed. To rekindle the affection, go back to the basics and revisit the foundation of your relationship. Embrace the things that you enjoy about your partner by expressing verbally and physically what attracts you to them.
It may surprise you how much of a difference a simple gesture like a hug, an expression of gratitude, or a request to spend time together can make. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships suggests, not surprisingly, that those partners who give and receive affectionate touch from each other on a regular basis are happier and report higher relationship satisfaction.
The idea is to bring back the familiarity of the intimate space that you shared with your partner, which was temporarily lost during the conflict. Your time together post-fight can feel even more special once both of you have repaired the crack in the relationship together.
3. Share laughter.
Spending quality time together trying out new activities, especially ones that invoke laughter, can deepen your bond. An article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science explains how sharing laughter is associated with feelings of safety and closeness in a relationship.
Laughing at the same thing reinforces the notion that you and your partner share a similar outlook on the world and, hence, adds depth to your experiences. Getting in touch with your inner child—painting, playing games, spending time at the arcade, etc.—can help you and your partner connect in a fun yet meaningful way.
Reminding yourself and your partner that you can still have fun together is reassuring and can help you put rough patches in perspective.
Anxiety and depression are two different disorders which run along similar lines. These share many common features. But it is highly important to distinguish one from the other, especially for the therapeutic purposes. The main difference between anxiety and depression is their symptoms. A person suffering from anxiety will feel apprehensive about one’s future and will have worried thoughts. Whereas a person suffering from depression will feel hopeless about the future and will imagine worst case scenarios. Depression can occur in a person following an attack of anxiety. This is the main reason why these two conditions are difficult to be identified clearly in an affected person.
What is Anxiety
Anxiety is usually characterized by doubtful and vulnerable thoughts about future events, which have not happened yet. People suffering from this condition are extremely worried about their future goals and targets, and they fear that they will ultimately become a failure. Affected people will complain of anxious thoughts involving various life events, unexplainable physical sensations, and self-guarding behavioral patterns. One of the hardest things for anxious people to do is, explaining what they are going through and what they are feeling to others, which is a good catch- up line for psychiatrists in making the diagnosis.
What is Depression
People who are depressed do not show the same fear and doubtful thoughts about their future like those who are with anxiety. Instead, they are certain that their future is going to be disastrous. They highly believe in their own perceptions about horrible things which are going to take place in the future. Depressed people are often sad, have no interest in enjoying things they used to enjoy before, feel hopeless and lonely, have difficulty in concentrating, and suffer from sleepless nights, sleepy day times or change in the sleep pattern, experience unexplained physical aches, change in appetite and feelings of death and suicide.
Moreover, depressed people often think that it is not worth to try to get over a bad future. They have taken the negative thoughts into their heads in such a severe manner, that there is no choice left for them rather than facing the disastrous future or committing suicide.
Difference Between Anxiety and Depression
The best way to differentiate anxiety and depression from one another includes the careful observation of the behavior of the affected people and listening to their feelings and experiences.
Behavior and Feelings
Anxiety: Anxious people will be uncertain about things which might happen, develop fearful sensations and start worrying about them. These disturbing thoughts will give rise to feelings of escaping or avoiding certain things, just to get rid of further anxiety.
Depression: Depressed people ‘know’ that their future is going to be disastrous; they picture their future with worst possible scenarios that can happen. As a result, they become hopeless with no positive beliefs about life. They tend to think over and over again about these imagined negative life events, and ultimately reach a point which carries the thought of escaping from life; suicide.
Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety:Anxiety can be early symptoms of depression.
Depression:Depression can occur in a person following an attack of anxiety since they might feel hopeless and drained after dreadful thoughts about a bad future.
Anxiety:Bodily symptoms will occur only after an intense attack.
Depression: A depressed person may not need a huge trigger to develop characteristic physical changes.
Bodily Symptoms and Responses
Anxiety:A person with an attack of anxiety will often show a flight or fight response which includes shaking, sweating, raced heartbeat, flushing, bowel needs (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea), hyperventilation and the need to run. Their bodies will often look tense and rigid. Also, they might get the symptoms of underlying co-morbidities triggered. For example, a heart patient who is on anti-arrhythmic drugs might develop palpitation or chest pain together with the other symptoms of anxiety.
Depression: A depressed person will appear hopeless, drained and energy-less. Their faces will often look blank without emotions, prefer staying still or have very slow movements. They will also experience changes in sleeping pattern, appetite and association with other people. They would rather spend time alone than hanging out with friends like they used to do.
It is highly encouraged to identify the affected individuals and help them to seek medical advice because both these conditions can lead to secondary effects of one another, which will drastically pull down the individual performance and quality of life.
Black people. We rarely vet political candidates. And that’s a problem. Big time. Usually a candidate is given to us. Usually a candidate is referred to us by some pork-chop eating pastor. Civil Rights activists that are sponsored by mainstream media and paid by the same establishment also love vouching for candidates for us.
And all the candidate referred to us has to do is give a rousing speech with a few quotable lines. And we eat that up. If they give a thoughtful interview or win a debate with a few valid points, we give our full support. We never present an agenda and a list of demands for that candidate or more less, ask them what their agenda is and what they’ll do for our community. We definitely need to start doing that.
Vet Your Political Candidates
A few times there were small pockets of grassroots leaders that tried to vet political candidates. The problem is that if the candidate got upset that they were being questioned, the leaders quickly back off. Or if they vehemently shoot down our requests, we stop applying pressure. We need to keep the pressure up.
Most of the political candidates, both Democrat and Republicans of other races scoff at our demands. The only difference is that a Republican will ignore Black existence as a whole. But a Democratic candidate might condescend to us by showing up at a Black event to do a little dance. They use some trendy slang in a cringey manner, and even joke about how much they love fried chicken. But they will still dismiss you the minute your present your list of demands. And they even get offended that we would even demand benefits. They don’t do this with other ethnic groups and cultural groups.
We have to vet Black so-called leaders and slick-talking non-Black politicians who the mainstream media makes famous by constantly displaying them. Most of the leaders are bank-rolled by White liberal organizations. Those puppet leaders then come to us and tell us to have blind faith in whatever politician the mainstream media wants to win an election. We need to vet the political candidates and the leaders that hype them up to us.
Vet Your Political Candidates
It is counterproductive to support a candidate who’s only talking point is that the opposition is way worse. They’ll always try to scare us by saying the big, bad boogeyman racist that they are running against will plunge us further down a dark whole. We approach politics from a place of lack and a negative below 0, what-we-want-to-avoid as opposed to a numerical plus, what-we-want-to-gain approach.
And if any of these candidates ignore us and dismiss us, we need to withdraw support from them. And we need to clown and deride whatever puppet Black leader the media throws at us as and send him back to his masters crying. The Black puppets bosses should be scratching their heads trying to figure out the next and best way to finesse us for blind support. And we need to stand on our square and keep applying the pressure.
From Our Friends At –
What We Learned!
The recall of Mayor LaToya Cantrell is like that hazardous train derailment in Ohio. Like train derailment, the resulting damage is not only confusing and troubling but potentially catastrophic. People in Ohio wonder if they can safely continue to live in their homes. Same for New Orleanians.
In Ohio the Norfolk Southern train pulling 50 carloads of hazardous materials derailed. The derailment caused an evacuation and massive cleanup of the tens of thousands of tons of contaminated soil. Investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. In New Orleans, Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste and Eileen Cater barreled through city hall and dropped off tens of thousands of recall signatures. Each is hazardous to the mayor’s tenure. The New Orleans Registrar of Voters must investigate and confirm each individual signature. But in both cases, the people are confused and troubled.
The government response in each case is at best questionable. In Ohio, people want to know if is truly safe to return to their homes. In New Orleans, people are concerned about their right to vote being taken away. And in each case, government leaders ask the public to trust them. In Ohio they claim that the removed soil is the only toxic material. In New Orleans, the Secretary of State magically removed but not actually removed 25,000 voters from the rolls. This was a part of a settlement in a case brought by the recall organizers. They seemed to have rightfully claimed that local Registrar of Voters, Sabrina Wilson has not properly done her job. Dead people on the rolls and people who moved out of the parish. The judge in the case agreed with the settlement and signed it to approve the Secretary of State’s magic.
Oh and Judge Jennifer Medley signs lots of things. Nola.com revealed she also signed to have the mayor recalled. Curiously she did not sign the paperwork to recuse herself from the legal proceedings where she certainly has a built-in bias. At least it appears that way. Judges have specific rules that govern their behavior. And judges must not only be impartial but appear impartial. This rule for judges is appropriate.
“A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Any impartiality is hard to discern in this case. Frankly, how can any judge who signed the paperwork to recall the mayor preside over any case about recalling the mayor?
But like the scattered train cars in Ohio, the local Registrar of Voters just left the boxes of recall signatures unattended at the front counter in her office. Anybody might have come and removed 5,000 signatures. The Registrar has been conspicuous by her absence. The lackadaisical and unsophisticated approach to the evidence is disturbing. How have the boxes in the back been handled? We know nothing about the counting process. Both sides deserve a fair and impartial count process. And most importantly, the citizens need to know with certainty that the signatures were properly preserved and accurately counted. As oversight, the press should be in the room or rooms where the signatures are being handled. Can we trust the recall process?
Secrecy on both sides
Both the recall organizers and every level of government involved so far operates in secrecy. Given the lack of transparency from government officials, the recall organizers are smart to play their cards close to the vest. But we deserve a clean and unencumbered recall process. But what we have learned through this is that the Secretary of State trivializes voting records. He just picked a number and declared it so. These are supposed to be official records. The count should be accurate by at least 6o days. People die every day and the records have to be delivered to the Secretary of State. The local registrar is equally culpable. Her approach to record keeping lacks security and regulation. Can we trust the recall process?
Need clean process!
Whether you are for or against the recall, the whole process has to be troubling. From unguarded boxes, and a one-sided judge, to inaccurate voting records, and lack of proper oversight, the monumental and historic work by the recall organizers might be all for naught. If the Registrar indicates enough signatures, the settlement by Kyle Ardoin’s office is a problem. Surely Mayor Cantrell will sue about the suddenly reduced numbers needed. And if that lawsuit happens lighting fast and is in the recall’s favor, the impartial actions of the Judge Medley is another suit waiting to happen. Also, the secrecy of the Registrar is puzzling. The people want to know and have a right to know.
If the Registrar claims fewer than the recall people, those unattended boxes are a problem. The recall organizers will claim stolen signatures. And they will sue for a recount. Maybe the recall organizers have other signatures. Are they still collecting and back dating signatures? Without a firm number from the recall organizers, we really don’t know. Without proper safeguards at the Registrars office, who can say?
Can we trust the recall process? This whole recall has been mismanaged at every level by all parties involved. This is a train wreck. Ask the people in Ohio how things are going!
Are you wondering what it takes to become a bride? Do you have a friend whose boyfriend STILL hasn’t proposed to her (and it’s been years)? Is there a certain type of woman men want to avoid? If the answer is yes, you need to read the nine types of women men don’t want to marry.
Not every relationship is perfect, and I can tell you from experience that marriage is hard work. But truthfully, it’s easier than you think to keep your marriage strong (or to get your guy to realize you’re worth marrying!). The thing to realize is what kind of women men don’t want to marry.
I know plenty of men who don’t mind being told what needs to be done, but there’s a fine line between being dominant and being bossy. Men don’t like to be ordered around, they really don’t. Every guy (Alpha and Beta) I have ever known has told me they have a serious dislike of bossy women.
Any gal who’s going to tell him how to act, what to wear, what to say and when to be home is going to be the type of woman he won’t want to marry. Give the guy his balls back, please.
Yes, he knows you love him. However, he doesn’t need to be reminded of that every single moment of the day. If you’re texting him constantly, calling him cutsie names (like “huggie bear” or “snickerdoodle”), or leaving a note in his briefcase everyday, then you’re definitely too clingy.
Also, if you have to know where he is twenty four hours a day and whine when you aren’t with him, then you’re seriously too clingy and he’s not going to want to marry that kind of woman.
Men want to know they’re loved, but they still need to breathe.
#3 Their Mom
Do not cut his steak for him, wipe his mouth for him or otherwise treat him like a child. Especially in public. I watched a woman and her boyfriend order lattes one time and he apparently had a cold. She got tired of hearing him sniffle and held a tissue up to his nose and wiped it for him.
It was the most sickening thing I’ve ever been witness to.
Ladies, this is not the kind of woman men want to marry. They already have one mom, they don’t need two. They definitely don’t need her in the bedroom.
#4 Their Ex
I’ve listened to a lot of women tell me they are jealous of their boyfriend’s ex. It’s okay, I’ve been there. You see his previous lover and suddenly you’re comparing yourself to her.
The trouble starts when you try to become her. If you start dressing like his ex, talking like his ex, hanging out at the same places and picking up her attitude, then you’re basically no longer you and you’re her. Do you know what that means? It means you’re about to be an ex.
Remember, he’s no longer with her for a reason, but more importantly, he chose to be with YOU for a reason. Be you.
#5 Wild and Crazy
Men might want to sleep with wild and crazy, but they’ll never marry wild and crazy. Marriage means a man is settling down. It means he wants to have a steady job, a family and a loving woman to come home to.
It doesn’t mean he wants to spend every night of the rest of his life in a house full of drunk strangers or with a woman who he has to bail out of jail.
Men love wild and crazy women, but only when they’re happy being single. When it’s time to settle down, a man wants to know his woman is going to settle down with him.
Of course, being married doesn’t mean you have to be boring all the time, either. There’s no reason to sit on the porch drinking tea and listening to the crickets every night. Marriage is forever. You can’t spend the rest of your life bored out of your mind.
If you’re not willing to go out and have a drink with him once in a while, or not willing to take a vacation somewhere far away, then you’re not the kind of woman he wants to marry. Forever is a very long time.
We all know these women. The ones who get angry and set their boyfriend’s car on fire, or the ones who are so completely jealous they’ll start a fight with any other woman who even looks at their man. These women are crazy.
Now, crazy is fun, I’ll admit it. According to every guy I know, the sex with crazy women is out of this world! These same guys tell me they would rather go into the Witness Protection Agency than get married to that kind of psycho.
Happiness is well worth it. I know we all get depressed once in a while (I get seasonal depression real bad), but you can’t be miserable all the time. It’s not healthy and it’s not sexy, and it is very hard on your man.
Men can’t handle miserable women for two reasons: They have no idea how to help them and they don’t want to be miserable with them.
The biggest reason men won’t marry miserable women is simply because they don’t know what to do or how to fix it. No man wants to spend the rest of his life unable to help the woman he loves.
#9 Control Freak
The biggest type of women men don’t want to marry are the control freaks. Hear me out, ladies. I know we have a tendency to want things to go right (and the right way is most often our way), but sometimes you just have to let your guy help out (and then fix it yourself after if he messes it up).
No man wants to marry a woman who controls everything about him. This goes beyond the mother, beyond the bossiness; this is the highest level of “DO NOT MARRY HER.” He will not want to marry a woman who trades his jeans in for slacks, makes him drink green sludge for breakfast instead of giving him bacon, and forces him to become a shell of the man he once was. Again, a man has a lot of pride.
Signs He WANTS to Marry You
When a man stops being a boyfriend and starts being a gentleman, he is seriously considering something. Has he grown more supportive of your ideas or inquired about your goals? Why is he assessing your five-year plan? What is he trying to figure out? If you have the impression that your boyfriend is measuring up wife material, he is.
These 10 signs can help you navigate where you stand in his mind, even without him telling you. If he is doing these things you can be pretty sure he’s taking the relationship seriously.
Tired of the same old bedroom routine? Has your sex become boring and bland? If so, here are 12 new things to try in bed that will take you from boring to BAM!
No, not every night can be spectacular when it comes to sex, but do you ever find yourself in a sexual rut? Have you ever just needed to spice things up a bit?
Don’t despair, you’re not alone in this. Every couple goes through that “boring sex” phase where you’re getting off, but you’re doing it mostly out of habit. You know the routine; you probably even have a day of the week set for sex, don’t you?
We’re about to make things more interesting.
No matter what your personal sex style is, there’s always something new and fun you can try with your partner. Here are twelve new things to try in bed (and get out of your sexual rut).
1. Light bondage
Many people spice things up with just a little light bondage. You definitely don’t have to pull out the whips and chains, but you can have a lot of fun and flair by blindfolding your lover or handcuffing him to the bed. Even better, take turns. Let him be the dominant one once in a while.
Although most of us have our preferred role in bed (dominant or submissive), changing that up can really help you explore new sides of your sexuality and have more fun.
2. Kama Sutra
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Kama Sutra (that ancient book with all the cool sexual positions?), so do yourselves a favor and go get a copy from your local bookstore. Randomly flip open a page and see if you and your lover can get into that position.
It’s tricky, it’s sexy, it’s fun, and it’s not always possible (which definitely makes things interesting).
There are some pretty amazing massage oils out there, some of them are heated oils and some of them are flavored oils, and my personal favorites are the oils that are both. They taste great (usually like cinnamon), and they heat up your lovers skin when you blow on it. If you put it on the right spot, this little trick will really blow your guy’s mind!
The best thing you can do is to first completely relax him with a sensual full body oil massage… so he’s completely relaxed (and naked, with just a small towel over his intimate spots), then tell him to turn around and take him to another world with your hands (stroke by stroke).
Contrary to what you might think, vibrators are not only for women. Yes, you can use them to play by yourself, but you can also use them on him. A vibrator on the lowest setting, placed against your man’s scrotum as you give him oral sex, will send him to sexual heights he’s probably never even imagined.
It’s sensation overload. Of course, you can also let him use the vibrator on you for a change. That keeps the foreplay going and makes the sex last longer.
6. Anal beads
This one is not for everyone, but anal beads really can give you some fantastic orgasms, especially men. Because the male G-spot is accessed through the anus, anal beads are extremely sexually stimulating for men.
7. Feather ticklers
If anal beads aren’t your thing, and you’re not quite ready for the world of ropes and blindfolds, go out and get a feather tickler for you and your man. Feather ticklers are soft and sensual when gently rubbed across your lover’s skin. They caress you; they entice you, and they are definitely seductive toys to add to your sex play.
It’s almost the same as your lover’s fingers brushing against your skin, but much softer and gentler.
8. Honey Dust
There’s a great edible sexual pleasure powder called Honey Dust that’s made by the brand Kama Sutra (not to be confused with the book mentioned above). Honey Dust comes with its own feather tickler, too!
This is an edible powder, the same texture as baby powder, which you dust on your lover and lick off. It’s less sticky than edible or heating oils, and less messy than whipped cream. The feather tickler is a bonus that comes with the dust, so you have a way of playfully putting it on your lover’s skin.
9. Role playing
Have you ever wanted to have sex with a sexy pirate? Has your guy ever jokingly called you a cute beer wench? Why not delve headlong into this idea and let your dramatic flair have some fun?! Role playing is a great way to spice things up in the bedroom, have fun with each other, and also create some new inside jokes between you and him.
After all, when he says “Helloooooo, nurse!” to you in public, only you’ll know that it has everything to do with that naughty game of doctor you played.
10. Sex to music/striptease
A striptease is one of the best ways to spice things up a bit in bed, and it doesn’t just have to be you doing it. I will admit, very few men actually look attractive doing this little dance of pleasure, which is why we women are the ones who are usually seen in this role. Don’t let that stress you. Stripteases are good fun and good exercise, but mostly, they’re good for your sex life!
11. Hot/cold oral sex
If you don’t feel like going to the store for special toys, or getting the sheets messy with whipped cream, you can give your guy some fabulous oral sex (and have him give you fabulous oral sex) by adding a little bit of crushed ice, or very warm tea, to your mouth right before you give it. I can’t even begin to put in words the pleasure you’ll get from warm tea…just try it, trust me.
12. Make love (seriously)
When’s the last time you and your partner actually made love? Sure, you’ve had sex, but when did you take the time to caress each other, to kiss his neck when he’s inside you, to worship each other sensually? None of the tricks above will ever be able to compare to the sensation of making love.
And if these 12 ideas aren’t enough, I recommend you read Michael Webb’s classic guide: 100 Great Sex Games for Couples. You’ll get an endless amount of inspiration so every night seems new and unforgettable.
By Pat Bryant*
The Transformative Justice Coalition (TRC) announced that the group plans to come to Florida and join the resistance to Governor DeSantis and Republican Party “anti-woke” policies. Those policies aim to finish stripping away freedoms like the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Led by Civil Rights Attorney Barbara Arnwine, TJC had phenomenal success organizing the arrest, trial, and conviction of three white supremacists who killed Ahumad Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. The TJC also led a voter caravan that stretched over 20 plus cities to increase turnout for the mid-term elections.
Pinellas County Florida Public Schools is one of the latest scenes where the battle brews between teachers, parents, students, school board members and an“anti-woke” Republican dominated legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. “Anti-woke” is a conservative code to replace the “N” word and make it apply to negatively to LGBTQ constituents and people of color.
On a spring-like February evening in Largo, Florida, under the watchful eyes of state police, a small group rallied outside the Pinellas County School Board meeting vowing not to be turned back to a place when public education for all children was not a right in Florida and most of the South.
Their growing public opposition is to a number of proposed and already passed dystopian state laws:
one that would set up a process of decertifying unions and dues check off;
another proposed to outlaw the Democratic Party;
already banned public schools and private businesses from teaching people history that made people feel guilty for teaching about historical events that shows white racists in a bad light;
passed book banning and state media specialists that approve classroom materials a felony offense to violate with up to 5 years imprisonment and $5000 fine;
programs that promote racial and gender equity in colleges are being replaced;
already charged and imprisoned former inmates of illegally voting when state officials sent them voter registration cards;
Governor DeSantis running his own slate of school board members to enforce the “anti-woke” agenda in local schools.
Not passed are bills have been written that would require reporters and bloggers who write about legislators and government officials to register with the state.
Florida’s laws are dystopian. This means a “society in which there is great suffering or injustice usually imposed by dictatorial regimes”. Florida is so dystopian that teachers are quitting, and substitutes are hired to replace them. Books are covered and removed in libraries and classrooms.
Pinellas County has vacancies for nearly 250 teachers and support personnel. School medical workers are afraid to treat transgender children.
Already there have been school walk out by students at some college campuses, that may happen in Pinellas County schools. But teachers and parents and teachers are gearing up for intense lobbying. School Board members got an earful here, a summary shared here, that stretched long into the evening.
One Board member began the public comment session with a quote from Mayou Angelo, “the more you know your history the more liberated you are.” A few of the 56 public commenters were excerpted below.
Michael Bagby a 40 year white male elementary school teachers union member said, “I was prouder of my country when I learned about the actual history because we changed. If I had not learned about our history I wouldn’t know anything. We need to know our history and what made us who we are today. Right now frankly I am afraid to teach for the first time in my career.”
Owen McCort, a sophomore at Collins High School is an honor student. He praised the quality of teachers and the honors program. But he said recent changes he has seen several teachers leave teaching due to new laws and poor pay and some weird laws in Florida. HB1 a proposed law to increase funding for vouchers would decrease funding for public schools which he said would not be good. “The foundation for public schools in Florida is being eroded” he said.
Transformative Justice Coalition Coming to Florida
Brant Robinson, a longtime teacher said students are not indoctrinated, in response to a DeSantis claim that the AP Black history course was “endoctrination”. ‘Students can handle teaching of real history”, he said. Reading Richard Wright’s “Black Boy”, when he was a student, allowed him to understand the plight of Blacks.
Van McCord Astrom, a mother appealed for the board to lobby against HB1 a law that would allow every public school student in Florida to receive vouchers that can be used to pay for education in private schools. “What we need is more support for our public schools, and not vouchers” as she pushed for Board members to go to the legislature and oppose increased vouchers.
A school social worker said 4000 students were homeless. Students are routinely late due to lack of bus drivers. Nearly 1500 tips have been received about students having mental health crises. She asked for community focus on students who are deeply disturbed.
Beth Weinstein deplored hiring of police in schools. She said police target students of color and criminalize them putting them in the school to prison pipeline. We need to rethink our approach to public schools as the backbone to our society. More allocation of resources need to be allocated, she said.
Meagan Summers asked to Board to reconsider banning “The Bluest Eye” the Nobel Prize winner by author Tony Morrison. A parent had complained which prompted the Board action.
Transformative Justice Coalition Coming to Florida
Lory McCullogh quoted the last line of the pledge to allegiance “with liberty and justice for all”. She said that if “you are not serious about liberty and justice for all please don’t put your hands over your hearts.” She said for politicians to decide what books can be read is terrifying. “I don’t understand why we are not all flooding Tallahassee and removing them from office” she said.
Andria Dork thanked the Board for recognizing unions of teachers and other staff. Ninety years ago teachers the union was formed. In 1968 there was a statewide walk out for collective bargaining. Now Florida is poised to make it harder for unions to operate.
Wendy Castro is a substitute teacher who recently miscarried. She decried unreasonable pay, no sick leave, terrible policies, high medical copays, low pay and disrespect . “Teachers are mental health counselors….There are teachers barely able to live in the cities they help cultivate. There are support staff who work day in and day out to make sure scholars are successful. These policies must be voted out. This is about a generation who will not be able to enrich their minds because you are afraid confront your fears.”
Jack Wallace is an organizer for the teachers’ union. He urged the board not to let the school system be privatized, by measures pushed by Governor DeSantis and Moms for Liberty.
Nancy Liu has two biracial children and is a school librarian. She said Florida has the highest book bans in the country. She said “we should not be banning books because we don’t like the ideas in them. “ Any removal of books should have a public discussion she said. Further she said “we need books that would allow all of us to represented and truly seen.”
*Pat Bryant is a longtime journalist and urban planner that covers the South