A few people in the African American community have expressed their surprise by our position concerning the social media post by Tangipahoa School Board representative Mike Whitlow. (Whitlow posted a photo of a hanging noose with the sentence, “If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.”)
To be clear, there is a real noose. It has been in existence for a very long time. The huge noose that exists around the neck of the Black community of Tangi is evident in a system’s persistent efforts to keep strong-minded and talented Black educators from leading the system and bringing out the best in our children. The noose was evident when a system zoned piles of Black kids who struggle academically together in Greenville Park and Woodland Park. How does a school drop over 30 points in a single year? Something is wrong with this. What happens to uneducated Black children?
As we have said before, images like these are hurtful to many, but they do not even come close to comparing to the aforementioned. From the sidelines, many of us have watched a system successfully lynch our kids by robbing them of an adequate education. Do we not see that the demographics of just about every school’s in-school suspension room mirror the demographics of our own parish jail? The NAACP’s concern far surpasses an image. We never aim to ruin a person’s life as a result of something like this. It is not the right thing to do. Has the Board Member voted in favor of decisions that are in our kids’ best interests? This is what we look at.
Here is what I have come to understand and respect: The Plaintiffs Attorney has been single handedly fighting for all of us behind the scenes for years. He has been doing this by himself. Why? He has been a true hero in all of this. His support for us is documented and is still being documented in court records. It is real. He has been the one who speaks up for us in court when our system deals blows that are not in the very best interests of our children. This is the real untold story.
So, it is time for us to finally do our part to stand with him in standing for our kids. I see good coming from all of this. For years, I have been here at almost every board meeting speaking out against injustices because I could not stand to see him carry this cross alone. Now, I am so glad to see so many African Americans united at school board meetings to help him along the way. I really want us to use this energy to join him in focusing on something meaningful– the future of our children. Let’s focus on holding our system accountable for making decisions that are good for our kids. We surely don’t want Black people in leadership roles just because they are Black. And we don’t want White people in leadership roles who do not know how to educate Black children. We want people who we know have our kids’ best interests at heart. We want the best for them. This is where I believe our focus should be.
By Patricia Morris
President, Greater Tangipahoa Parish Branch NAACP