Boycott Classic to show we care

It has been a year since Katrina. The pain, the anger and the feeling of outrage at the obvious lack of concern by this country’s government for the suffering of the thousands of victims still remain fresh within me. I want to begin this message by thanking the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan for breaking the story of the levees being purposefully blown up during his tour last year. When the levees were blown up, thousands of Black people were murdered or displaced. I am of the opinion that the man-created flood that came about after the hurricane is what killed thousands of the Black residents of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. I also want to thank hip-hop performer Kanye West for having the guts to use his celebrity – while possibly risking his career – to speak from his heart about this on live television last year. I would also like to send a shout to New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne for a song called "Georgia Bush," which he dedicated to the victims of Katrina and the murderous man-created flood. Finally, I would like to thank Spike Lee for the HBO documentary, When the Levees Broke. He put the finishing touches on what we all knew or at least suspected as it relates the pain and anguish the people of New Orleans experienced as they were being victimized. He showed us the images of persecution that no race or culture of people should ever have to endure. Spike showed us in his documentary what Kanye West said last year with much conviction; "George Bush does not like Black people. George Bush does not care about Black people."During Mardi Gras this year, I was outraged at a news report on television that showed a handful of white people drinking, partying and getting their freak on on Bourbon Street. I thought this behavior was a slap in the face of all of the victims who were either murdered or displaced by the hurricane and flood just months prior to Mardi Gras. It was like they were spitting and pissing on the graves and memories of those killed or displaced.There were people who were still homeless and hungry as these disrespectful, unfeeling savages ate, drank and lusted on the flesh of each other as if in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah right there on Bourbon Street. New Orleans had no business attempting to revive tourism at the expense of the dead and displaced! I guess since the victims were Black, it did not matter to the city’s leadership. Where is the memorial to the victims? Where is the restitution for the families of the victims?The next major event scheduled to take place in New Orleans is the Bayou Classic on Thanksgiving weekend. The Classic is the powerhouse of all football classics that pits two of the finest historically Black universities in the nation, Grambling State University and Southern University-Baton Rouge, against each other in the Louisiana Superdome for the mother of all football games. This legendary football rivalry has attracted a 70,000 plus crowd at the superdome in New Orleans for many years leading up to Hurricane Katrina.Last year, the Classic was held in Houston because of the post-Katrina damage to the Superdome. The festivities that accompany the football game include the world famous battle of the bands, a blues concert and the annual Bayou Classic Step Show competition. I can’t even begin to tell you the millions of dollars that are generated in New Orleans while this Classic weekend is taking place.Be that as it may, I cannot be a part of such an event in this particular city. I cannot travel to New Orleans for the Bayou Classic to revel and celebrate when there is nothing to celebrate in the city. Black people were murdered there in large numbers last year, and the leadership has been silent. The city appears to want a "new" New Orleans without the large population of Black people who once called it home. I will not spend my money in a city that really does not want people who look like me living there.I cannot see myself ever traveling there again for leisure activities as long as this perceived effort to create a new white New Orleans is taking place. I won’t spend money in the city to aid in this program. The Katrina tragedy reminds me of the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia some years back. The hurricane and the man-created flood cleansed New Orleans of the ethnicity that made it the classy and culturally rich city is used to be before Katrina!As a proud graduate of GSU, I am appealing to all current and former GSU students to BOYCOTT the Classic this year. Do not attend this year or any year until New Orleans acts like it wants its Black residents back! If you value our people and empathize with families who lost loved ones, join me in showing them the respect long overdue by taking a stand. To Coach Spears and President Judson, I appeal to your conscience and belief in what’s right to either cancel the game or move it. I appeal to student leaders at GSU. This would be the best time to show the student body what leadership is all about. I would like to appeal to the entire Jaguar family of students, faculty and administrators to join in this boycott. This year’s Classic should be spent paying tribute to the memory of those killed last year, and the football game should be moved back to Houston or some other city. Better yet, it should not played at all.Rico Rivers is a 1994 and 1996 graduate of GSU who now lives in Memphis, Tenn.