In the South, particularly in cities like Lafayette, Louisiana, we are invisible to the rest of the world. Racism runs rampant, and the screams, cries, and pleas for help go unanswered. Our invisibility to the world seems unfathomable, but it is an unspoken reality. For some people it is better to imagine that the nightmare of our reality does not endure. The truth is it exists more insidiously, and the former Trump administration gave permission for it to be done openly. The profound sadness and anger as a result is palpable.

The lands once tended by slaves have traded its shackles for structures that continue the vestiges of oppression. Cunningly, these systems have changed the manner with which they ensure compliance. Economics, housing, healthcare, education, and so many more systems have stacked the deck against those wishing to marry the dream of King and the American dream. Southern states go largely unnoticed because they are not ripe for “swing” state status; instead we are forced to fend for ourselves. The irony of our current existence is that the Civil War was intended to end it; however, it was just allowed to change the shape bondage took.

In places like Lafayette, and largely states like Louisiana, the torrential downpour of racism is unceasing. Like a category 5 hurricane it continues to beat on the shores equity unceasingly. In a short twelve months’ time we have been featured on the national news for the treacherous nature that our city government operates with. We have watched with disgust as unarmed black men were murdered, minors were beaten by police, racist statues were protected, the death of a child has gone unanswered, and that’s just to name a few. We are now thrust once again on the national stage for the suicide of a Black officer Sgt. Clyde Kerr III. Kerr detailed the issues of racism rampant in our sheriff’s office in his final note to us. The media has chosen to spin his death rather than deal with the contents of his message. The truth is we have a problem of unimaginable consequence.

There is a part of me that would like to say that these problems exist on one side of the aisle. The ugly and unvarnished truth is that they don’t. Our governor John Bel Edwards, who is a democrat, remains silent in the face of these atrocities. He has abandoned Black people for his political ambitions. When he was running the governor did not know a black person, church, or organization that he did not like. He ran to each of them showing his teeth in the hopes that he could keep his grip on power, and when he did he too abandoned us for systems that have continued to fail us. In the face of protest he remained silent, and unyielding to the truth of who the state he was leading truly was. Make no mistake he had help. His help came from some elected officials that look like me. Black elected officials that were also more interested in their political fortunes than the plight of their people. They are the worst part of our continued oppression. They peddle turkeys at Thanksgiving, bikes at Christmas, and a blind eye when the real fight materializes. They have mastered the art of the backroom deal, and are able to cut it with precision. These politicians are supported by fake activists who sell books, t-shirts, and their influence to the highest bidder. They claim to be interested in change also, but are only interested in the number of likes they have on Instagram. We are tired being lied to, hoodwink, bamboozled, and led astray.

There is hope, and it is grounded in the grassroots efforts of the folks in Georgia. The activists that are doing the work on the ground. The people that show up even when there is no money to be made. The people that still believe that change is possible when we come together. Hope is possible in our states where our community bands together in a way that cannot be overcome. In trusting each other powerfully, at the grassroots level, we are able to overcome these vestiges of slavery.

Instead of phony posts on social media this month about King; perhaps, it might be ideal to realize that his dream is not a reality in this country. It might be important to come to terms with the fact that his dream has become a nightmare for Black people in the South.

In lieu of “celebrating” Black History Month we should reckon with the pervasive nature of racism that persists.

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