A Voice For The Voiceless
I am tired. Tired of these empty promises from politicians who have shown me over and over again that I can not trust them. With so much going on in the world, I could focus my anger and rage on international or national politics pertaining to people of color. I am focused on Atlanta; although it is important to look over the world’s fence at the endless fields of racism, terrorism, capitalism, colorism, sexism and every other "ism" aimed at people of color, my own yard is terribly out of order.

Atlanta has been my home for nearly three decades and I have seen this city go from being a soulful promise to a soulless gentrified ghost. Over the past week of unrest, protest and riots, Atlanta has made it clear to me and so many others that new leadership is needed within our city. The current state of political and community figurehead leadership is completely disconnected from the needs of the people.

As a father, husband, son, brother, uncle and friend I have learned that true leaders lead from the front while preparing for the hard times during the soft times. During the soft times, Atlanta’s leadership teams have been completely out of focus on what is right for our communities on so many levels. From supporting and growing small businesses, public education, community programs, Atlanta’s figurehead leaders have been asleep at the wheel.

Then again, maybe they have been wide awake as they work the agendas of the real leaders, perhaps I am not looking at this correctly. It could be that Atlanta’s leadership teams are only focused on supporting, funding and growing BIG business, while using our artists and creatives as goats to clear the pathway for gentrification in once bombed out areas like Castleberry Hills. Atlanta’s public education is merely a punchline in a school-to-prison pipeline joke. Instead of creating community employment and entrepreneurship programs to help our youth, our city’s young children who sell bottles of water on our city streets are arrested for doing so. Again, maybe I am not looking at things correctly.

During a recent press conference held by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom, Killer Mike, and T.I. passionately spoke about the need for our people not to destroy our communities. “Our communities.” Those two words kept banging around in my head as I watched their performances for their real audience. They were not talking to the people in the streets who were protesting and rioting. They were talking to those who really run and own Atlanta. That was an Oscar-worthy performance to protect their business interest. Nothing more. “Our communities.”

For people to value a community, a community has to value its people. For decades, Atlanta’s leadership teams have made it crystal clear that the best interest of the people is not a priority. How can this city fail our people within every single sector and then expect for us to have some sense of pride and ownership within our communities? WE DON’T OWN MUCH OF ANYTHING IN ATLANTA! We can’t place our children on a school bus to go get a decent education, unless you live in the white exclusive neighborhoods of Atlanta. (As a Black parent, that creates a number of other social problems for our children.) Growing a small business in Atlanta is nearly impossible, it is some sort of hellish obstacle course. The level of consistent city-led support and opportunities for professional artists is nearly nonexistent. So when these leadership figureheads speak to us about not rioting and urging our people to protest peacefully within “our” community that sounds ridiculous. Clearly Atlanta’s real leaders and our figurehead leaders have been at war against our citizens for decades. The people are now finally waking up to that reality.

Take the steady neglect of Atlanta, the current economic recession, the federal government’s ongoing support of the white nationalist agenda, police brutality and mix those items with the impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone, this created a perfect storm for a revolution. During the soft times, these Atlanta figure heads and “leaders” have not invested in our communities in the ways needed. Now as we are moving to the center of these hard times it has become painfully clear to everyone that these figureheads are tone-deaf and not worth listening to. This revolutionary song of 2020 does not harmonize well with the we shall overcome songs from the 1960s. Mayor Bottoms spoke about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his peaceful protesting ideology, his life did not end peacefully by natural causes. As we all know, Dr. King’s life was taken violently and now our people are tired of this same song and dance.

These figurehead leaders have failed generations of Black people in Atlanta. Our people are living examples of those failures and we can’t hear this leadership teams' cries over our raging hunger pains. We simply can’t hear you from your lofty and disconnected seats within Atlanta’s skybox section of politics. We are not in Wakanada T.I., this is real-life where our refrigerators are empty and so many of our people are unemployed. Small businesses are gone and will be nearly impossible to return. Killer Mike you should not be promoting for us to “Kill Our Masters” then when we take to the streets you tell us to go back home. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms you spoke with passion for your handlers, but the people simply can’t hear you.

Go home and starve is what you all are telling us. Don’t destroy Atlanta’s real leaders' properties is what you all are telling us. The curtain has been snatched down by our new breed of freedom fighters and these self-serving promoters of “The Atlanta Way” have been exposed. New leadership will emerge from these ashes. These new leaders will not be manufactured by Atlanta’s privileged groups who are totally disconnected from the realities of the people. My opinion is one thing, but the reality of our leaders’ priorities are currently within the refrigerators and bank accounts of the people - EMPTY.

Editorial Director & Publisher
Executive Creative Director
Cultural Affairs purchases an
Okeeba Jubalo original painting
for the city's Fine Art collection

Our team at NobleSol Art Group would like to thank
48" X 60"

By  Robin Givhan  
The kente cloth spectacle. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)