I recently read the nola.com article entitled: 37 juveniles shot in New Orleans in 6 months. While, I am not completely surprised by the amount of violence suffered by our youth, I am completely overwhelmed with anger! As a newly elected school board member and juvenile justice advocate, I have had the hardest time adjusting to the amount of young people who are shot and killed in our great City. I am heartbroken by the amount of funerals and memorials we have had for our young people since my inauguration in January. I am maladjusted to the amount of moments of silence we have taken to remember and pay respect to the young lives lost due to murder. I am disturbed by the amount of graduations that I have attended where a seat is left open or a life size cardboard cutout is placed at the edge of the stage in memory of a student lost to violence. Above all, I am disgusted by my silence.
Dr. King said “our lives begin and end when we become silent about things that matter.” As a newly elected official who is younger than my peers, I often times battle with holding my tongue, not because I do not have feelings one way or the other, but because I do not want to exacerbate the situation. However, on today, I have decided that I must live in my truth, live in my voice, and live in the fact that I am not ok with the senseless loss that we are experiencing with our children. This is not okay! I am not okay! We are not okay!
Our kids deserve better! We need to provide more services and activities for our youth. We must provide proactive services that include mental health supports, mentoring, and recreational activities. We must increase the wages in our city or we will continue to drown in poverty, which manifest in violence and murder. We can no longer blame one person or a system, nor can we wait on one person or system to save us. We must acknowledge that we are all at fault and that there are multiple systems in need of correction. Our systems must learn to speak to one another and seek the best outcome for all citizens, but especially our most vulnerable. We must learn to LOVE in a tangible actionable way! Above all, we can not be afraid to speak up and say that this is wrong.
I am not one for speaking without having solutions and I know that this problem is larger than me, but today my first step is to let my people know that I believe this is wrong and that we must strive for, create and demand better outcomes for our youth. I do not want to have to explain to our Maker when my life is over why I let the greatest leaders die before they were ever able to reach their full potential. I know that our responsibility as adults is to protect our youth at all costs. Will you join me in breaking our silence on this issue?