Baton Rouge is a highly toxic city in the realm of race relations. We put on this front like we are such a great place to live and so much good is happening here, but we have a long way to go. Over the past two years I’ve dedicated much of my work toward helping address some of the social ills of our community. I speak harsh truths and that has not made me a lot of friends in the white community. Even some in the black community oppose my blunt approach in confronting racism and systemic issues of discrimination that have gone on far too long in this community.
Yesterday after closing out my afternoon meetings, I logged on to Facebook. When I logged on, I was logged out. A clear sign from Facebook that something is wrong. When I logged back in there was a notification that a post had been removed for violating policies. The next notification was that I was banned for 30 days from posting. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Last year after pressing for police reform here in Baton Rouge after the killing of Alton Sterling I was reported and banned for 15 days. After that issue I created a separate Facebook account and a Facebook page in an attempt to ensure that there was some way to communicate with people if something of importance happened in our city that needed addressing.
Facebook is a useful tool. So are all the other social media platforms. It allows people to stay connected to old friends and family. It allows voices like mine who are often muted in mainstream media to freely communicate with like minded people, and it keeps people connected. Social media is powerful. When you look at the recent events in Texas with hurricane Harvey, there were people who were rescued because they shared a post on social media that was shared with rescue crews, because phone lines were backed up in some areas. With this same power to do good and communicate, comes the same power to attack and do harm.
I am not the first, and will not be the last person that these small minded people attack. There is currently in Baton Rouge a political and racial climate that is almost sickening. If a black person is too vocal and speaks against issues that are clearly associated with racial discrimination they are told “stop race baiting.” There is no such thing as “race baiting” it is a term used by people who oppose people stating facts about racial issues. There is currently a Facebook group with thousands of members calling for the recall of Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, the first black woman elected mayor of Baton Rouge. Not because she’s done anything wrong, but because they don’t want her. There have been activist and community advocates attacked on websites like tigerdroppings.com as well as on Facebook by people who often create fake profiles and troll people.
The real problem is that, Facebook has no real way of monitoring who is really the problem. Is it wrong to call out racism and bigotry? Or is it wrong to be a racist or a bigot? Currently there is a Facebook page that mocks my company The Rouge Collection, they created a counter page called The Rogue Collection. They use it to spew hateful comments about myself, the mayor, and other community leaders from the black community.
How do I know it’s racism? There only reason for attacking most of the people they attack is because we address issues of race in this community. We aren’t fearful about standing up for what is right. So they have now began to resort to joining together to report pages like mine in an attempt to mute my voice. It has always been the way of racist to mute the voice of any black leader who dare speaks against the injustices that take place in our country.
As a result of the work we’ve done since The Rouge Collection started in 2012 and specifically our focus around north Baton Rouge, equity, and police accountability over the last two years we have grown a large following. Not because we are special, but because people care about the issues we are talking about. So I need your help. We have to get the attention of Facebook, because this isn’t just happening to me. It has happened to community advocates around the country. It happens far too often, when people of color speak up, the bigots want to silence them. The same power they are using to try and stop the work of spreading truth, we can use to demand that our portals of access to truth not be muted. If they don’t want to hear it, don’t follow. Don’t like, don’t share. These same people spend hours attempting to fat shame me, speak disrespectfully against women, and have even made threats against myself and others. Yet, somehow we are the problem.
Let me be clear. I am not angry. I am more motivated now than ever. There is a saying, that if no one is talking about you then you aren’t doing anything. The thousands of comments on tigerdroppings.com the attacks on social media, the attempts to silence the work we are doing to call out wrong, is proof that we are headed in the right direction. There is a fear in that segment of our community, that others doing better some how means they are going to do worse. It is false, and will be proven false as we continue to progress. I ask for your help by simply sharing this story and @ Facebook when you do. Let them see who is really wrong. The attached screen shots show you who the real problem is. It is not the voices calling for change in this community.