In Los Angeles, the local government redistricting process has concluded, at least the city council aspect, and not a minute too soon. It has been painful for the black community to watch its leadership implode, and turn on each other as they have. Where was Rodney King when we needed him? Oh, that’s right…they’re holding him for April and the 20th Anniversary recognition of the '92 riots. Plus, the “all get along” speech wouldn’t affect LA's three black city councilpersons Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, and Herb Wesson -- very much -- at this juncture. They don’t need motivation speeches. They need therapy.
Some are suggesting it is too late for them to make up. I don’t believe that it is the case. I believe it’s too late to make up in the redistricting process or to change the outcome of it. That should’ve been taken into consideration a little earlier -- like before the councilpersons in the 8th and 9th districts -- Parks and Perry -- decided they wanted to front off the Council President, Herb Wesson.
The history-making Council President, I might add. It might have saved the community a whole bunch of “Eeeoooeewwws” and “Daaaammmnnns,” and as well as might have saved downtown and Leimert Park. Contrition is not any of these councilperson’s strong suits…but it might have worked in a spirit of cooperation.
Instead, Parks and Perry went straight at Wesson in the most belligerent manner they could. And the outcome hasn’t been pretty. The question is, did the constituents of the 8th and the 9th districts pay a price for their representatives’ belligerence? Probably, but then there may be a lesson here.
The problem here was that these politicians representing the 8th and 9th district forgot who had the real power in this process, and were so arrogant and belligerent that they made a mockery of the process, and of themselves.
You can’t talk to people any kind of way, or talk down to people and expect them to come to your aid when your tail gets caught in a trap. And that was the case with both these councilmembers. They both talk crazy to you, their colleagues, their constituents and then they expect you to ride along with them whether you agree with them or not. That’s the reputation both these politicians have garnered, and they handcuffed themselves to each other.
So even if you wanted to help one, you couldn’t without helping the other and that was unfortunate because they have divergent interests. For instance, this wasn’t the first time they tried to take downtown out of the 9th district. They tried ten years ago during the redistricting process. The difference was that 1,100 people showed up in support of their councilperson and downtown stayed put. This time, they could barely pull 300-400, for two districts, because most of the community stayed away.
What a difference a decade makes - and so did this new attitude this same councilperson had from 10 years ago had. The different attitude brought forth a confliction in the community.
The conflict got in the way because one of the councilpersons the community wouldn’t spit on if he were set on fire. The other one, the animus isn’t as great. The community would probably just turn their back, ignore the screams and call 911.
The community was conflicted - but not that conflicted because they were dissing the City Council President, who was also from the community, and who - quite frankly - the community likes. The community is proud of his accomplishment and expected their leaders to show deference to it. They didn’t.
So, as much as the community tried to stay out of it, it wasn’t much of a choice as to whose side the community would take. But the absence of contriteness only fueled an impending fire. The two belligerents ended up crashing and burning, handcuffed together, while the rest of the City Council voted 13 to 2 to accept the redistricting plan. They didn’t go quietly. Not without giving up the ghost first. Toward the end of the fight, it got BUTT ugly.
I don’t think I’ve seen this much pimp-slapping take place in one beat down since Pretty Tony put it down in the movie, The Mack, 40 years ago, with all the “Damn, Daddy, don’t beat me so hard. I feel your power. I’m sorry Daddy” pleading goin’ on. In fact, I put the DVD in just to make sure, and sure enough, the Council President had him beat. The Council President put it on ’em cold. Then you know you gotta’ be cold when you b--- slap a cop…and he’s still b--- slappin’ him. But they made him “go there” by disrespecting him in such a publicly belligerent way.
They want to cry racism and everything else, but all it really came down to was showing a little respect, as Aretha once said. You can’t get love if you don’t give love and the Council President got no love - and he gave no love. Why should he? And he didn’t. Not one single once.
Time will tell if the community pays a price for the loss of downtown. Leimert Park is now in the Council President’s district, so there may actually be some economic growth there. One thing we know…
There is a price for belligerence, it is steep, and Jan Perry and Bernie Parks paid dearly.