Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why I am Angry With Mr. Jefferson

Sometimes I am talking to someone I know or watching the news and will hear a story about a kid I know from growing up in the city with some rough circumstances. Let's give him a generic name and call him Joe. I may hear how Joe is committing robberies or has murdered a few other young cats like him. He might be on drugs and struggling day to day to survive. Some nights I turn on the news and see Joe in handcuffs heading into Central Lockup. When I see this two things go through my head. The first thing is that I am glad he's off the streets because he's a danger to the community. The second thing is that although I am glad he's off the street, I feel sorry for him at the same time. See, I grew up around Joe so I know his circumstances. I remember when he was the only one taking care of his brother and sisters because their parents were out doing crazy stuff. I know he got a horrible education in a failing school with limited resources. I know when he was coming up he probably needed some counseling or special education but no one was paying attention until it was too late and the streets had already claimed him. Everything about Joe's life until the end is disappointing and some of it was caused by things he couldn't control.

I have been listening to people on black radio in this city talk about how bad they feel for William Jefferson. Yesterday our former congressman was convicted on 11 of the 16 counts against him in federal court. He is now facing jail time. The comments are too bad to link to any of the news sites so just take my word for it. I don't celebrate when anyone goes to jail. One of the worst things for me to see is a black man inside of a cage. The day Mr. Jefferson turns himself in I won't be popping any champagne bottles. However, I won't feel sorry for him like I feel for Joe. I’m mad at William Jefferson and all the politicians like him who gave in to greed. William Jefferson is an educated man. He had options and access that most of the people he represented in Congress never had. He got to go places and see things that guys like Joe are too disenfranchised to dream about. The people sent him up there because he was our best and brightest. He was representing us. If he wanted to make money instead he should have stepped down and did his business in private.

Besides all of our other issues, we have an image problem. Black people in the New Orleans area are probably the most stereotyped people in the country even amongst other black people in different cities. Many think we are ghetto, ignorant and criminals. That means that even if the people representing us are not going to be effective doing their job, the least they can do is not get in trouble and tarnish our image any further. If you can’t bring money and opportunity back to the hood at least help our image by behaving with integrity. It’s not wrong to expect that out of people who represent you. I was raised by men that didn’t have some of the opportunity Mr. Jefferson had and I know that conducting yourself the right way can make up for a lot of things. Imagine what the congressman could have done with all his advantages if he just would have stayed true to the responsibilities that he asked the people to give him. That’s why I get pissed with politicians like William Jefferson when they get in trouble. I don't hate them at all. I just want them to do the right thing. I wish I could ask them all was the money they received worth the loss of prestige and disappointment for the whole community.


mominem said...

The most disappointing thing to me is that much of his theft was at the expense of people like Joe.

He stole money intended to help the community. His excuse is he gave his family a good life and his children a fine Ivy League education.

Somehow Jefferson got a fine Ivy League education without the help of a prominent, successful well paid father.

Clancy DuBos said...

Cliff, as usual you nailed it, though you probably aren't any happier to hear that than you were to hear the verdict. It's a sad, sad day for New Orleans. Jeff had all the opportunities that 99.99% of his constituents never had, and he squandered it.

I look forward to seeing you again at RT4, though I hope our meetings don't turn out to be just once a year.

Clifton said...

Thank you Clancy. I will be at RT4.

And thank you too Mominem for noticing that typo. I hope all the people who read it before I fixed it aren't too confused

C. Rok Danomi said...

The whole William Jefferson Debacle is sickening because it displays the American Way and the nature of this 2 faced beast that it is. He obviously knew right from wrong but the society that we live in rewards brazen criminalogy and celebrates it. Check out Public Enemies (the movie) and know that we all know how the story ends but are more than willing to take the risks because that is the only way that we can be rewarded in this so-called life. HMMM. Good Will Hunting might pay the rent but it definitely doesn't get you that 2 door coupe.

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