By Bill Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans, quigley@loyno.edu

Four and a half months after two hurricanes ripped apart Louisiana, tens of thousands of people are still suffering.   While the national election has absorbed the attention of the nation, thousands of people are still not back in their homes.  Many have had to move a half dozen times.  Some are living in tents.  It is past time the nation turned some of its attention back to these mostly forgotten people.

CREOLE, LOUISIANA – OCTOBER 10: An aerial view of flood waters from Hurricane Delta surrounding structures destroyed by Hurricane Laura on October 10, 2020 in Creole, Louisiana. Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole as a Category 2 storm in Louisiana initially leaving some 300,000 customers without power. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Hurricane Laura, a category 4 storm with winds of nearly 150 miles an hour, hit on August 27, 2020 on the coast of southwest Louisiana.   

Forty-three days later, on October 9, Hurricane Delta, a category 2 storm with winds over 100 miles an hour, hit 10 miles away.   Laura caused $19 billion in losses and Delta caused another $2.9 billion.

The brunt of the destruction has been in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes.  Calcasieu has a population of 203,000, according to the Census.  Lake Charles, home to 78,000 people and the sixth biggest city in Louisiana, is the biggest city in Calcasieu.   Cameron Parish, south of Calcasieu on the Gulf of Mexico, is populated by about 6900 people.   

Nearly 47,000 homes were damaged by Hurricane Laura alone, 16,000 of which are in need of major repairs, according to Rebecca Santana of the Associated Press.   Most of the damaged homes are in Calcasieu Parish.  Though there are many fewer homes in Cameron, more than half were completely destroyed, according to local government authorities.

Displaced Residents After the Hurricane Living in Tents

In late September, a month after Laura, many displaced families were still living in tents.

Sherry Bourque and her disabled father James Baker used the last of their money and bought two tents at Dick’s Sporting Goods and lived in them in the back yard of their destroyed home.  They had to stay close to deal with the insurance adjustors and contractors.

It is not at all unusual for homeowners and renters to have lived in five or more places since Hurricane Laura hit.  For example, a retired homeowner of limited income with health issues left Lake Charles for College Station Texas for the first mandatory evacuation for Laura.  Her home suffered so much damage it was unlivable.  So she joined with other displaced members of her family and rented a small house in Lafayette, 70 miles away. 

They went back and forth to meet with insurance adjustors and contractors to get estimates for repairs. 

RELATED: Do Something

The family was forced to evacuate a second time weeks later as Delta approached spending several days in Port Arthur Texas.  Once the insurance people and the contractors advised her it would be spring 2021 before her home was repaired, she moved into a small home in Lake Charles which had to have its roof replaced while she was living in it.  Because she has homeowner’s insurance FEMA is not helping her.  She has to pay utility bills at both houses in order to keep power on in both places to slow down the mildew damage on her unoccupied damaged home.  She does not even have a final estimate of what the damage is on her house from insurance company yet despite having gone through 3 different field adjustors and five different desk adjustors. 

Wilfred Trahan’s home was so damaged it has to be completely gutted.  He and his wife live temporarily in a hotel 70 miles away and he commutes back to his job.

Homeowners insurance is helping some but not helping many.  Estimates of insured loss from the hurricanes added up to nearly $10 billion.  Over $5 billion in claims have been paid out so far.  Over 190,000 claims for damages to homes from these two hurricanes were filed with insurance companies in Louisiana.  Tens of thousands of insurance claims were closed without any payment at all.  Many people had deductibles as high as $20,000, making it impossible for them to repair. The Louisiana Legislature has received many, many complaints about the way the insurance companies are operating.  Complaints focus on two problems.  One, insurance companies are sending out as many as six different adjustors to a single home causing communication problems.  Two, there are big gaps between what insurance adjustors are estimating as replacement costs and the prices estimated by contractors.

Renters remain in deep trouble.  One couple with four children renting a house in Lake Charles rode out Laura in Alabama.  They returned to find standing water in their house.  Red Cross sent them to Baton Rouge, which in turn sent them to Alexandria and then to New Orleans.  They were then sent to Dallas briefly, then back to New Orleans.  The father took a job in Shreveport but fell off a ladder and severely hurt his back.  The family returned to Alexandria and then back to New Orleans.  In mid-December the Red Cross found them a house in Lafayette but only paid for the first month’s rent.  They worry they are going to be evicted and have to move again.  They have received nothing from FEMA. The four children have not been in one place long enough to attend school yet.

Apartments are very hard to find!

And when available the rents have risen.  Many complexes like the 191 unit Wilshire apartments in Lake Charles were so damaged that all the residents had to leave and are not yet able to return.  Homeowners with damaged properties are competing with displaced renters for the few apartments available.

In early October Red Cross reported it was providing housing to more than 12,000 evacuees.  FEMA told the Washington Post it was housing nearly 8000 people were put up in hotels in Louisiana and Texas. Government agencies ended the hotel stays for many people who only got 24 hour notice on papers slipped under their room doors.  They were told to return home but for many there were no homes to return to.  People were taken by bus to a government center Alexandria, 100 miles away from Lake Charles, to plead their cases.  If their homes are still uninhabitable, they were reassigned to another hotel.  On December 9, FEMA quit providing free meals to people in hotels according to Sam Karlin at The Advocate

Volunteers Help

Elizabeth Cook has worked as a volunteer with many of the displaced people who were evacuated to hotels in New Orleans.  She collected clothing for people who had only the clothes on their backs.  After FEMA cut off meals at hotels, she helped people get hot plates and small grills.  She sees massive housing problems remaining.  “I am working with a woman in her sixties who is finally staying in a hotel in Lafayette. She lived in her car in Lake Charles for several months until mid-December. And she has never been offered a trailer and has yet to find any kind of housing. She is now searching for an apartment in Lafayette. I am assisting her in this search for housing utilizing the internet. She is under incredible stress.”

Four months later, more than 1000 people are still living in hotels.

  Government officials say it will be spring or even summer before people can move out of hotels.

As 2020 ended some people were still living in tents.  At the end of December, Fox News reported that many of Katelyn Smith’s family members are living in tents.  Ms. Smith’s trailer flipped several times in the hurricane. It was destroyed.  Her whole family lived in tents for months and though she has moved into a donated trailer, the rest of her family remain in tents where their mobile home was.  “People like us are still out here going through this situation. I think Lake Charles has been forgotten,” Smith said. “It has only been a little while and it’s going to be a long time before we are back.”  Shocking photos of their living situation taken by Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert show the family still living in third world conditions.

Too few trailers are available for the hurricane displaced residents of Lake Charles

Calcasieu Parish Housing Authority says it will be well into 2021 before residents can get back into Lake Charles.

Small businesses are struggling from the effects of two hurricanes and the pandemic.   For example, a family bakery in Lake Charles, Mrs. Johnnie’s Gingerbread House, was open for seven weeks before Laura hit, followed weeks later by Delta.  It took another three months to fully reopen.  Many of the local grocery stores which sold their bread are still closed. The owner told Marketplace, “The hurricane, it’s going to affect the bottom line for quite a while.  So not only myself, but all the small businesses. It’s going to be tough for a while.”

Areas remain devastated.  In early December, Lake Charles officials estimated that nearly 3.3 million cubic yards of debris was collected in that city alone.  That is the equivalent of over 500 football fields.  Nearly 2 million more cubic yards still wait to be picked up.

Despite thousands needing housing, FEMA reports it has only provided housing units on site in Calcasieu Parish to 469 families.  No FEMA trailers at all were installed in nearby Cameron Parish as of December 2020.

With 47,000 houses damaged, 16,000 of which need major repairs, evacuees are nowhere near coming home.   At year’s end, churches and volunteer organizations continue to provide supplies to homeless people.

In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates in will be “early summer 2021” before everyone who needs housing gets it. 

Elizabeth Cook says the administration of assistance “has been a disaster.  The entire process to help these folks has been badly coordinated. The state which is overseeing this process has allowed or looked the other way as entire families were evicted from hotels in New Orleans with nowhere to go.  No one should be evicted.  Louisiana already had an affordable housing problem and this has made more people homeless.  It is shameful. The state of Louisiana, FEMA, the Red Cross have all caused unbearable stress for families and individuals.”

The Mayor of Lake Charles, Nic Hunter, is also quite frustrated.  On December 26, 2020, the Mayor told American Press in Lake Charles that he estimated that 5% of the city’s housing stock is still offline.  Hunter wrote FEMA after Christmas complaining about the slow process of getting temporary housing, saying that while thousands need help only 383 temporary housing units have been installed and “the number and pace of those installations is grossly inadequate” a performance that is “just not acceptable.”   

All of this is aggravated by Covid.  Over 15,000 people have tested positive in Calcasieu Parish, nearly 300 have died.  On January 4, Nic Hunter, the Mayor, announced on Facebook he tested positive for Covid. 

The nation justifiably spent much time focusing on the election.  But it is past time to remember the thousands of families who have been left behind.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How Local Businesses can make New Orleans Great in 2021

By Jeff Thomas

For the last few years, I have written about how to make our city great in each upcoming year.  Those articles primarily focused on government policies. Fortunately, the New Orleans City Council implemented progressive laws in accordance. Some of the policies set forth are not jailing people for marijuana and creating more contracting opportunities.  Despite these steps, the snags of crime still occurred.

Progressive laws are like fishing but for quality-of-life advancements. If you’ve never fished then you don’t know the frustration of your line being snagged by an underwater impediment.  First you think you have a bite.  Then you realize not only no fish, but you may have lost your gear and bait.

Unseen forces can ruin your cast.  Progressive legislation’s goal is to improve our economy. More economic opportunities reduce poverty.  Poverty is the source of most crime. Chronic poverty leads to carjackings, window smashing, home burglaries and even drug murders.  Poverty starts in unemployment and poor education. Like casting a hook with a live shrimp, positive government policies hope for a good catch. 

Creating more opportunities is the proper role of local governments. Typically people with jobs who own homes do not commit violent crime.  Children who live in the homes of parents that own their homes normally do not commit violent crimes. A growing economy creates more jobs. Jobs should eliminate poverty. 

JOBS should lliminate poverty

That every politician’s website has a multipronged job creation platform is now trite. Yet the necessity of a successful jobs program is paramount to eliminating the poverty which creates the crime that plagues us. 

The Unseen Impediment – Local Business Must Step Up

But just like the fisherman who drops his line only to catch a snag, even the best jobs program can be derailed. If local businesses do not hire or do business with locals, then even the best jobs program is unsuccessful. Local businesses must participate.  Livable wages, job opportunities, local hiring, and solid benefits are required. Also, contracting and vendor creation are equally necessary.

Instead of being unseen barriers to economic growth, big local businesses must be advocates for local people and their small businesses.  They must overcome stale and untrue narratives.  Local people are qualified and able.  Our local people can do great work.  Local people deserve jobs and contracts. 

Lets help each other pull up fish and not cost each other economic opportunities and growth. Local businesses must step up.

This the first in a series of articles that focus on the Expansion of Black Wealth. In this edition we take a granular look at the issues surrounding Black Wealth or the Lack Thereof…

 What’s Up with Black Americans’ Economic Situation?

By C.C. Campbell-Rock

The Summer of Reckoning began in 2020. Thousands of woke people protested to end the killings of black people. Stopping white supremacists in and out of police uniforms. These murders have been going on since enslaved Africans landed on American shores.

However, as the U.S. lay in quarantine in its attempt to stop the spread of the deadly Coronavirus Pandemic, the impact of glaring economic racial inequities jumped into view. The pandemic hit the Black and Latino communities hardest. Low wage workers, now considered to be essential workers, were most at risk. They couldn’t be in quarantine. They had to continue to work to provide the “essential services.”

Clerks, sanitation workers, meat packers, delivery servicepeople, postal workers, and others worked to keep cities running. They risked their lives daily, often without the proper PPE to do their jobs, and certainly without the proper pay. They are the victim of structural income inequality that our government has failed to address.

Wealth Gap

 While people protested, Black economists studied. “The only way to truly solve the race problem in America is to narrow the wealth gap,” according to a June 2020 MarketWatch article.

However, the  recognition that closing the wealth gap between blacks and whites to solve economic inequities is neither new nor novel.

The gap should have been closed by the U.S. government’s delivery of 40 acres and a mule to former slaves after the Civil War. The federal government missed another chance to level the economic playing field by not taking Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s advice.

In 1963 Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He and thousands of others participated in the  March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Embedded in King’s speech was an appeal to end economic and employment inequalities.

“King’s solution, while controversial then and now, was to force the government to create a labor economy wherein the government would create jobs to “enhance the social good” for those people who could not find work,” Caleb Silver wrote in Investopedia.

What is the wealth gap? It is the stark divide between how much capital white people and black people control.

By one estimate, the typical white family has wealth of $171,000. This is nearly ten times greater than the $17,150 for an average black family. Put another way, the typical black household remains poorer than 80% of white households.

“This stunning wealth gap between the races has persisted, in good times and bad, for the past 70 years. It did not get better after the civil rights era legislation. Or during the Obama administration. And it will continue to fuel unrest,” economists said.

“As long as we have racial wealth gap, we’re going to have a problem with race,” Patrick Mason, an economics professor at Florida State University told Greg Robb of MarketWatch.

The Brookings Institute traced income inequality in the U.S from the beginning of the 20th Century until the present day and found that the nation’s level of income inequality is largely affected by government policies concerning taxation and labor.

“The United States is arguably one of the most economically well-off places on the planet. The U.S. accounts for 29.4% of global wealth, or $105.99 trillion, according to Credit Suisse’s 2019 Global Wealth Databook. The second largest repository, China, is responsible for 17.7%, or $63.827 trillion. This effectively makes the U.S. the richest country on Earth, in terms of total wealth.,” Investopedia Editor Ward Williams wrote.

Earning Power

“A significant contributing factor to American income inequality is a disparity in earnings by race. The differences are stark. In 2019, Asian and White individuals made a median of $98,174 and $76,057 annually, respectively; Latinx and Black persons made $56,113 and $46,073, respectively.7 Additionally, Black and Latinx families in 2016 were more than twice as likely to have zero (or negative) net worth. White families were also more likely to own homes (71.9%) than Black (44%) and Latinx (45.4%) families in 2016,” Williams continued.

“Far from accepting the current economic situation as inevitable, it is evident that, in the U.S., government policies can tilt the balance of economic compensation for the rich or the poor. With the last thirty-five years being disproportionately favorable to the wealthy, and the fact that greater income inequality has been correlated with higher levels of crime, stress, mental illness, and some other social ills, it’s about time to start leveling the playing field once again,” Matthew Johnston wrote in Investopedia.

Where Do We Go From Here?

In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? King offered solutions to poverty and through certain actions, the closure of the wealth gap.

“We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will,” King wrote.

“The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available…”

While King focused on fixing the unemployment and discrimination in hiring that plagued the Black community in the 1960s, he also knew that if Blacks were paid equal wages to those earned by whites, i.e., closing the wealth gap, Blacks could accumulate generational wealth.

Next Week: WEALTH IS POWER: EXPANDING BLACK WEALTH – Part 2

Biden’s Executive Order for Racial Equity                                                                      

 ### 

WD CT: 1003


by Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D.

Don’t just survive—thrive in your relationship.

Romantic relationships require nurturing, but how do you best nurture an existing relationship?

Part of the problem is that, over time, every relationship develops patterns. Patterns in behaviors, patterns in emotions, patterns in what we expect from our partners (and ourselves). These patterns define our everyday interactions. They might be healthy enough to keep a relationship going, but if you’re looking for a relationship to thrive (not just survive) then pointed efforts to enhance your relationship patterns could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

How to help your relationship thrive, not just survive

Relationship scientists strive to identify the patterns that predict healthy relationship functioning. Evidence suggests its worth your time to consider adopting or doubling-down your effort to do the following:

1. Practice responsiveness. Responsiveness helps alleviate the potential adverse effects of stress in relationships. We know relationships can suffer in the face of one or both partners’ work stress, family stress, or any other kind of potentially toxic threat from external to the relationship. When people practice responsiveness, they are giving full attention to their partner, really listening and expressing care and concern. This gesture goes a long way in protecting a relationship, including from the stressors tied to the pandemic (Balzarini et al., 2020).

2. Make your phone an asset, not a liability. If you’ve heard of technoference (technology + interference), you’re probably familiar with the idea that phones can be problematic in relationships. You’ve got texts to read, social media sites to check, online shopping to do… but when people are distracted by their phones to the point where they are ignoring their partners, relationship well-being can suffer. This partner “phubbing” (phone + snubbing”) is now well-documented (Roberts & David, 2016).

But did you know phones can be used to improve relationships? Sending positive text messages can boost relationship satisfaction (Luo & Tuney, 2015), a simple step that can support the health and wellness of your relationship.

3. Foster psychological flexibility. It’s easy to rigidly want what you want and make demands, but research suggests that couples — and families — do better when people practice psychological flexibility. Being open, aware, considering the context, and keeping perspective all go a long way in reducing negativity (and not escalating problems). Fortunately, psychological flexibility can be developed with practice.

4. Get to know each other in a new way. When was the last time you and your partner talked one-on-one about your fears, joys, memories, or hopes? When chatting about casual topics or day-to-day plans becomes routine, consider introducing an intimacy builder through conversation.

A classic study showed that couples who engage in self-disclosing conversation experience an increase in feelings of closeness relative to those who engage in small-talk (Aron, Aron, Vallone, & Bator, 1997). Perhaps fall in love all over again by asking each other intimate questions, engaging in authentic self-disclosure, and responsively attending to each others’ responses.

5. Reminisce about the funny times. Not every day is an exciting day in the life of a relationship, but we do have memories that we can call upon, no matter what the circumstances. Research suggests that couples who spend time reminiscing about laughing together reported higher relationship satisfaction than those couples who reminisced about other memories (Bazzini, Stack, Martincin, & Davis, 2007). So dig through the memory archive, and when your relationship needs a boost, share a conversation about times that had you laughing.article continues after advertisement

6. Feel and express gratitude. Relationships are built on small behaviors, and gratitude is a wonderful example of a small but powerful behavior that can make a positive difference in relationships. To feel gratitude requires noticing what your partner does for you, your family, or your relationship; it’s an other-oriented emotion.

When people express gratitude to their partners, it produces a cascade of positive outcomes (Algoe, Gable, & Maisel, 2010). Their partners feel more connected and more satisfied in the relationship, and gratitude increases their work to improve the relationship (Gordon, Impett, Kogan, Oveis, & Keltner, 2012).

Relationships are not static. Paying attention to patterns in your relationship can give you insight into your dynamic, and if it’s a good relationship but could be better, then small steps like the ones listed above may help. Infusing behaviors that foster closeness and responsiveness can support strong relationship functioning.


A Review of Sorry to Bother You (2018)

by Jordan Rock

Here’s the hot take: “Sorry to Bother You” is the most hilarious horror film I’ve seen in years. It’s on Hulu, go and watch it if you want to have a spiteful belly laugh at corporate politics. Are you still here? Okay, let’s dive in.   


If you’re black, and you’ve had a white boss, then you’re familiar with Code-Switching.

For most of us, it starts early. A teacher sends you home with a note for your parents, and they raise an eyebrow because it says, “Crass language” or “Doesn’t speak clearly.”

Bias starts early

Maybe you got sent to an extracurricular “Speech” class that beat a transatlantic (Read: White) accent into you. Then your uppity bourgeoisie English teacher would stop telling you to speak “properly.” You travel outside your hometown and you get people asking about your accent – every other time you speak. You get a job, and your manager has to tell you over and over again that the way you talk is “too aggressive” for customers, or some corporate rep asks you to repeat yourself because they aren’t familiar with “Ebonics.”

You keep hearing that the voice of your hometown is unprofessional and abrasive from people in authority. It starts to sink in that your own culture is unprofessional. Like a core aspect of who you are has no place in business. Over time, you start to associate clear diction and deliberate phrasing and “proper” syntax with professionalism. You internalize the idea that you need to speak like a white person to come off as professional. This is what I refer to as code-switching, and it is in the enforcement of this idea that office politics attempt to colonize you.


So, what does that have to do with “Sorry to Bother You”?

EVERYTHING. Here’s the breakdown. Sorry to Bother You was released in 2018, and it takes place in modern-day Oakland. Written and directed by Boots Riley (writer, musician, activist), the movie stars Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Straight Outta Compton) as Cassius “Cash” Green.

Cash is a pretty accurate depiction of me back in 2019: broke, exhausted, and frustrated from having to bust his ass and hustle day and night just to make rent. Every day, Cash drives his busted up car to his new, crappy telemarketing job, and every night, he goes and drinks with his girlfriend, an artist named Detroit played by Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarök, Selma, Creed) and muses about how he wants to escape this life of just scraping by.


As it turns out, he’s pretty trash at telemarketing, opening with a hesitant “Uh, hey, sorry to bother you, but-“ before his customers hang up.

After several failed calls, his co-worker from the next cubicle over gives him some life-changing advice. “You wanna make some money here? Then read your script with a white voice.”

It starts with trying to subdue your drawl

Then speak with clear diction in job interviews, then you blink, and you realize that you no longer sound anything like your parents. It’s like rain on a car’s paint job. It doesn’t do anything at first. But if nothing is done, the water eats at the paint and wears it away over time until spots of rust start to show.

Code-switching is a survival tactic, you see, but you don’t think about it as an invasion into your own personal culture until somebody tells you “Well, you don’t sound black.” It’s subtle, but it eats away at you.

It’s at this point that “Sorry to Bother You” takes a ludicrous turn. Cash’s co-worker gives an example of the “White Voice;” a sample. And it sounds hilariously unnatural. It’s clearly some dude dubbing over this grizzled, laid back co-worker played by Danny Glover (too many roles to mention) in a nasally Ned Flanders-esque, overly familiar tone that instantly got a laugh out of me. It’s so jarring that it leaves you open for the absurdity that’s to come.

 It doesn’t take much practice for Cash to pick up the “White Voice” (dubbed by David Cross from Modern Family). And miraculously, it works like a charm.

People on the other end of the phone line gravitate toward the laid-back, earnest ease in Cash’s affectation, and he instantly starts closing deals left, right, and center. It doesn’t take him long to earn a raise and basically become the star of the sales floor, for what its worth.

What it’s worth doesn’t turn out to be much.

The working conditions and the pay from this job are so poor that the workers form a union led by Cash’s friend Squeeze, played by Steven Yuen (Walking Dead, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Final Space) and stage a floor-wide walkout.

Cash participates in this protest, and later gets called into the manager’s office. He expects to get the axe but is instead offered a promotion so lucrative that it will change his life if he takes it.

What follows is the story of Cash’s rise in the corporate world, and the moral compromises he makes along the way in the pursuit of a “better” life. And all he has to do to keep making money is use that “White Voice.”

 At the start it’s just a ridiculous gimmick, a creepy voice he can use as a party trick at the bar but, over time, the white voice becomes Cash’s voice.

He, and as an extension, we the audience, are barely aware that it’s happening. But Cash starts using the voice when he doesn’t have to, As a joke. Then in casual conversation. Then at all hours during work. It starts popping up when he’s not even trying to use it and acts as a barrier between himself and his friends and family.

As Cash’s life changes, so does his perspective. This movie puts the insidious, colonizing nature of code-switching on full display, and it is the main source of this film’s creeping dread.

That, and as the film goes on, it earns it’s “sci-fi comedy horror” tags. I’m not going to spoil the major twists here but believe me when I say that the climax of “Sorry to Bother You” needs to be seen to be believed.

With all that said, I highly recommend this movie. If you’ve ever had to tone down your accent for work, been told you don’t sound right by someone in authority, or that you “don’t sound black,” you owe it to yourself to check out Sorry to Bother You.

“Sorry to Bother You” is currently available for streaming on Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime, and is also purchasable on Youtube and Google Play.


Check out the Trailer:

A Collection of Political Cartoons by John Slade























































See the video below








































Charisse JonesUSA TODAYhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.435.0_en.html#goog_978138837

A key pledge in President Joe Biden’s plan to build the nation “back better’’ is to be bolder in addressing the systemic racism that has hindered the advancement of Black Americans, and other people of color, for generations.

The pursuit of racial and economic justice informed the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birth is being celebrated in a national holiday Monday. And along with health care disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the police abuse brought to light by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other African Americans, economic inequality is front and center in the national consciousness.

“These crises have ripped the blinders off the systemic racism in America,” Biden said of COVID-19 and the nation’s struggling economy in written remarks delivered Dec. 11, when he announced nominees to his governing team.

“The Black and Latino unemployment gap remains too large,” he continued. “And communities of color are left to ask whether they will ever be able to break the cycle where in good times they lag, in bad times they are hit first and the hardest, and in recovery they take the longest to bounce back.”

Biden’s proposals include boosting lending to entrepreneurs of color; creating and restoring parks and infrastructure in Black, Latino and indigenous communities; and empowering the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to more forcefully root out discrimination in the workplace. He will take office Wednesday. 

Biden’s plan for COVID aid:Here’s how a Biden stimulus plan could impact wages, stimulus payments and unemployment checks

A nation divided:As Biden prepares to take office and America reels from Capitol riots, Black and white still define the nation

But the challenge of narrowing a racial gap that spans areas from homeownership to wages to property taxes is vast.

While the Biden-Harris administration has outlined “solid proposals” to challenge some economic inequities, to significantly “rectify racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist within Black communities, they need to address the root causes of these issues,” says Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns for the racial justice group Color Of Change.

President-elect Joe Biden is pictured speaking at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

“With the systemic racism that has locked us out of job opportunities, education, and access to health care,” Hatch said, “it’s going to take more than well-intentioned plans to close the racial wealth gap for Black communities.”

Black homeownership: Lowest level in 50 years

An array of policies, practices and in some cases, outright violence, have impeded the ability of African Americans to own, or hold onto, their own homes, a key asset for building wealth. 

In 2019, homeownership among whites stood at 73.3% compared with a homeownership rate of 42.8% among Black households, the widest gap since 1983, according to Harvard University’s State of the Nation’s Housing 2020 report, sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may make that disparity even greater. 

While 36% of homeowners lost pay from March through September, 41% of African American homeowners saw a drop in income according to the Harvard report, citing data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey. And at the end of September, 17% of African Americans who owned a home were behind on paying their mortgage versus 7% of whites, the report said.

April 11, 1968: Fair Housing Act     • Location:  Washington, D.C. The Fair Housing Act of 1968, one of the last pieces of civil rights legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, banned discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, creed, national origin, or sex. The measure, intended to add to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had been held up in Congress, but passed quickly by the House of Representatives following the slaying of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed housing discrimination. But “these barriers continue,” says Kilolo Kijakazi, an Institute Fellow with the Urban Institute, a think tank focused on economic and social policy.

Homebuyers of color, for instance, were frequently steered toward high-interest subprime loans that are more difficult to repay, even when those same customers qualified for more affordable lending options. That left them more vulnerable to potentially losing their homes. 

The subprime lending crisis contributed to the Great Recession that began in 2007.

“African American homeownership is at the lowest level that it’s been in 50 years in part due to some of the loss incurred after the subprime lending debacle,’’ Kijakazi says.

Lack of homeownership creates a domino effect, depriving families of assets to hand down, and equity that can be tapped to seed a business, pay for unexpected expenses like medical care, or to fund higher education.

“If you’re Black and your parents didn’t own a home, you’re more likely to take out loans,” says Andre Perry, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities.” “So wealth begets wealth. But a lack of wealth also begets debt, and that’s what’s happening all across the country.”

Destruction and theft of property

And then there was theft. In perhaps the first documented theft of Black people’s property, Virginia’s 1705 law took and sold off possessions belonging to “any slave,” and the profits were directed to benefit “the poor,” according to “Stamped From The Beginning” by anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi.

“The story would be told many times in American history,” Kendi wrote. “Black property legally or illegally seized, the resulting Black destitution blamed on Black inferiority, the past discrimination ignored when the blame was assigned.”

In the 19th and early decades of the 20th century, white mobs frequently attacked and destroyed thriving Black communities.

An African-American photographer  looking at the ruins of the Midway Hotel. The Goodner-Malone Co. is in the background.

“Greenwood, Rosewood… the reality is that was going on all over the United States,” Perry says of communities in Oklahoma and Florida that in 1921 and 1923 experienced two of the most infamous episodes of such destruction.

The Tulsa massacre, which destroyed that city’s all-Black Greenwood District, began after a 19-year-old African American man, Dick Rowland, was accused of allegedly attempting to rape a 17-year-old white elevator attendant, Sarah Page.

Goaded by articles in the local newspaper, and likely fueled by white resentment of the success and affluence of the district known as “Black Wall Street,” whites descended on the community of roughly 10,000, burning 1,500 homes to the ground and bombing more than 600 Black-owned businesses, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.

Thousands were left homeless, and personal property and financial losses and damages totaled over $2 million, including cash some residents kept at home because they didn’t trust white-owned banks.  

Two years later, a days-long massacre destroyed the Black community of Rosewood, Florida, as an alleged attack of a white woman by a Black man spurred mobs to torture and murder African American residents and burn the town to the ground. 

In more recent decades, so-called urban renewal efforts that officially set out to revamp blighted pockets of cities often stripped Black Americans of their property without sufficient compensation.

For instance, eminent domain was used starting in the 1960s to clear more than 500 acres in the predominantly African American southwest section of Washington, D.C., uprooting 1,500 businesses and displacing 23,000 mostly Black residents, according to a paper co-authored by Kijakazi.Will Kamala Harris as vice president finally change how corporate America sees and treats Black women? Stimulus checks: There’s a new round of scams, too. Here’s how to avoid them Three signs your money management skills need an overhaul Trying to pay off debt? Here are 4 mistakes to avoid when doing that. The Daily Money: Subscribe to our newsletter

Redlining now outlawed

Redlining, a discriminatory practice that prevented Black homebuyers from getting mortgages, also left many Black neighborhoods depleted.

While redlining is now outlawed, underinvestment in Black neighborhoods continues, Perry says. And the new building and restoration that comes with gentrification often result in Blacks being displaced, unable to afford higher taxes or rents, as more affluent whites move in.

“You’d be surprised how much destruction you can do with tax policy,” Perry continues, “by selling off land to developers without consideration of the Black communities around them. It can absolutely devastate a community like a bomb.’’

Overtaxed: Blacks pay more property taxes

In 1910, it’s estimated that African Americans owned up to 16 million acres of land. Today, they own under 5 million acres, says historian Andrew Kahrl, a professor at the University of Virginia who has extensively studied African American landownership. 

Based on Black population numbers in 2020 as compared with 1910, the average Black American owned 14.5 times more land a century ago than they do today, according to a USA TODAY analysis.

One reason for that staggering loss is property taxes, which, at times, have been used overtly to strip African Americans of their property.

“A lot of this was very subtle” Kahr saysl. “Many African American landowners didn’t know they were being overtaxed… But over time, it added up to being a very heavy burden with long-term consequences for Black wealth-building and economic mobility.’’

1954: Brown vs. Board of Education     • Date:  May 17     • Location:  Washington D.C. In a landmark case involving Linda Brown of Topeka, Kansas, who had to cross a railroad track to reach an all-black elementary school even though an all-white school was closer, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the segregated school system was unconstitutional on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The clause would be used again by the courts to reverse state-level racial segregation practices and ordinances.     ALSO READ: Most Important Historical Event in Every State

During the time of “Jim Crow,” when segregation and discrimination against Black Americans were enshrined in local and state laws, white landowners in the South, particularly those with a large amount of property, would often be given unreasonably low assessments, and local officials would shift the tax burden to smaller, often African American landowners.

“It’s putting your thumb on the scale for white landowners,” says Kahrl. But additionally “it was part of a larger philosophy of taxation that guided Jim Crow policy in general and is a part of our politics today … A philosophy of taxation that tried to sock it to the poor, the Black poor in particular, out of a sense that they weren’t deserving of the benefits of those tax dollars to begin with.’’

The discrimination could be blatant. In 1967, white officials in the town of Edwards, Mississippi, doubled the assessed value of most homes owned by African Americans to punish Black residents who were protesting the town’s continuing discrimination.

But even if bias is unintentional, structural issues continue to put Black taxpayers at a disadvantage.

Today, Black and Latino residents pay 10% to 13% more in property taxes than their white counterparts, according to a paper published in June by Carlos Fernando Avenancio-León of Indiana University and Troup Howard of the University of California, Berkeley.

That may be due in part to a history of segregation and underinvestment in communities of color. Assessments are based on the perceived market value of a home, and tax officials may factor in a house’s number of bedrooms or size, but not whether it’s located near a park or highly regarded school, features that can inflate a home’s worth.

Because Black neighborhoods are less likely to have amenities like parks or highly regarded schools, even a white owner’s home would be less valued in a Black neighborhood. 

And Black and Latino homeowners – who appeal their assessments less, win those appeals less often, and see smaller tax cuts than whites when they are successful –  tend to pay higher property taxes wherever they live. Lack of access to lawyers, and a reluctance to trust and challenge the official process are some of the reasons.

Bias on the part of potential buyers also plays a role.

“The same property in the hands of an African American, or located in a predominantly Black neighborhood is going to be devalued because of its location” or the race of its owner, says Kahrl, who was not involved with the Indiana University and U.C. Berkeley study. “Invariably, it means the assessment is at a higher percentage of market value than white-owned property.” 

An activist wears a "Fight For $15" T-shirt during a news conference prior to a vote on the Raise the Wage Act July 18, 2019 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025.

The pay gap: Blacks paid less than whites

In 2016, the net worth of a typical white family was $171,000, almost 10 times that of an African American family, which typically had a net worth of  $17,409, according to Brookings.

While wealth involves assets that go beyond weekly wages, income plays a significant part, and Black Americans on average are paid less than their white peers, no matter their profession or education.

Recent census data reported that the median income for white non-Hispanic households was $76,057 in 2019, a 5.7% increase over the previous year, and an 8.2% increase since 2000.

The median income for Black households saw a steeper spike – 8.5% – in one year. But it hovered at $46,073 in 2019 and had crept up just 1.4% from where median income was in 2000. 

“There are barriers in the labor market that further contribute to the gender and racial wealth gap,” says Kijakazi, who added that African American workers also experience higher rates of joblessness at every level of education. “Racial discrimination in hiring has persisted despite the enactment of legislation.”

Black men on average make 71 cents for every dollar paid to white men, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Black women, meanwhile, earn 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. That adds up to a loss of $24,127 a year for Black women, or $965,078 over the course of a work-life spanning 40 years, according to an analysis by the American Association of University Women. 

Lower wages, longer gaps in employment, and jobs that are less likely to offer pensions or savings plans like 401(k) plans also impact how much income people have to carry them through retirement. 

“African American seniors are less likely to have financial assets, retirement accounts, and home equity than white seniors,” says a July 2019 paper, “African American Economic Security and the Role of Social Security,” that was co-written by Kijikazi.

Remedies to root out systemic biases

Despite entrenched beliefs in race, there are ways to root out systemic biases, experts say.  

“We created these concepts to suppress, we can create new concepts to create inclusion,” Perry says. Black Americans “are over-policed. We are discriminated against in the job market. These things you can correct, and it will help change the perception of people of color.”

Remedies to bridge the wealth gap can include measures like federal job guarantees, in which any adult who wants a job can get one from the government, higher taxes on wealth versus income, and the introduction of trusts known as “baby bonds,” economists, civil rights advocates and lawmakers say. Such initiatives would also have an impact on lower-income families regardless of race. 

Conceived by the economist Darrick Hamilton, baby bonds would be federally funded accounts set up for every child born in the U.S., with larger contributions given overtime to those in poorer families. 

In July 2019, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.,  and Representative Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., reintroduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, which would start every newborn with $1,000. Each child would receive up to $2,000 more each year, based on their family’s earnings, and at age 18, he or she could tap that money to buy a home or pay for higher education.

The Biden administration also has some promising initiatives, says Hatch of Color of Change. They include improved access to credit that could help narrow the racial wealth gap, and making sure that half of new funds allocated by a federal Paycheck Protection Program go to businesses with no more than 50 employees. That could be especially helpful to Black-owned businesses, the majority of which are solo ventures or employ no more than two people.

“Our priority will be Black, Latino, Asian and Native American-owned small businesses,” Biden said when announcing his economic and jobs team on Jan. 8. “We’re going to make a concerted effort to help small businesses in low-income communities, in big cities, small towns, rural communities that have faced systemic barriers to relief.’’ 

Still, more far-reaching measures, like federal business grants and a higher minimum wage are also necessary, Hatch says. 

“What we need from the Biden-Harris administration is a federal jobs guarantee, an influx of affordable housing, a higher federal minimum wage, and much more,” Hatch says. “If Black communities are going to survive this crisis, we need the new administration to act with the urgency this moment requires.” 

Biden has said he is hopeful it will be easier to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour now that Democrats control Congress in the wake of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff winning the recent Georgia runoff elections for two seats in the Senate.

With such initiatives, race could perhaps become less of a barrier and more of a marker to measure progress and change.

“You can’t create a whole society based on race and then” just stop, says Deena Hayes-Greene, co-founder of The Racial Equity Institute. “We have to take account of race until we change the structure that perpetuates these differences over and over again. Then we can stop checking the boxes.’’

Contributing: Jayme Fraser

LLOYD EDISON LAZARD’S SERVICES SET

 

NEW ORLEANS—Lloyd Edison Lazard’s Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday, January 22, 2021 at Littlejohn Funeral Home, 2163 Aubry Street in New Orleans. Viewing begins at high Noon and the private service at 1:00 p.m. The event will be live-streamed at ww.facebook.com/viewfuneralnow.

Lazard, 80, passed from heart complications on January 3, 2021 in Atlanta, while visiting his daughters.

Lloyd “Rip” Lazard

Lazard’s community activism covered a range of topics, including education, governmental affairs, small business advocacy, and civil and human rights. He spoke truth to power at the New Orleans City Council, and on radio and television broadcasts.

Lazard served in the U.S. Air Force before returning to his native New Orleans and attending Loyola University and Delgado Community College. Lazard garnered many “firsts” during various career moves. He left a lucrative position at the Boeing Company to become the first African-American to operate a concession at the N.O. International Airport. He was the founder of the National Slave Ship Museum project and the African American Heritage Cultural Center.

Lazard was known to many as “Rip the Poet.” and for playing the Congo drums. He was also a historian who specialized in African American history and Louisiana history.

Lazard leaves behind four children, two sisters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews to cherish his memory.

 For more information about Lloyd Lazard, please contact his sister, Carol LaMotte at 504-858-1645.

An Editorial by Professor Blair D. Condoll, JD

At first glance one might mistake this article as having something  to do with the 1991 Blockbuster film

“Boyz on the Hood “ written and directed by filmmaker John Singleton. Singleton’s story follows the journey of a young Black boy,Tre. Tre goes to live with his father in South Central Los Angeles. The father’s home is in a crime and gang ridden part of town. Tre and his friends struggle to not get caught up in the violence of gang culture. They just want to be normal teenage kids. John Singleton’s movie “Boyz in the Hood” pays homage to the creative dialect of Black neighborhoods. My title “Boys in the Hood”  sheds light on the clandestine Klan like behavior of the Republican Party, the President and his followers.

The piece is not only titled the same but has a similar story line. My story tells how dangerous and violent gang culture can be regarding partisan party politics.  My “Boys in the Hood” takes place in Washington D.C not LA. It stars people like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Ted Cruz.

On January 6th I too watched in awe as supporters loyal to President Trump descended upon the nation’s capital at the behest of the President.

HATE GROUPS

Trump Supporters laugh at man in hood

Various hate groups and loyalists stormed the storied halls of Congress. Simultaneously members of the House and Senate treasonously objected to the certification of a valid electoral college vote. They seemingly coordinated with insurrectionists to interrupt the Constitutionally mandated process.

These insurrectionists violently pierced the sacred veil of democracy. They broke windows, battered police and pushed their way unlawfully into the halls of Congress. Nothing else mattered to them except what they believed to be true. But they believed lies. Our narcissistic President told them lies for weeks. Trump refused to concede and claimed the election was fraudulent.

For weeks following the election, President Trump convinced his supporters that the election was stolen. He did so despite the fact that the results of the election had been challenged in many Republican dominated states. These challenges triggered recounts. Also, over 90 lawsuits failed in both state and federal courts. Every claim was dismissed. There was no evidence of significant voter fraud.

Despite the lack of evidence of any fraud, President Trump consistently perpetuated the lie that the election was stolen. He claimed that it is the duty of the Republican Party along with his followers to “stop the steal”.

President Trump preyed upon the historical racial and political divide in this country while profiting politically from the stupidity of his followers.

Requesting that the Proud Boys “stand down and stand by” does not necessarily make the President a racist. Yet the President’s reluctance to publicly denounce such hate groups in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement certainly energized and emboldened them. These groups use coded language like “Make America Great Again”.  Examining their social media reveals a desire to reinstitute Jim Crow era laws and practices in this country.

We have failed to acknowledge the racism baked into American capitalism. Many of the individuals who attended Trump’s rally did not necessarily believe in Trump. Rather they believed that the election of a Democratic president and a Black vice president would signal the beginning of the socialist revolution. Then the wealthy are forced to share some of their wealth and resources with the poor.

Equality is Oppression for the Privileged

They believed that the election of a Democratic president would somehow mean that minorities and the disadvantaged would become more equal. And they believed  that this new equality would somehow take something from those that have enjoyed social and economic superiority for hundreds of years.

After the Capitol insurrection I now fully understand how a millionaire like Donald Rouse would want to attend the rally to overthrow Democracy. Maybe for him and those who attended that rally, democracy means something different. For them American Democracy maintains oppression and white privilege.

For a long time, I often wondered why anyone would ever want to cover themselves with a white hood only to harass, intimidate and cause bodily harm to another. The very fact that you are concealing your identity should be the first clue as to the harmful nature of your acts. The fact that you go through the trouble of making and wearing a hood in order to remain anonymous should sound an alarm. Your humanity and morality should let you know that you are doing something wrong. You are doing something that is either illegal, immoral or has been deemed to be socially unacceptable.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan wore hoods so that after they finished intimidating, harassing and lynching African Americans in the South, they could easily assimilate back into being members of our communities. Even now, they serve as elected officials, members of the police force, doctors, grocers, pastors and yes even your neighbor.

As we come to the end of the Trump Presidency the takeaway for me is that President Trump did not make America Racist Again. Instead he and the Republican Party only made it normal for the racists to show their faces in public without the necessity of wearing a hood.

Hear the Professor Weekdays on WBOK1230am

By Guest Contributor 

Guest column by Okyeame Haley

On Saturday, Jan 2., in true pandemic fashion, admirers of Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson drove around the Louisiana Supreme Court building in New Orleans’ French Quarter to  honor her  retirement as the first African-American woman on the Louisiana Supreme Court and the first African-American chief justice.  I was happy that the pictures and videos of the judge’s celebration didn’t include the gaze of white terror represented by the large and often vandalized statue of Edward Douglass White Jr., a Louisianian who served on the state Supreme Court and as ninth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.  On Dec. 23, 10 days before Chief Justice Johnson’s drive-by celebration, the state Supreme Court relocated White’s statue from its prominent place at the Court’s entrance.

But by simply moving the statue, the court didn’t go far enough. The statue should have been taken down entirely.

The Louisiana Supreme Court building, for all its architectural beauty, is an artistic celebration of the White men who gave legal power to Louisiana’s historic racial terror against African Americans.  With the exception of a regal portrait of civil rights icon A.P. Tureaud, a substantive museum named for Chief Justice Johnson and a few other pieces of art, the prominent artwork inside the majestic building are portraits of Louisiana’s lawmakers from the 1800s and 1900s.  There is a pervasive and disturbing white supremacist aesthetic at the Louisiana Supreme Court building. 

During my time working at the court, before my workday even started, White’s statue at the Court’s entrance and the expensive paintings of white men who led Louisiana during its apartheid era would disrupt me.  These paintings of White men that supported and embraced terror against African Americans  are not grotesque like the racial terror the men endorsed.  No, they are dignified portraits consistent with the myth of white superiority. Most times, though, I eventually laughed at those paintings knowing that these so-called statesmen never intended that I be in such a  place of privilege. I also laughed knowing that it was unthinkable to them the idea of a Black woman serving as the court’s chief justice. 

Bernette Johnson, Louisiana’s first Supreme Court justice and first Chief Justice retired from the court Dec. 31. (Louisiana Supreme Court)

There have been efforts around the country and especially in New Orleans to rid our public spaces and institutions of white supremacist art and labels, but Louisiana’s Supreme Court didn’t rid itself of  the E.D. White statue; according to a press release from the court, it relocated it to a place “near the court museum.”  The court museum where that statue is being placed has just been named in honor of Chief Justice Johnson.  Johnson is a product of Walter L. Cohen High School, Spelman College and LSU School of Law, which she helped integrate. Her 36 years of public service includes serving as the first woman to take the bench at the Orleans Parish Civil District Court.  Thus, the museum is a visual representation of Black success and of women’s success. Placing E.D. White’s statue next to Chief Justice Johnson’s museum suffocates what little inspirational and democratic light exist in the court’s artwork. 

Chief Justice Johnson’s legacy must be protected.

Chief Justice Johnson’s legacy is one of attempting to bridge the racial divide through integration and the courts, but E. D. White is solidly on the wrong side of history.  His family bought, sold and terrorized enslaved Africans and exploited their labor on its plantations.  E. D. White fought for the Confederacy and supported terror against African Americans his entire career.  Though some emphasize E.D. White’s groundbreaking decisions in the area of business law and antitrust law, as a former professor of business law and tax law, I must say that his embrace and support of terror far outweighs those decisions.  He gets no kudos for antitrust law decisions when he presided over the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that formalized American apartheid.  Unfortunately, E.D. White’s image  and the images of other Louisiana statesmen who defied all notions of human decency are prominently displayed at our taxpayer-funded state Supreme Court.   The court’s decision to move the E.D. White statue inside –- rather than denounce it and remove it entirely -– will further imbue the court’s air with the myth of white superiority.  

Allowing the spirit and legacy and aesthetic of the Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson Museum to shine without the gaze of white terror represented by the E.D. White statue would be a much healthier, and far more democratic option.  But, as the writer James Baldwin said, “any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.”  And celebrating by itself the monumental achievements of this beautiful Black woman at Louisiana’s highest court, while inspiring to so many of us, remains  terrifying to so many others.  

Okyeame Haley, a former law clerk for Chief Justice Johnson and former chief deputy clerk at the Louisiana Supreme Court, is the son of the late civil rights pioneer Oretha Castle Haley.

This article originally appeared in the Louisiana Illuminator


by Jordan Rock

For the bulk of 2020, I’ve been keeping up with the news cycle and telling you how I feel about it. I don’t know if you noticed, but 2020 was a pretty garbage year for just everybody.

If I’m being real, a lot of those breaking news weeks made me so angry that I wanted to rip my own arms off so I wouldn’t have to write anymore. There’s just something about researching how your country is letting you down every week that grinds away at you, until you’re just a vessel for salt and angst.

The point is, I’m done reporting on politics. I just don’t have the guts to write about something that puts me through so much mental turmoil. There are plenty of other excellent writers on this site that can give you an impassioned, punchy article about how police will beat the crap out of you for asking them nicely not to kill you but won’t lift a finger to stop domestic terrorists from trashing the White House. There’s that angst again. See what I mean?

But this isn’t a resignation, either. I’m going to stick around here and write art-inspired articles. The fact is, I didn’t go to school for political science. I went to school for animation. I have a film degree. Film theory, storytelling, animation – that’s my jam. That’s what I’m on this planet to do, so I  figured that I ought to keep to that ethos, even when writing articles.

So, starting next week, I’m going to report on black media. The stories we tell and how we tell them can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. Our perspective is unique so, naturally, our stories have an appeal unlike any other demographic.

Our creativity is bottomless and our commitment to excellence is boundless. Every time we tell a story, it’s a cause for celebration.

 So that’s what I’m going to focus on. Representation, what to watch, content from black creators, examples of black excellence on film, highlighting black characters, film reviews… that kind of thing. I’ll talk about movies and cartoons and TV shows and games and any other relevant media contributions by black people. That’s what I’m passionate about and that’s what I’m gonna write about.

So, strap in friends and neighbors because starting now I’m going to be a bright spot; a respite in this parade of insanity…a little something to break up the unfolding horror of the times we’re living in.

Tune in next week for my debut column on film analysis and critiques, and black media highlights.

Oh, and Happy New Year.