An open letter to the SJBP Council

Published 11:40 am Saturday, June 13, 2020

Greeting Council members:

My name is Derron Cook, and I come to you as a concerned African American member of this community. As the world has witnessed once again, the trauma is seen far too often in our communities, by members of law enforcement brought on by unseen laws, biases and systemic oppressions that creates food droughts, financial distress and health disparities within the African American communities and communities of color. As the world takes this moment to grieve with public outcry and anger through demonstrations, protests and public demand, it is also of the utmost importance that locally we begin to open our eyes, hearts and mouths to cry out that “Black Lives Matter,” and our communities matter. As the world demonstrates, members of your communities are asking and looking for their representatives to provide some sort of statement in regards to this world event. It is not enough to just make generalized statements, but it is important that we begin to identify with members of the community, and assure them that you know all too well their feelings and that you are here for them. It is important that white members of this panel [SJBP Council], identify as such and make a statement that says you stand with the African American community as we again attempt to cash in on the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as promised in our Declaration of Independence.

As America and the world gasps and fights to take in a breath, we ask that the distress of the members of your community does not go unseen and unheard. This is the moment that this council can take up a resolution to provide within our communities true recreational and safe spaces for our young men and women. This is the time that you take up arms and truly protect your citizens from pollution and environmental discrimination. This is the moment, as we inhale America’s promise, which we provide financial and wealth-building classes for members of our minority communities. We are the stories and the heart of St. John’s tourism, plantations and uprising.

The death of world citizen, George Floyd, as seen live, is only symbolic of the oppression that African Americans had borne for 401 years. So with Juneteenth approaching, and with June being Black Music Month (just one of African Americans’ contributions to the soul of America), I ask that we come off our knees in memory of Mr. Floyd and rise to grant and fulfill the promises of America that is far to often never realized by Africans in America.

I ask that every member of this council pledge to improve the lives of every black citizen of St. John and that you here and now affirm, individually, that “Black Lives Matter.”

Derron C. Cook, Sr.
Resident of St. John the Baptist Parish