I think I have poison ivy. It could be oak.
While working in my garden at home last week, my arm started itching with what I thought was a bug bite of some sort.
I didn’t give it a second thought, as we all know the mosquitoes around Louisiana are not uncommon – I simply chalked it up to an itchy bite.
But after days passed and a sort of rash started appearing and the “bite” started blistering and continuing to itch badly, I talked to a doctor friend of mine and he suggested I go to a pharmacy and get some calamine lotion to put on what may be poison ivy or poison oak rashes.
I was dumbfounded that I had not thought my “bug bite” could have been anything other than what I thought it was – but it turned out to be a bit more complicated, or more serious, than I initially thought.
I have been attending the Port Allen committee and council meetings over the past few months and it has been quite apparent that the mayor, council and even residents are dealing with an itch and a rash of racial tension.
Once the mayor, a black female, was voted into office and began in January, she has been on the offense with her decision making.
She pushed her salary back up to its original mark that prior mayors were afforded, she fired her CFO, she nixed payment on an SUV for the fire chief, and most recently, she vetoed an ordinance that states clearly what department heads are in the city.
Mayor Slaughter has seemingly been backed by two of five council members, Ray Helen Lawrence, a black woman; and Brandon Brown, a black man. She has been opposed nearly every step of her term so far by three council members, Hugh Riviere, R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble - all white men.
I am not stating that race has, or has had, anything to do with the way the council has voted – I am simply stating what residents have pointed out during the recent council meetings.
So just as I had an itch and a couple of bumps on my arm, the city of Port Allen seems to be dealing with problems that, on the surface, seem to have a solution as easy as simply saying “let’s get along,” or scratching the edges of a mosquito bite that will go away within a few minutes or hours.
But the problem actually seems to go a bit deeper than such a simple solution. There needs to be a treatment within the council as well as the community.
An 8-page overly biased, and downright libel essay has been circulating through the Port Allen area for a couple of weeks that has ridiculous claims of racism of people throughout the parish – many of which are council members and employees of Port Allen. It even goes as far as to say that one of the employees belongs to the KKK – which is completely unfounded and has no way of being proven, as well as many of the other claims in the paper.
This essay as well as many of the comments that have been spoken to friends, to the council, under our breathes, on Facebook posts, in our heads and more, is what the problem is.
The issue goes further. It’s not an itch we can simply scratch and be done with. It’s a poison that must be treated.
We’ve got to train ourselves to stop speaking certain ways. Stop thinking prejudicially – which is simply judging based on outward appearance. And our local governmental officials need to start voting according to what they know is right – not based on who they think is on their “side.”
We are all on the same side. It’s been said plenty of times that we are really all one race – the human race.
So, please, take this calamine lotion called forgiveness and love and apply it to all the infected areas.
It’s a good start.