Let’s start by making one thing clear: The middle finger is a gesture of contempt and a sign of disrespect that is meant to intimidate, degrade or threaten.
Disagree with her politics and blame her for everything that is wrong with New Orleans if that gets you through the day. But we dare you to find the line in the home rule charter that says the Mayor of New Orleans is supposed to quietly take public degradation, intimidation or threats.
As the story goes: On Feb. 18, the Krewe of Tucks rolled; and soon after, the Internet and local news outlets were flooded with pictures and posts about Mayor LaToya Cantrell giving the middle finger to someone or something as it passed by.
Of course, anyone with half a brain knew that she was responding to someone who made the obscene gesture at her first. Oddly, every news outlet that carried the story about the Mayor’s act qualified their report by stating that there was no footage or images available of what transpired before the Mayor was caught flipping the bird. Zero footage? Not one picture? Huh . . . really . . . and with all of these top-notch investigative journalists running around in New Orleans? Go figure . . .
Anyway, we have it. And we stopped our presses for this one.
Of course, we already knew what happened. Didn’t really need this picture, but it’s nice to have receipts. Floats were passing as Mayor Cantrell performed customary glad handing duties, waving, smiling and extending well wishes to riders. Her good tidings were then interrupted when this rude, uncouth piece of trailer park trash flipped her off. Oh, but he did more than that. We have learned that in an effort to make sure he got her attention, this offensive float rider actually yelled “F*** you” at the Mayor . . . at least three times, eyewitnesses to the incident tell us.
Likely taken aback and rightfully offended by the contemptuous gesture and words, she gave him the middle finger back.
Could she have ignored the irreverent rider. Sure. But she didn’t. He also could have kept his hands in his pockets and his big mouth shut as he passed the Mayor. But he didn’t. Instead, he gave her the middle finger for all to see and cursed her loud enough for anyone in earshot to hear.
So she got a little frustrated in the moment. It was a knee jerk response, perhaps. Or maybe it was a calculated one intended to let him know that she neither appreciated nor would she be intimated by his behavior. Whatever the case, we ain’t mad at her. In fact, we would like to know what Tucks intends to do about this rider. Or is this Carnival krewe okay with its riders and members cursing out and making obscene gestures at public officials while riding in its annual parade?
This is Different
We know, we know. There are some of you who say that, as the mayor of New Orleans, it does not matter what happened before she flipped off the passing float rider. She must be held to a higher standard, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. You are entitled to your opinion. And we have ours. In short, miss us with that the whole “when they go low, we go high” stuff.
That sounds nice; but in the real world, no one should be subjected to that sort of abuse. In the real world, sometimes you gonna mess around and find out.
Most of all, in the real world, this preoccupation that some seem to have with publicly assailing the Mayor is NOT at all about the real issues that beset New Orleans. These are personal attacks, not political ones. And we will say it again for the folk in the back. This is part of an all-out assault against Black leadership. As the Mayor, LaToya Cantrell makes for a handy target. Attacking her is just one battle in an entire war being waged against Black leadership; and Black folk need to wake up and realize that disrespecting and degrading this Mayor is not the same thing as tackling the issues and challenges New Orleans faces.
You can’t bet your last dollar that “Mr. Flip off the Mayor” could care less that the median income for Black households in New Orleans is less than $25,000, but nearly $70,000 for White households in New Orleans. He could care less that 54 percent of the so-called public schools are D and F schools. His kids are at Ben Franklin or The Willow School (formerly Lusher) or Audubon. That’s if they are in public school at all. Truth is, he is flipping off the Mayor . . . and you too!
We keep saying that much of the noise being made now about what’s wrong with New Orleans ain’t even about us. Black folk been catching hell in New Orleans since forever. All of sudden LaToya Cantrell is OUR enemy?
Furthermore, not liking a political leader is one thing. Disagreeing with him or her is entirely understandable and acceptable. We have publicly and respectfully disagreed with the Mayor. But what has been and is happening in New Orleans right now is something entirely different.
It has become unequivocally clear that there is a vitriol, an utterly malicious contempt that has been directed at Mayor LaToya Cantrell from the word “go”. And that contempt has only grown.
It grew when she defied the rich, business interests with her response to COVID-19. They were livid when she chose the health and safety of low-wage, front-line workers over their profits.
It grew when she dared to restructure the hospitality tax to ensure that the City would get more of its fair share and to carve out a few dollars to share with culture bearers.
It grew for reasons out of her control, such as there simply not being enough time to call a mandatory evacuation of the entire City before Hurricane Ida made landfall in 2021.
Hell, it’s been growing for almost 45 years now. We’ll give you a second to think about that.
This is the first time in the modern history of a centuries-old city that blatant, overt, and obvious disrespect of any mayor has been so palpable and has turned into something other than run-of-the-mill political discord. We are certain that if she were White, this would not be happening.
Perhaps this is the result of this post-MAGA society. Emboldened by Donald Trump, hate-filled White folk feel empowered to just say and do whatever, wherever and whenever. Some of these angry White folk have gone wild with hate, scaling federal buildings and flipping off Black Mayors. And for us, the worst part has been the Kneegrows that take part in this assault. We stand by our assertion that what is happening now is bigger than the Mayor and not about her as much as it is about crippling Black leadership in New Orleans. So under no circumstances will you catch us over here at The New Orleans Tribune castigating Mayor Cantrell for flipping off some good ol’ boy that flipped her off first.
And yes, we have extra side-eye glance for the Kneegrows that are all too eager to join this fray. Black folk, especially those that fashion themselves as opinion leaders, should have been out there flipping people off and signing recall petitions when they fired your neighbors and stole your schools. You couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up for the children of this community or veteran teachers, but now you are mad at this Mayor over what? The Wisner Trust? A pothole that’s been on your street for 25 years?
New Rules: This Barefaced Disrespect Has Been Unleashed Too Long
So, we have some new rules for New Orleans.
- If someone is bold and bad enough . . . or drunk enough . . . or hateful enough . . . or whatever stupid emotion that runs through their mind enough to flip their middle finger at the Mayor of City in public; and she or he is fed up with the shenanigans and flips them off back, that’s not news. It’s karma.
- The rest of y’all are gonna stop acting like a bunch of Central Park Karens, clutching your fake pearls and calling the media to accuse the Mayor of poor behavior all because, just like that Central Park Karen, you don’t want to put your dog on leash.
- Oh, and put them “dogs” on a leash!
No, not actual dogs. We are referring to this disrespectful, hateful, rude and crude behavior directed at Mayor LaToya Cantrell, more often than not by the vile, angry White folk and cosigned by sellout Kneegrows! We say it’s time to put the insolent, vulgar behavior that has been directed at her on a leash.
You didn’t vote for her . . . cool. That’s your right and certainly your vote. You want to recall her . . . okay. You signed the petition. We are here for the process. But enough of the attempts at degradation and humiliation.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell is human just like the rest of us. She is not made of teflon. Some of y’all are ready to fight when you get cut off in traffic or someone skips you in line or looks at you funny. So we don’t even want to imagine what you would do if a person cursed you, flipped you the middle finger or loud talked you . . . in public.
Someone has to say it, and since know one else seems to have the gumption it takes to tell the truth and call a thing a thing, we will.
Here it goes: We are the-day-after-Mardi-Gras tired of folk instigating and goading the Mayor and we are even more frustrated with the ignorant Black folk jumping on this bandwagon. It is not okay to openly degrade and berate this Black woman, flip her off, loud cap her in a public place and then shake your heads and say “shame on her” when she responds to the barefaced disrespect being hurled at her.
What she did when she gave him the finger back was not “ghetto” or “trashy” or “common”. It was human. As far as we know, not once has Mayor Cantrell come out of character unless she was provoked.
First it was the drunk White dude at Polo Club Lounge bar. Remember him back in the fall of 2021. He talked real big crap at and about the Mayor from across room, but got extra quiet in classic Ken fashion when she got in his face and told him her name.
Now this jackoff . . . this joker riding with the Krewe of Tucks flips her off and verbally assaults her. And the rest of y’all running around here talking about did you see LaToya Cantrell flip her middle finger at that float with your “oh my, well, I’ve never” attitudes. Yes you have.
What was she supposed to do – give him a key to city?
We will not sit silently while the rest of you cast her as the angry Black woman or use words like “hood” or “ghetto” to describe her because we know that those words are just code for racial insults.
So what are we saying? She should have flipped him the bird . . . and then some. And Kneegrows better wake up! There are interests in this City that have been flipping you the bird in some very real and deleterious ways all of your lives. They are flipping you off right now, even as you continue to allow and cosign this assault against Black leadership. But if you keep doing what you doing, they won’t have to flip you off any more because you won’t even matter.