The headlines keep coming.
Crime is out of control, they say.
The city is headed in the wrong direction, they say.
The Mayor’s approval ratings have tanked, they say.
And, well, she just dances way too much!
New Orleans Mayor Cantrell is barely six months into her second term and it seems she can’t do anything right.
In fact, listening to some share their assessments of the Mayor is like watching ping pong. Our heads are swishing from side to side, jerking from left to right with every new opinion. Pretty sure we have whiplash.
Either it’s, “She ain’t doing enough! Where is she after shootings or other violent crimes in the city? She should be in the community, touching people and showing she cares.”
Or it’s, “Now, she doing too much! Why is the Mayor breaking up altercations in the bathroom at the Filmore?”
We have one question: What do y’all want from her?
It’s a serious question. Because after listening to so many go on and on about what they expect from her, we wouldn’t be surprised if there are those among us who expect her to telepathically sense when and where the next shooting or carjacking will take place and magically appear there to thwart it before it happens.
To paraphrase Jill Scott, Mayor LaToya Cantrell could probably give some of you the moon on a silver platter and it wouldn’t even matter . . . y’all would still be mad. Y’all stay mad. Half of y’all don’t even know why you’re mad. It is as if someone told you are supposed to be mad, and you are just happy to oblige.
Yes, she is the Mayor. Yes, she has a responsibility to this city and its residents. But last we checked, she was human — unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound, no magic lasso, no spider senses, not even a single ounce of vibranium. Anyone looking for one person to swoop in and solve all of New Orleans’ deep-seeded, historical problems by snapping her fingers or nodding her head, is not looking for a Mayor. You want a super hero.
Well, this is not the Marvel Universe.
The bottom line is that as the Mayor, the best thing Cantrell can do is use her power to make decisions that create, shape and promote policy that helps improve the lives of the people she serves.
She has been doing that.
She created the office of Youth and Family Service to help provide systemic support for some of New Orleans’ most vulnerable children and families.
She pushed for the restructuring of revenue derived from the hospitality tax to make sure that New Orleans gets just a little closer to its fair share and to stop the duplication of some tourism-related activities while also creating a brand new agency dedicated to ensuring that funding and programmatic support are delivered directly to the culture bearers–the Mardi Gras Indians, musicians, small cultural and art institutions–individuals and entities whose work is at the foundation of all that is New Orleans despite the fact that they have been historically left out of the financial gain of a $10 billion a year industry.
She acted quickly and decisively in the face of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1,100 New Orleanians, to shut the city in an effort to keep its most vulnerable (Black and Brown) citizens safe even as some of the city’s most affluent—those elite business owners more concerned with their bottom lines than the health and welfare of the community—complained about her decisions.
It is under Mayor LaToya Cantrell that any progress at all has been made in nearly 17 years as it relates to the redevelopment of the abandoned Six Flags complex in New Orleans East. Under Mayor Cantrell, the City also ordered a site assessment to determine the feasibility of reopening Lincoln Beach. Then, with a plan in hand, her administration has actively pursued funding to revitalize Lincoln Beach, including $8 million request from the federal RESTORE Act. And while that funding has not come to fruition yet, we dare any naysayer to point to one mayor in recent history that has paid nearly as much attention to the long-neglected New Orleans East.
Contrary to the narrative being spun by critics she is very much aware of the city’s crime problem, and her administration has been and is working to make a difference both at the root with services and programs to help improve lives and on the ground through police action and shoring up of public safety services. Under Mayor Cantrell, the city proposed a plan to address retention and vacancies in police, fire, juvenile justice and other public safety agencies. Her administration has directed $42 million of American Rescue Act funds to police and public safety in New Orleans. And police are doing the only thing they really can do, respond to and investigate crime and arrest perpetrators. If you think police presence alone prevents crime, think again. It never has and never will — at least not as well as equitable economic opportunity, access to quality education and quality affordable housing do.
After the Dance
But none of that matters because apparently. according to her detractors, murders and violent crime in New Orleans will not stop unless and until the Mayor hangs up her dancing shoes. So instead of being honest about the city’s deep-seeded problems and fairly assessing Mayor Cantrell’s efforts to address them, some of y’all want to berate her for letting off a little steam in the “Big Easy” where the good times roll all of the time.
Seriously, some of you have the nerve to get mad over videos of her dancing. That’s all y’all got? Really? Just because she has footwork doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about New Orleans and it’s people. It definitely doesn’t mean she is not working hard for the city. Anyone who thinks that really needs to stop being so damn simple and hypocritical.
Funny thing, we just can’t seem to recall such vitriolic reactions to former mayor, Mitch Landrieu’s dancing shoes though there are numerous videos of him wobbling during his time as the city’s leader. No slight against the former mayor, we are certain that just like our current mayor, Landrieu worked hard and did his best. And just like our current mayor, he danced a bit, because as mayor he was also the City’s chief ambassador of goodwill. So he danced, even when there wasn’t much worth dancing about. But instead of getting lambasted, a t-shirt contest, “The Mitch Landrieu Dancing Machine”, contest was created to see who could design the best T-shirt that paid homage to the culture of dance in New Orleans.
Funny thing, we just can’t seem to recall such vitriolic reactions to former mayor, Mitch Landrieu’s dancing shoes, though there are numerous videos of him wobbling during his time as the city’s leader.
Let us say this another way. Our most recent former mayor danced so much and folk thought it was so cool and fun that a t-shirt contest to pay homage to the art of dance in New Orleans was named after him.
No one seemed to begrudge Mayor Landrieu’s happy feet despite the fact that the city’s murder rate left very little to shake a tail feather over during his tenure. Do y’all need to be reminded? Happy to oblige. There were 200 murders in New Orleans in 2011, a per capita rate of 57.6. And the next year, with 193 in 2012, the city’s per capita murder rate was 53.2.
So when we see and compare the two very different reactions to essentially the same activity and very similar circumstances, we can’t help but see not so subtle racism and sexism at play.
If you think police presence alone prevents crime, then think again. It never has and it never will — at least not as well equitable economic opportunity, access to quality education and affordable housing do. New Orleans has struggled with those issues forever. And with out a commitment from stakeholders at all levels to change it, we will continue to struggle with them whether the mayor dances or not.
And if you don’t know us by now, you are going to learn today–when we see something, we say something.
In other words, we have had it with folk dragging the Mayor because she decides to move rhythmically to the sound of music as if her standing by, looking stoic and serious all day, every day would result in fewer murders in this city or as if she is not doing anything else at all. Y’all need to stop.
Yes, New Orleans has it’s issues. But if you ask us, the Mayor ain’t the one that needs to stop dancing! Hell, part of the reason that Black New Orleans finds itself in the situation it finds itself in now is because for decades we have been second lining and buck-jumping all over streets while the city’s elite have been brokering deals for their own economic and political gain while planning how to retake sections of the city.
So again, we ask: What do y’all really want?
Okay . . . fair enough . . . let’s all demand that she do “more” — more jobs, more police on the streets, less crime, more affordable housing, better economic opportunities. Is she supposed to pull all of that out of a hat? New Orleans is not Oz! And Mayor Cantrell nor any other mayor, for that matter, is not behind a curtain with bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors.
What Have You Done Lately?
What about the rest of us? Are we doing our part to make New Orleans better?
Yes, we are talking to you—business owners, property owners, every day citizens, other elected and appointed officials, civic and social leaders. And we are definitely talking to the complainers. Are you doing your part?
Are you offering your employees a living wage and benefits that enhance their lives and the lives of their families?
Are you active in your neighborhood? Are you keeping the property you own free of the sort of blight and deterioration that attract crime?
Have you raised your voice against the decimation of public education —a so-called reform movement that has failed a generation of young people in New Orleans, where neighborhood schools were closed while students were bussed across the city? Where was your concern as Black students are still relegated to mostly D and F schools?
Where were your voices when real estate moguls pushed to tear down public housing developments that pushed out the poorest residents of this city? Traditional public housing was purposely left to deteriorate prior to Katrina and then replaced with low-quality housing that offered fewer subsidized units, with the ridiculous claims of “deconcentrating poverty”.
We’re not saying you have to agree with every decision the Mayor makes, but we are asking what have you done lately except complain and finger point?
It is utterly ridiculous that some New Orleanians were ready to run Mayor Cantrell out of town for giving $350 a month in guaranteed income to 125 at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from both work and school; yet far too many had nothing to say—still have nothing to say—while corporate raiders pounce on the public education system in New Orleans, treating those same young people like commodities.
One of the chief reasons we have so many 16 to 24 year olds who are neither in school or at work is because too many of us sat in silence instead of fighting the wholesale hijacking of our public schools and the big budgets and construction dollars associated with public education. And that ain’t got nothing to do with the mayor’s approval rating or her happy feet.
Yes, we know the proverbial buck stops with the person at the top. And in the city of New Orleans, that means it stops with the Mayor. The thing is, there is more than one buck—plenty of blame and responsibility to spread around.
Hold the Mayor accountable with one hand, then take the other and hold a mirror up to yourself.
There are 37 parishes in Louisiana where the median household income is higher than it is in Orleans Parish. Surely, no one is naive enough to believe that changing that is a function of the Mayor’s Office. Where’s the business community on this issue? Oh, yeah, they are lobbying against a living wage. That’s where they are.
More than 20 percent of households in Orleans earn less than $15,000 a year. You want to deal with crime in New Orleans, then deal with that.
Pop, pop, pop
This about power and control. It is about who has it, who wants it and who wants more of it. And it is a lot easier to wrest all of those things out of the hands of someone that you publicly attack and undermine — even if that means you have to fabricate the narrative that undermines them.
One person cannot fix New Orleans’ crime problem—not even the Mayor.
One person cannot change a culture of violence and apathy that has been fueled by a culture of poverty, neglect and miseducation for decades upon decades—not even the Mayor.
And here is the real deal. None of this is about the Mayor—not the low approval ratings or concerns about the direction the city is headed, not even the trivial, frivolous complaints about her dancing ways—none of it, not really.
Here is why we say that:
She is in the early stages of her second and final term as Mayor. The race for Mayor was last fall; and while the field was crowded, there were no real challengers.
If it is true NOW that New Orleans is headed in the wrong direction and the Mayor is doing such a horrible job, then it was true last fall. Why didn’t she face a real challenge then?
Surely, the city’s rich and powerful—many of the same people calling for her head now—could have rallied to find a quality candidate to challenge her incumbency. They do it all the time. If they really cared about New Orleans and its people and the city was really headed down hill, if Mayor Cantrell was doing such a bad job, why not do it then?
To be clear, this is about disparaging the Mayor specifically in an attempt to attack Black leadership in general.
Oh, y’all thought this whole thing was about New Orleans and New Orleanians, too? Sorry, didn’t even mean to pop that bubble.
This is about power and control. It is about who has it, who wants and who wants more of it. And it is a lot easier to wrest all of those things out of the hands of someone that you publicly attack and undermine—even if that means you have to fabricate the narrative that undermines them.
So they mumble and grumble. They find other people in positions of power to attack the target for reasons that make little sense. And foolishly, some of OUR OWN fall right in line. Yep, we are talking about the so-called charter change to force mayoral appointees to get City Council approval and other acts of that nature. Foolery at its finest.
Then it all gets reported in the daily news. The bandwagon is rolling now like a Fat Tuesday parade down St. Charles Avenue. It’s repeated at the barber shop, the beauty salon, at Sunday brunch. It turns into low approval ratings and disparaging reviews.
And guess what — LaToya Cantrell will still be Mayor until her term expires. Like it or not, Teedy Toya is dancing all the way through the end of her term in 2026.
This isn’t about her. It is about discrediting Black leadership. Rest assured, that is exactly where this is heading. Hell, it’s already here. And far too many of our OWN so-called Black leaders have jumped on this bandwagon hoping they might emerge as the “anointed one”.
To be sure, we have already heard it.
It is sickening, for sure. But if you think that all of this shade that is being thrown at the Mayor right now isn’t about conditioning the electorate into thinking that maybe the next mayor of New Orleans shouldn’t be Black, you would do well to think again.
THAT IS THE PLAN! STAY WOKE!