May 17, 2017

Colorblind New Mexico

Elder Michael Jefferson

Around the hood many believe that Bill Peifer, Bernalillo Democratic Party Chair colorblind comments made last week, while very offensive and demeaning, may actually be a clue as to why a Democratic-majority State Legislature failed to provide funding to the state’s African American Performing Art Center. Although they had no problem appropriating funding from the budget for both the Hispanic and the Native American Culture centers. And it is not the first time in a session the Legislature has totally dismissed projects and/or items specific to the black community.  The center bears the name of House Majority Leader Sheryl William Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, who happens to be black. Sorry, my bad, that’s right you’re colorblind.

While hanging out at A Better U, the word on the street is that during the University of New Mexico’s search for a new head Men’s Basketball Team coach not one black coach was included within the list of potential candidates for the position. And furthermore, no black administrators or faculty were even casualy offered the opportunity to provide input within the selection process of a program manned by more than 50 percent by African American students.  Two questions were posed that merit mention: Would this have occurred if there were more African Americans working within the UNM Athletic Department and/or the Men’s Basketball Department? Is UMN, who still does not have a black person sitting on the board of regents, making greater efforts to eradicate institutional racism on its campus as the school promised following hazing incidents aimed at black students two years ago? Sorry, my bad, that’s right like the Bernalillo Democratic Party, and the New Mexico State Democratic Party, you’re colorblind.

Has anyone noticed that a great amount of the ART project construction emphases is near and around the Confederate Monuments in Old Town?  The same monuments that Mayor Richard Berry, Albuquerque, promised the Albuquerque African American community he would removed or modify over two years ago? While some still insist these monuments represent New Mexico’s heritage, the fact remains that this commemoration is sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), an organization that has been directly tied to the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations throughout its history. Yet, when completed, ART will bring all visitors and residents of the state right to a commemoration of one of this nation’s most atrocious acts against humanity: The Slavery of Black people.  Oh, I’m sorry, my bad, like Bernalillo Democratic Party, New Mexico State Democratic Party, and the University of New Mexico, the Mayor’s office and city of Albuquerque is also colorblind.

With the APS 2016 – 2017 coming to a close over the next few weeks headlined by high school and middle school graduations, many in the African American community are interested in the plans of the APS Board to address discriminatory disciplinary practices  throughout the schools in the district prior to the beginning the next school year. Many groups, including Black Parents of New Mexico, have been urging the APS Board to look into the disproportion number of as well as the severity of expulsions and suspensions administered to African American students.  Throughout the nation this practice is the catalyst of the prison pipeline that plagues the family and youth while deteriorating life at large for all of society. This past February, a more progressive mindset appeared to have been elected to the board; a mindset that should embrace the belief that everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent, fulfilling and economically secure life. However, I must note that traditional progressives do not believe race is endemic to the American experience and furthermore, there is not one black person sitting on the school board. Oh, I’m sorry, my bad, like the Bernalillo Democratic Party, the New Mexico State Democratic Party, the University of New Mexico, the Mayor’s office and city of Albuquerque, you’re all so, so, colorblind.

Elder Michael Jefferson is a minister at Procession Ministries in Albuquerque.