Our community, Parramore, has and continues to be a story of tradition, pride and cohesion. Throughout our community’s history we have suffered, yet persevered, through oppression, subjugation and institutional racism. Indeed, since its inception, our beloved Parramore and her people were seen as bottom feeders meant to serve and answer to a power structure designed to facilitate White lives at the expense of Black ones. And this power structure engendered a legacy of institutionalized, and, in many ways, intentional neglect as it pertains to basic services necessary for survival and the ability to live a nominal lifestyle that should be available to everyone who resides in the world’s wealthiest nation.
This legacy, perpetuated by a “Jim Crow” mentality, continues today. Just because Jim Crow is officially illegal, does not mean the variables that perpetuate that system cannot and are not practiced to this very day. We are observing a new epoch of the Jim Crow mentality, and this is profoundly exemplified by the City of Orlando’s decision to permit the construction of a new Major League Soccer stadium in our community. The City’s decision makers, pushed by Mayor Buddy Dyer himself, have offered our community specious rhetoric associated with the need for the stadium like jobs and investments in our community. But we must ask ourselves, WHO will benefit most from this new construction that will change our community, potentially, forever?
The answer to this question is revealed in the process that led to the City’s approval. A process that ostracized the community, dictated to it instead of including it and perpetuated an iniquitous equation that will lead to colonization of our community in the form of gentrification. We will be displaced, left to fend for ourselves, while the colonizers vindicate their primordial Parramore paradigm– a dispensable community meant to serve those in power.
The Division Street doctrine continues, and now they want to push us farther west, north, south or wherever they can displace us. They used to intimidate us with nooses, white sheets and burning crosses. Now they want to intimidate us with their legion of lawyers, their flawed sense of due process, which includes an immoral, if not illegal, brand of eminent domain and the purchasing of lawmakers who are supposed to be serving the people. They think they can silence us, break us through a war of attrition and divide our people like they are trying to physically divide our community.
The Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer said “There is one thing you have got to learn about our movement. Three people are better than no people” and “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, and a Civil Rights Activist said “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
The sister warrior Ella Baker reminds us, “In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed… It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”
As it pertains to this soccer stadium and the process that allowed its construction, now is the time to devise means to change a system that is stacked against us, now is the time to come together and stand together, now is the time to demand that the power be placed where it is supposed to be, in the hand of the people, such that it can best serve the people. Now is the time to demand transparency and accountability.
For until this occurs there will indeed be no justice, there will be only Just-Us.