Thursday, September 20, 2018

NAACP President Pat Morris on Whitlow noose controversy

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2018 | Views: 4855

NAACP President Pat Morris on Whitlow noose controversy

As President of the Greater Tangipahoa Chapter of the NAACP, I have been called on by members of the Black Community to respond to the Facebook Posting received and forwarded by School Board member, Mike Whitlow, which depicted a hangman’s noose with the comment, “If we want to make America great again, we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.”

To members of the Black Community, especially our older members, the picture of the hangman’s noose is a visual reminder of a time of great suffering endured by the Black Community where lynching, hanging, mutilation, and murder of Black people was a common occurrence just as the Swastika is a visual reminder to the Jewish Community of the untold atrocities their people suffered.

The daily fear and persecution endured by our ancestors, just for being Black, has been passed down to current generations who witness the pain in the faces and voices of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and Civil Rights Leaders as they recount atrocities and discrimination(s) faced by them and their children on a daily basis.

As a Black person, I too, understand the hurtful reminder that the noose represents to our people. As a Civic Leader in the community, I take very seriously the responsibility I have been entrusted with by the Black Community to relay matters affecting them only after a full investigation of the facts in order to forward the truth on incidents of which the Black Community needs to be aware of.

My honest conclusion is that Mr. Whitlow is being truthful when he states that he was not making a racial statement against the Black Community and there was no hidden malice or discriminatory intent in his heart. Mr. Whitlow, as a white person, is simply unexposed to the sufferings endured by many Blacks and the message perceived by the Black Community when a White person is the one delivering such an image.

Many from the Black Community; pastors, attorneys, mothers, and fathers, showed up at the school board meeting to direct their pain and anger to an elected leader who they feel represents them, yet displayed a social media post that disregarded their feelings.

So, we wonder, is Mr. Whitlow truly sorry for offending people? Showing up at the meeting with full knowledge of the public wrath he was about to encounter was the first sign of his sincerity. He did not deny his accusers the right to face him as a coward would do. As a leader and a man, he did not shirk his responsibility, hide, or make excuses. He let each person speak of the anger and hurt they felt, without interruption. He offered an apology before and after the meeting, in the paper, and on television. The only thing Mr. Whitlow can do now is prove to the Black Community with his actions and words at board meetings and in public; he represents everyone in the community and he will help Blacks as well as Whites.

As a Black Community Leader, my advice to Black people is to seize this opportunity of forgiveness as an example that we are part of not just the Black race but of the human race. It is our duty to show by example that we will not be tolerant to discrimination but we know when forgiveness is appropriate. We must be obedient to the God who demands forgiveness; the same God who still delivers our people from oppression; the same God who so many of our Black pastors quoted at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

It is very hard to be forgiving when you are weary, hurt, and angry. I have learned though that the power of forgiveness can change the course of things to come.

Does discrimination still occur in Tangipahoa Parish? I witness it everyday in the fight the NAACP still endures even after 54 years in the Joyce Moore v TPSB Desegregation Case. Unlike Mr. Whitlow, I witness those school leaders who hide behind lawyers at taxpayer’s expense to circumvent, ignore, and try to wear us down as we fight for the equitable education which includes all children in Tangipahoa Parish. We endure personal character assassinations , untrue rumors, and all kinds of cowardly acts simply because we will not allow the true discrimination going on in our school system which is the denial of the same educational opportunities for all children and all qualified employees in Tangipahoa Parish. Their plan is to divide the Black and White community in Tangipahoa Parish so that while we disagree, the light is off of them to keep the power they so desperately hang on to, and to keep business as usual.

I have been waiting for the Black Community to monetarily support the ending of this expensive lawsuit which will ensure that their children will not be discriminated against by receiving an equitable education. I have been waiting on the pastors and Black Professionals who have made it and know that a good education is the first step to the pathway out of poverty. Help our children who cannot fend for themselves get what they deserve. As adults, let's help end discrimination in a powerful and lasting way.

I call on all taxpaying citizens of Tangipahoa Parish to demand that this 54 year old lawsuit is settled according to the United States Constitution so that our tax dollars can once again go to our classrooms and teachers and not to lawyers.

To the members of the Black Community; it is proper to call out offensive and discriminatory behavior? Discrimination is hurtful and has no place in a modern and humane society. You will only divide with expressions of anger. Channel that anger, hurt, and frustration into respectful, committed actions to this worthy cause that will help to end the very discrimination you are upset about.

Patricia Morris, President
GTPB NAACP