101419 St. George precinct vote map

I have to wonder, in the bigger scheme of things, what the outcome of the St. George incorporation vote says about American democracy and the American dream. Was forced/mandated integration and busing within American public schools all for naught? Is true integration even possible anymore? Or is it always a moot attempt because a certain subset of folks will consistently find a way to undermine the law and frame that undermining as something else?

I truly can only have faith that on the other side of this long history of bigotry and distancing, that there is a blessing in store for those that have suffered the most in our efforts to keep the city together. Those efforts were valiant and necessary, but behind the battle, many are left scarred. Citizens of the actual, incorporated city of Baton Rouge and of the parish as a whole gave up tax dollars, relinquished necessary social justice changes and conversations in hopes of maintaining some sort of peace that would ensure that St. George would feel comfortable enough to stay. But that did not happen.

Now is a good time to think about how we recover, who we become and also how we support other places in Louisiana by passing on the lessons we have learned. Beyond not over-investing in unincorporated areas, our Louisiana cities need to make sure to have the right conversations about public schools. Public schools are the purest reflection and foundation of any productive society. And when they are suffering, segregated, diminished in value and admonished, divisions grow deeper. The impact of relegating diverse poor black/brown/other public schools to a lower societal value reverberates throughout our communities and worsens wealth gaps, poverty and destroys any sense of community. At the very least, no matter the road ahead for the city of Baton Rouge, I am getting the courage to envision a prosperous and equitable one, where the people within Baton Rouge no longer have to adhere to the risky demands of an unappeasable St. George leader without a plan.

ANGELLE BRADFORD

doctoral student in medicine

Baton Rouge

Our Views: Moving forward with St. George step by step