". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Friday, June 20, 2008

Racisim Still, So Alive, So Well

This was sent to us by New Orleans recording studio owner, Mark Bingham. He's a most reputable source. I am passing this on, as is requested by the Musicians Clinic.


[ Begin forwarded message:
From: Musicians Clinic Mailing List <>
Date: June 20, 2008 11:29:06 AM CDT

Subject: Re: [Musicians Clinic] It is alive and well.

Everybody,I just read this, sent to me by my good friend, Todd Duke. My anger and shame is palpable. As a white man, raised in Natchitoches, and surrounded by Jim Crow all my young life, I am not surprised at this story. I am shocked and outraged, but not surprised. This narrative should be sent to newspapers read by a variety of people, black and white, like the New Orleans Times-Picayune or even The Gambit.

Stories like this one tend to get hidden within e-mails to a number of friends. It should be out there for thewhole world to see. Every time this happens, we should broadcast it all over the place. EVERY TIME! The term "Racism" is much too polite a word. Another wordshould be invented that has an even more negative power, more shameful and more vile. The story of the Jenna Six made me want to crawl into a hole. Once again, Louisiana was presented to the world as a stupid and backward place where rampant racism still not only was accepted, but thrived. I, too, have a large network of friends around the country. I am sending this to all of them today. It is not enough for us to stand around, shifting ourbalance from one foot to the other, muttering under our breath and shaking our heads. It is NOT enough.

Please find the following account as reported to The New Orleans Agenda:

"May 20, 2008 was one of the saddest days of our lives. It was the day we realized that racism still exists in this world. Or should I say in Gretna. I guess on some level we still know that racism exists but it's a harder realization when you experience racism personally. For us, it became a reality at the Red Maple Restaurant (1036 Lafayette Street, Gretna, LA 70053).

A reservation was made prior to the arrival at the restaurant. We were celebrating our son's graduation from Hahnville High in Boutte. We had nine people in the party. We arrived around 8:20 PM and we were seated in a room away from all the other patrons. Not realizing we were being discriminated against we were not even offered the complimentary amenity of bread and butter while waiting to be serviced. One of our party guests asked the waitress about this and was told she forgot to offer this amenity to us. She apologized and did get the bread. Atthis point, still not realizing we were being discriminated against, Our orders were taken and we received our appetizers around 9:00 PM.

As 10:00 approached the children that were in the party had fallen asleep, and the adults were getting restless. The head of the party asked the waitress how much longer we were going to have to wait for our food. The waitress said not long. Ten minutes had passed and still no food had arrived. Finally we could no longer wait and we asked for the bill. We asked to pay for the appetizers and the drinks. We told the rest of the party they could wait for us outside. Wewere given a bill for $275.00 and told to pay cash only. The Red Maple does accept all credit cards but we were told by the owner/manager on duty that he would not take credit cards from our kind of people.

The owner had then called the police and immediately 2 cars arrived at the restaurant. All four policeofficers were white males. The police got out of their cars and began to speak to the owner/manager. One of the police officers then approached a member in the party, put his hand in her face and said for her to pay cash or go to jail. The member of the party told this police officer that no food had arrived and that we should not have to pay for food we did not receive. The police officer said he did not want to hear what we had to say and to either pay or go to jail.
So, we had no choice and $275.00 was paid in cash.

The police office said if you don't have it we'll take you to an ATM machine, after begging and borrowing the money from the children in the party. The owner then told us to never come back, that we were in Jefferson Parish and not Orleans Parish, and for us to tell our friends not to come there. Owner/manger remarked that you kind of people are not welcomed here.

The police were called out to protect and serve the owner/manager. Our rights were violated and we were discriminated against because of the color of our skin. We did not serve a threat to anybody. We did not have a problem paying for what we consumed, but we should not have been forced to pay for food we did not receive. Our voices were not raised and when the police came our voices had no sound. It is 2008, when will this nonsense end. This was the same Police Force that would not let African American cross the bridge for food and water during Katrina. Businesses like this should not be in existence. It is time for us to stop being passive about this kind of treatment and take a stand and pass this on.

We are out the money for food we did not eat and most of all our dignity was lost by the ugliness of this Business Owner (BRENT TRAUTH)/manager on duty. This should not have happened this way especially in front of the children that we are trying to teach respectfully.

Jerry & Patricia G. Miles
Phone: 504-270-5039, FAX: 504-595-3868
--George French
The George French Band
504-723-4106 cell

Musicians Clinic mailing list ]


Frank Partisan said...

I heard about that incident, but not in so much detail.

I was involved with Jena6 defense work. It turned out there was irregularitiesn with funds that were raised for the defense. Even the NAACP took $$ off the top.

Foxessa said...

Another friend, to whom I posted this letter, informs me that the letter was posted on June 9th to the Gretna city guide online. 72 hours ago it was removed, with no comment, no explanation, no response as to why.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

The thing is, that Gretna being Gretna, any restaurant there putting up a sign saying "No N*ggers" would gets lots and lots and lots of business. This is the police dept., recall, whose sheriff illegally went to the Algiers end of the bridge, which is part of New Orleans, i.e. Orleans parish, and refused at gunpoint to allow flood victims to cross -- many of whom lived in, owned homes in, Algiers. Algiers isn't his jurisdiction.

I've hears so many stories about the shameful circus that the Jena6 became.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

Ren -- Did you read about the KKK sign etched in a black family's lawn back in May, shortly after they moved into their house in Metairie? This story did make it into the Times-Picyune. (Metairie's the home of David Duke.)

Love, C.

K. said...

In Down In New Orleans, Billy Sothern gives a detailed account of the incident at the bridge. He describes the Jefferson Parish as being openly and unapologetically racist. It's like something out of Mississippi at the time of the Freedom Riders.

Foxessa said...

No kidding, re Jefferson parish. Look for whom its named for even, the most hypocritical, debt-ridden, living literally on his slaves, old Thomas Jefferson.

There's a rebuttal by the Red Maple restaurant, but there's no link -- it was forwarded out of a newsgroup. No numbers or e-mails, "what somebody told me."

So, what to think? Other than it seems all so likely that such a thing did happen, because of such things having happened in that way so many times in the past, in that parish, in that state, in that region.

The sins of the fathers will be visited upon the children, but sometimes it comes out differently than expected.

Our national tragedy, our national shame. And that's just the beginning of our national tragedies and shames.

Love, C.