Published On: Fri, Nov 13th, 2015

Shaundra McKeithen: The racial divide is genocide in Savannah

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (OS) — I’m a black professional woman, so much of what I am about to say cannot be said by most white people because they would immediately be accused of racism. What I’m about to say will not be said by many other black professionals, leaders, clergy, or politicians because they are too afraid of being ostracized by African Americans who want to maintain the status quo here in Savannah.

This morning my friend Detric Legget called me. He was so depressed because he received a notice from many black people that he had done the unthinkable, supported Bill Durrence over Mary Osborne, a white man over a black woman in the Dec. 1 runoff election in the 2nd District aldermanic race.

Well, I support what he did for the following reasons.

First, in no other time in Savannah have we had so many African Americans holding public office from the local to the state levels of government. Our current Mayor Edna Jackson routinely talks about her role in the civil rights movement and how we should all stick together (code for VOTE black), and many of the older and middle aged black people join in with the chorus and sing “We Shall Overcome.” However, we have not overcome one bit!

Look around at our neighborhoods. Look at the black neighborhoods in the First, Second, Third, and Fifth Districts. Walk down Waters Avenue from Gwinnett Street to Victory Drive. Walk Montgomery Street from Gwinnett Street to Derenne Avenue, or MLK Boulevard from Hall to 52nd Streets, and tell me if you see the results you were looking for when you voted many of these black leaders in decades ago. Have we really overcome when not more than 40 percent of our children are graduating high school? Have we really overcome when our poverty rate in the black communities is between 39-47 percent, almost twice the city’s poverty rate? Have we overcome when we see more black men walking the streets and sitting on corners in the middle of the day when they should be working, but there are no jobs here for them? Have we really overcome when the median income for a black family in this city is about $18,000? I WILL NOT SING THAT SONG WITH YOU ANYMORE, until I get a return on my investment, black leaders!

The term genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group. Many of our current black leaders are guilty of this crime as it relates to the last two decades of citizens in the black community. They are able to get away with this crime because there is no one to hold them accountable. You can’t go to Mayor Jackson, Van Johnson, Carol Bell, Al Scott, Yusuf and Estella Shabazz, John Hall, Mary Osborne or the others and accuse them of racism. You can’t use the cry that many black people love to say, “The white man is holding me down.”

Look around black people — you have been sold back into slavery by your own people. In Africa, white men were not jumping off of boats with nets capturing blacks for slavery in America, they were sold in private meetings by the leaders of the tribes. The money was good, and they saw this as enterprise. Your poverty, crime, and lack of education are a systematic way to make you the walking dead. You have no power, you can’t leave the plantation. While your leaders appease you with a fish fry, or clean your streets nearing election time and encourage you to sing another old Negro spiritual, praying that you won’t be smart enough to ask for a return on your investment.

Detric Leggett knew what many of us know, but are too afraid to say it or stand up for it — he knows that voting for Mary Osborne would give the Second District the same things they have gotten in the past two of her terms… NOTHING. He would rather take a chance with a white man, who doesn’t know the struggles of being a black person in Savannah, in hopes that he can help him after he takes office get the things that were promised by our black leader for almost a decade.

He knows that voting for Mary is only enhancing genocide on our least powerful people in this community. He knows that we can and will confront Bill Durrence if he does not live up to his promises. I’m not voting for Edna in the run-off, not because I don’t love her. I surely do. I’m not voting for her because we have been led by her for 16 years and I personally am no better off today in Savannah than I was before I left this city many years ago.

We must work together white, black, brown, Democrat, Republican, Independent, male, female, straight, and LGBT in order for us to have a better Savannah. We must be one community, or a group will surely die. I close with one of my favorite quotes from John F. Kennedy… “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”


Shaundra McKeithen was a candidate in the race for the 5th District aldermanic seat, won by incumbent Alderman Estella Shabazz, 1,435 votes to 1,329 votes. She is contemplating a run for 5th District Commissioner next year against incumbent Commisssioner Yusuf Shabazz, Mrs. Shabazz’s husband.


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