By Jackson Rioux
His rhetoric was harsh, inspiring, and at times, even humorous. Perhaps not everyone in attendance agreed with everything Wise said.
However, you can’t say Wise’s speech wasn’t thought-provoking.
One part of Wise’s discussion that struck a personal note was when Wise brought up Louisiana, and New Orleans.
Louisiana is one of my favorite places to visit. I love the vast variety of cultures, food, and people who inhabit the state.
Most of all, I love watching LSU football. I don’t know how my love for LSU came to be, except that I was a child and playing the latest NCAA Football video game on my PlayStation.
I’ve been to Louisiana twice. Once in 2008, and again in 2012. Both times, I was relatively ignorant to the dominant issues that plagued Louisiana.
David Duke was one Louisianan I had never heard of until Tim Wise spoke of him.
I was astonished.
How could a Neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and former Klansman be allowed to run for Governor of Louisiana in 1991?
Yes, he lost, but the disturbing fact is that six out of 10 white voters voted for him. Wise appropriately points out that Duke, and other politicians base their campaign platform on blaming, “the others.”
In reality, the people of Louisiana, and this country, should be looking at the rigged economic system.
Wise’s Louisiana story comes full circle when he talks about the two communities that were most devastated by Katrina.
These two communities were the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette.
The Lower Ninth Ward was 95 percent black while Chalmette was 95 percent white.
Wise describes them as, “Working class areas located right across the street from each other.”
During Duke’s bid for Governor of Louisiana, “70 percent of the residents from Chalmette voted for the racist candidate.” Instead of looking at the “underclass” as the problem, the residents should have looked at the policies instituted by the government.
It would come back to haunt them a mere 14 years later.
The politicians had left the working class citizens out to dry. It didn’t matter what color they were.
Rather than spend money on levees or reform, the government decided it was better suited for other things, such as, in Wise’s words, “Casinos, overpasses for tourists to get to the casinos, and giving the rich tax breaks.”
Had the black and white communities of the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette united to look at the area’s real issues, perhaps policies would haver changed.
Wise summed it up best when he said, “Those white folks in Chalmette would have been a hell of a lot better off if they joined hands with the black and brown folks…together they could have marched on Baton Rouge demanding a better deal.”
It’s important that we stop scapegoating and blaming others. It is imperative we work together as human beings. We can no longer hold unwarranted attitudes toward people simply because they do not look like us.
Let the destruction of the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette be a cautionary tale.