Saturday, September 10, 2005

I have not been comfortable since I was a child. Economically, I have been ok, but I have not been Comfortable --in terms of being Black, and liking men--since I was a child. Iabsolutely value my blackness and I love myself. Indeed , I think one should never be too comfortable because you loose your capacity for empathy. However, I do believe that all oppression must end.
Tonight's art gallery opening was quite nice. Quite wonderful I think Wafaa is an intriguing person. I also think Luis is cute.
Something Ive wanted to blog about for a while. The blues are a happy music, sung for purposes of liberation and release. I love the blues.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I just got done showing my class(es) Bulworth. My thoughts now are that the assasination of Bulworth portrayed in the film is eerie and is eeriely ( I know I am misspealling words today) of the so many other assasinations that took place--- king, Malcolm, Hampton, Clark....... God the list that goes on.
When I would ride the bus to school as a little boy, I often used to imagine that all of my ancestors, and in particular my great-grandmother would be standing outside of the bus window waving and smiling at me as I went off to school. Interesting thoughts.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Being Poor -- By John Scalzi, From Body and Soul

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.
SR is truly like a mother to me. She keeps me in line and steers me in the right direction. I have so many angels watching over me. "All night, all day, angels watching over me my lord All night, all day angels watching over me...."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I was feeling pretty jaded today and I still have my firm feeligs about this whole mess.Yet today, I talked to Sue who drives the bus. It really was good to hear from a good soul with a fresh perspective. Ah, humanity.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ok. How do I get rid of this spam?

From A Survivor of Katrina, Also a Blogger

Isn't Anybody Going To Help Them? It's Tuesday! WTF!?!
Matthew Nolan, resident of NOLA, blogger on Humid City:

Dear family, friends, U.S. Citizens, all of humanity:

I am safe. I am alive. My heart is broken. Thank you for your concern.

This hour, bodies are floating in my neighborhood. This hour, people are taking their last breath in home attics. There is no presence of government and relief in New Orleans after 6 days from the warning of Hurricane Katrina and 4 days from total death and destruction. I am sick with grief and anger at the lack of preparation and response by our government.

Last year I was left behind during Hurricane Ivan because I had no car, no money, no way out. Now, 100,000 people too poor to evacuate are dead or facing death. We live as minority families stuck in poverty and living on food stamps in the housing projects or as the starving artist like myself living out my dreams in the culturally unique city I love. These are my neighbors. We enjoy the Big Easy by riding our bikes, hopping on buses, and riding the streetcar. None of us have an automobile. No provisions were made to evacuate us via land transport or air. From President Bush, FEMA, to our local officials: They all knew we would die if directly hit by a hurricane. They left us all to die.

I refuse as a citizen and a social worker to cry my tears as a private expression only. There is no more time left. The pleas from the living in New Orleans cannot be heard. Communication is cut off. We can only see their desperate faces through the eye of a camera. They are dying. I petition every citizen to exercise our democratic rights now. Today I spoke with officials at the White House, Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House, and The President’s Press Office. I deflected the chatter of "relief is on its way, we appropriated funds today, the help is coming, FEMA this FEMA that." I told them NOW, NOW, NOW. You must tell them the same. This is not a disaster to observe. We must gather our private emotions of grief and channel them into action. We must come together. Who would speak for you if you were stuck dying in New Orleans?

Demand immediate response from our government officials by contacting them via phone and email within an hour of receiving this email, peacefully protest, call your newspaper, express your feelings in a letter to your congressman and the office of our President, and vote-out those who were responsible for preventing, preparing, and reacting to this disaster. A fundraising telethon is a "feel good" distraction from the starving, drowning, and rotting bodies in New Orleans. Place your initial efforts in the here and now.

You will find all the contact information you need at the web sites below. This is public information. We are the people. Our government represents us and wants to hear what we have to say. It is your right. It is your freedom. Call and email them all, NOW.

Click on or type in the web sites below:

Forward this email, print it off to distribute, post it, discuss it, organize to help.

Thank you for thinking of me. Lets now turn our thoughts to others.

The Alabama College System extends full tuition assistance to students

> Montgomery, Alabama-The Alabama College System will cover fall semester
> tuition and fees for students enrolled in the public community,
> technical, and junior colleges in Mississippi and Louisiana that cannot
> reopen due to catastrophic damage. Additionally, fall term tuition
> refunds will be granted to students in Alabama's two-year colleges who
> must withdraw due to circumstances related to Hurricane Katrina.
> "As the entire nation responds to those devastated by Hurricane Katrina,
> the community and technical colleges of Alabama will extend our help to
> students whose education has been dramatically interrupted. It's so
> early in the fall term, if students want to continue their education
> this fall, we'll cover their tuition and help them keep moving ahead.
> That's the most concrete help-and hope-we can provide," said Roy W.
> Johnson, Chancellor of The Alabama College System.
> Johnson made the announcement today, conveying this message to Governor
> Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of
> Louisiana and leadership of the two-year colleges. Alabama's college
> presidents, staff and faculty will help Louisiana and Mississippi
> students quickly move into appropriate courses and get oriented to stay
> on track. The Chancellor is encouraging the college communities to be
> prepared to lend students a hand in finding immediate housing and
> getting their feet on the ground.
> Some Alabama students' homes and communities suffered extensive damage,
> and they must make the difficult decision to withdraw for this semester.
> Though the time period for tuition refunds has passed, these students
> will be granted full refunds to lessen the hardships they are facing.
> Already a few community college students who serve in the Alabama
> National Guard have been called up for hurricane disaster relief duty.
> These students will also be eligible for tuition refunds.
> The Alabama College System is comprised of 25 community and technical
> colleges and one senior university. All of the community colleges are
> accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
> Academic, health science and technical degree programs are available.
> Students can find information on Alabama's community and technical
> colleges at

Hurricane Katrina Ravages HBCUs

From U.S. Black Engineer Magazine
Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina has affected several historically Black colleges
and universities, reports a news release distributed through Dillard University and Xavier University in New
Orleans and Tougaloo College in Mississippi are some of the HBCUs
with damaged campuses, the release said. The United Negro College
Fund has established a special fund to help hurricane-ravaged schools
in the gulf coast area. Relief Fund is
accepting donations to provide resources to support families who are
assisting those displaced as recovery efforts continue.
Sep 1, 2005, 09:42

Click Here to Help the People Of New Orleans

James Baldwin Quote

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own
destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state
of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself
into a monster.

New Orleans People's Committee

September 5, 2005, 3:30 p.m. CST

Press conference:

Tuesday, September 6, 2005
4:00 p.m. CST outside the Reliance Center at Kirby and McNee

New Orleans Black Community Leaders Charge Racism in Government Neglect of
Hurricane Survivors

Press conference to announce plan to save lives and demand role in
rebuilding effort

HOUSTON - A national alliance of black community leaders will announce the
formation of a New Orleans People's Committee to demand a decision-making
role in the short-term care of hurricane survivors and long-term rebuilding
of New Orleans.

Community Labor United (CLU), a New Orleans coalition of labor and community
activists, has put out a call to activists and organizations across the
country to work on a "people's campaign" of community redevelopment.
Organizing efforts will take place across hundreds of temporary shelters.

The population of New Orleans is 67 percent black and over 30 percent of the
population lives below the poverty line, reflecting the current demographic
of hurricane survivors displaced all over the South.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the White House, and
Governor Blanco attempt to regain the public's trust by evading the question
of who's to blame, a short and long-term plan for New Orleans hurricane
survivors has remained in a political vault of silence.

"This is plain, ugly, real racism," states Curtis Muhammad, CLU Organizing
Director. "While some politicians and organizations might skirt around the
issue of race, we in New Orleans are not afraid to call it what it is. The
moral values of our government is to 'shoot to kill' hungry, thirsty black
hurricane survivors for trying to live through the aftermath. This is not
just immoral-this has turned a natural disaster into a man-made disaster,
fueled by racism."

Leaders of CLU, in alliance with nearly twenty other local organizations and
several national organizations will discuss their plan at a press conference
on Tuesday, September 6, 2005, at 4:00 p.m. CST outside the Reliance Center
at Kirby and McNee. The coalition will announce:

· The formation of the New Orleans People's Committee composed of
hurricane survivors from each of the shelters, which will:

1. Demand to oversee FEMA, the Red Cross, and other organizations
collecting resources on behalf of the black community of New Orleans

2. Demand decision-making power in the long-term redevelopment of New

· Issue a national call for volunteers to assist with housing,
healthcare, education, and legal matters for the duration of the

Tax-exempt donations for the People's Committee and the national coalition
can be made out to: Young People's Project, 440 N. Mills St., Suite 200,
Jackson, MS 39202 or visit

Community Labor United is a coalition of progressive organizations in New
Orleans formed in 1998. Their mission is to build organizational unity and
support efforts that address poverty, racism, and education. CLU organized
in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane.

Curtis Muhammad is a veteran Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC) organizer and co-founder of CLU.

For more information, please contact:

Curtis Muhammad
Community Labor United (CLU)

Becky Belcore
Quality Education as a Civil Right (QECR)

Becky Belcore
Volunteer Organizer
Louisiana Research Institute for Community Empowerment (LaRICE)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

Subject: Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush
Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 05:18:40 -0400

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

Be Nobody's Darling

From Alice Walker

Be Nobody's Darling
by Alice Walker

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

Be nobody's darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.
I just got through watching this wonderful, poignant film with Gena Rowlands and Laura Linney called Wild Iris. Beautiful film.

My Friend Cecily Sent Me This Interesting Analysis

The Tide of Destruction Washed Away the Pretense of Equality

I’ve done my very best to keep this forum about sexual topics and restrict
serious discussion for the AfroerotiK yahoo group but my soul won’t let me do
that this month. AfroerotiK is about addressing issues of Black culture and
sexuality and healing us as a people and I can’t, in good consciousness, limit
this forum to issues of sexuality when there are so many other larger, more
sobering discussion that must be had.

Everyone has been affected by the news of Hurricane Katrina and it’s victims
who happen to be largely of color. The media has made no attempt to hide its
racist practices by portraying the economically disenfranchised Black people
that live there, whose lives have been devastated and destroyed, as thugs,
criminals, and lawless rouges while the fairer “victims� of Katrina are
portrayed as helpless and defenseless survivors trapped in dehumanizing
conditions. Down in Louisiana, with its vicious racist policies that allowed 30% of New
Orleans’ residents of color to live below an acceptable standard of living
and educational opportunity, with its governor having her lips dripping with
the words of interposition and nullification, calling her own devastated
constituents hoodlums and lawbreakers, the receding waters have revealed a
frightening reality in this so called land of opportunity. The commander in chief,
the leader of the free world that was elected for his supposed ability to lead
this country in times of terror, has turned an intentionally blind eye to
relief efforts and arrogantly thrown a pittance of aid and assistance as a
appeasement to those that might question his reaction. A few sound bites and a
few dollars absolves him of any guilt or complicity for the conditions of all
the areas devastated by Katrina in which people are color and people with no
means are involuntarily thrust into the limelight as America’s newest reality
television stars. There’s no million-dollar prize at the end of this game of
Survivor, there’s dehydration, starvation, and death for the losers and the
winners get unimaginable nightmares that will haunt them for the rest of their
natural lives.

White people (and Blacks that want to distance themselves from the heathen
behaviors of the people on the news) want to point the finger of indignation
and say, “Look at those animals, those ‘BLACKS’ down there, stealing
televisions and creating chaos. Look at them fighting and behaving like beasts and
savages.� White American can rest easy that Black people do in fact possess the
inherent criminal/inferior gene that predisposes them to acts of lawlessness
and savagery and it’s right there on the television to prove it. The
assumption is always that white people would NEVER behave that way under those
catastrophic conditions.

They’re right. They are absolutely correct. White people have never lived as
third class citizens in the richest nation in the world so it’s very
reasonable to assume that white people would be able to afford to pack up and leave
when the threat of impending danger was looming on the horizon. White people
would not have to wait for days for food and water and dry clothing because
there would be safe havens set up before the last rain drop fell that would
have provided cute little tote bags of toiletries and snack foods, insurance
agents to process claims and bank representatives to provide emergency loans as
they got off the evacuation buses. White victims of a tragedy like this
would have the nation rallying around them with signs of solidarity waving from
SUVs and flagpoles all around the nation. Moreover, when white people would
eventually behave in barbaric and uncivilized ways, the way anyone would do
under such dire circumstances, there would be a psychological term slapped on
it, a telethon to cure it, and the media would cover it more than the OJ Trial.

Newt Gingrich said, “If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw
coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to
respond to a nuclear or biological attack?� I’ll tell why the two are vastly
different. God forbid there was planned act of terror that would occur in a US
city, you’d see the nation rally around that cause, the draft would be
reinstated with the quickness, hundreds of billions of dollars would be given to big
businesses to aid them, and we’d be at war with Iran in three days time.
Bush never intended to have a plan to respond to the victims of the hurricane
and he hasn’t lost a minute’s sleep because of it. The plan to attack Iran has
been in place since the same illegal plan to invade Iraq was set in motion.
As long as there’s money to be made by Bush and his cronies, there’s a plan,
a backup, and a contingency all outlined.

It’s estimated that it’s going to take an estimate $56 billion dollars to
rebuild New Orleans. (That says nothing of the other devastated towns, hamlets
and villages that don’t have TV cameras there to chronicle their
devastation). Bush generously offered $10 Billion dollars to the relief effort. I guess
now he’s concerned about fiscal responsibility now and pinching pennies
because of the billions he’s spending to get an oil monopoly . . . I mean building
democracy in the Middle East Why not cough up $100 billion W? You are making
exponentially more than that by charging us $4.00 a gallon for gas. Why do
we, the American public, have to dig deep in our already strained pockets to
aid in the relief of these victims? This is the richest nation in the world.
Don’t pinch pennies when it comes to your own citizens.

Message boards all over the Internet are filled with posts from white people
that are espousing hatred and rejoicing that Katrina caused such devastation
and how they wished that it had killed all the (racial epithet) of New
Orleans. Black America has been feeling the pain of the racist tone since the
first reports of Black people being termed looters and white people were
miraculously finding food. We are supposed to accept our lot in life and not complain
because that’s the premise of this great nation. Black people, check your
birth certificate to see if you are classified as three-fifths of a human
being. Chances are, if you are poor and undereducated, it says you are because that
’s the way the government is treating us.

Where are the cries of God Bless America that followed 9/11? I guess people
want to save their prayers and petitions for causes all America can rally
around, not just the Black people. Where is the emergency midnight session for
Congress to pass illegal legislation like they did with one white woman who
was already dead while thousands of living people suffer without food and
water? Will America wear brown ribbons as a show of support for the flood victims
of Katrina? I think not. It is with this faith that we as a nation will be
able to hew out of the cesspool of despair a drop of hope.

Nothing will change. In two weeks, things will go back to normal. TV
stations will go back to being focused on some white girl missing in the Caribbean,
Sin City will have dried out and it will be old news. We’ll be tracking the
next hurricane that is set to hit Florida and airlifting everyone from The
Keys to Disney World to a safe haven. Black America will have digested yet
another bitter racist pill and swallowed it with a xenophobic chaser. Katrina has
washed away the pretense of equality in this country and we have been left
exposed and vulnerable.

Copyright 2005 Scottie Lowe
topic of Katrina's Aftermath.

This from Bellatrys

Words of Hope

Make no mistake, we are in dire straights now, as an empire.

On 9/11 we lost two skyscrapers, four jumbo jets, took a hit on the heart of our national defense headquarters, and some 3000 lives taken and thousands survivors' lives more wrecked.

This week, we lost a city.

Did you get that, "security moms"--? Did you get that, you "9/11 changed everything" voters?

New Orleans, for all intents and purposes, has just been nuked. This is worse than an ordinary bombing because the citizens cannot go back and take shelter in the rubble. It is uninhabitable, it will remain uninhabitable for months if ever, and it cannot be made safe to return to until all the unburied dead are taken out and the contaminated buildings either sterilized or torn down. The people who have survived are dispersed like Fallujans across the country, with whoever will take them in.

We haven't had a city bombed since we bombed ourselves to pieces in the War of Northern Aggression. Pearl Harbour - we talk all the time about Pearl Harbour, and what was Pearl Harbor? A minor port in the back end of nowhere that existed only for us to use as a refueling station, not one of the major metropolises of the world. "The size of Edinburgh" a British report said, to explain the magnitude - the capitol of Scotland. A major city, devastated - we are dealing with what we so casually have dealt to other countries, in Europe and Asia and Africa, and we have never ever had to face it, not since 1865.

So we really don't have a clue what we're facing, at all. Only second-hand, except for people who for whatever reason lived through the bombing and aftermath of their city, like Balkan immigrants.

We have lost a valuable strategic port, as truly as if it were taken by an enemy fleet, and more surely, for we must take it back from the Sea, not just mortal men; in the midst of a valuable, fertile region for agriculture and fishing as well as industry; we have lost a significant amount of our shipping ability and our land transportation will be impacted drastically as well; we have lost an irreplaceable thing, a national treasure, a living heritage of a time before modern America that was not an artificial construct, a restoration like Colonial Williamsburg but the raw, messy, unairbrushed real thing, jewels and warts and all.

We have lost tens of thousands of lives, in a preventable catastrophe.

So what hope is there?

I'm not going to offer typical feel-good words, because I don't know how and I wouldn't if I could. I schiz, as longtime readers know, between a sort of grimly-amused detached factuality and florid poetical rantings - I figured out, in the cold light of morning, why I free-associated a voodoo god as a key part of this, after ladyjillian spoke of making an Offering to him, - it's like I told jesurgislac, because the Army is disproportionately southern, and minority, and poor, and angry armies stuck in distant bits of the Middle East with no strategy and no leadership have in the past fragged their least effective officers and marched home on their own, and imperial armies recruited from backwoods provinces wasted and used with poor leadership and worse pay had a tradition of deposing dynasties and making one of them Emperor, and peasants turned into refugees in their own empire by the corruption and incompetence of the aristocracy leading to floods and famines in neglected exploited provinces have a history of taking up arms, and now we have the perfect revolutionary storm: an underpaid peasant army from the neglected exploited backwaters in an unplanned underequipped war with a bloodbath caused by inept leadership and corruption back home where their families are. The Army is the only thing we have with the resources to fix New Orleans now, not just because all countries use their armies to fix things because it's most efficient, because all our civilian faculties have been stripped to feed the military-industrial monster, and they're going to be the ones stuck principally seeing the horror on the ground for the months to come.

Forget 2006. Forget talk of impeachment.

If I were George Bush, I'd be having nightmares about Indira Gandhi's fate.

But that's not what I want to talk about now. I'm not a Greater Good sort, like the so-called liberals who still say things like "I think that the Iraq war will turn out to be a good thing in the long run, if it brings democracy to the Middle East." (If this is Democracy™, if this is the best that Democracy™ can do, you can keep it, frankly. More on that later.)

I can't offer cheap tinsel hope, like George Bush going down and glibly promising that it'll all be built back bigger and better than before, bright and shiny and new. We don't want that. No one who loved New Orleans wants that. I don't speak for myself or even for those who have visited New Orleans and want it to be the way they remember it, selfishly, thinking of NOLA as a priceless art treasure looted and melted down for gold. I speak principally for, and to, people like him, who can't use our sympathy and sorrow and pity and prayers, they're like US currency in a post-apocalyptic world.

What is needed is the kind of calm, practical advice such as the editors of the Biloxi Sun-Times are giving here to citizens afflicted with survivor guilt - spiritual counseling of the best.

What do I have? Cold historical facts, and oracular madness. This - not a rant, not sure what it is, has been days brewing, from the first hours it became clear that the flooding was catastrophic and irreversible and unstoppable.

What I have is Europe in my bones, the soil of the Rhine where I was born shaped me as truly as the humid air and heady memories of the Big Muddy and , and Asia and Africa and the Spanish Main in the folds of my brain, artifacts that I have seen and touched and roads I have traveled through the grammery of other travelers' words and pictures, since I first could remember my own name.

There's no way out but through. Americans despair too quickly, we do.

We talk of getting guns and holing up in our houses at the first realization that our political situation is deranged; we talk of running for other countries before they even start arresting newspaper editors for sedition and breaking up printing presses; we tend to assume that because this is new to us it's unprecedented and no one else has ever experienced anything like it.

Now too many people are talking about abandoning New Orleans, and unfortunately given the scope of the disaster and the already-existing poverty of Louisiana, that's not something that's going to be left to the citizens themselves. Lots of people - including idiots living in Florida - are saying that it's not worth restoring,

But New Orleans is not Pompei, it's not buried under meters of lava, and it wasn't a small resort town like Aspen either. New Orleans is more like Naples in some ways, like Venice in others, but I don't know the history and I'm not as personally familiar with either of those cities as I am with another - and which tens of thousands of US tourists alive all across the country are as well.

We need to look hard at Rome.

Rome has had floods that went something like 18 feet high, the watermarks are etched on to the facade of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where St. Catherine of Sienna is buried - and into the priceless irreparable Renaissance murals inside. From a certain point down on the walls, it looks like someone took a washcloth with bleach to them, even though they've been restored. Catastrophic floods when the Tiber jumped its banks, in the unsanitary cities of the past with ox turds everywhere and no radios - yes, it could actually be worse than it is, hard as that is to believe. (Just not in a modern, developed First World [sic] country.)

But that's not the worst of it. There are canonballs embedded into the walls along some of the quaint little streets there, and scars from the pounding that they took. Rome's been under siege more times than I can count, and some of them resulted in the sacking of the city. Rape, arson, looting, melting down of art treasures for gold, rampant drunken destruction for no reason - from ancient times and their own civil wars to the disgruntled oppressed Goths to the fusion of ethnic and religious tensions, geopolitical gambles gone bad, personal antipathy and the resulting bizarre alliances that led to the Holy Roman Emperor sacking Rome with an army of mercenaries in 1527. The Renaissance was not as fun as people think it was.

(One of the more fascinating things in that article about the 1527 sack is that much of the sacking was done by Romans themselves - the city leaders - that is to say, the aristocracy, who saw it as a great opportunity to conduct internecine urban warfare against each other and try to get revenge and leverage. By the time they were done some 45k citizens were dead or refugees, and then afterwards the heads of the rival families reconciled and went back to working with each other politically. Iraqis have nothing on us Western Christans at the height of Christendom.)

The city was hit several times by the Plague - there are first hand reports, letters of people in Galileo's time trying to quarantine themselves and still go on with their lives and hoping that neither they nor their friends or family would die - and that was on top of the regular summer malaria outbreaks from the heat and swampy water; and on top of that you have the devastating "renewal program" of Mussolini and the original Great Fire, which was believed by the inhabitants to have been started by their leader, in order to put about his plan for rebuilding the city by getting rid of the slums and tenements in one fell swoop. Economic devastation has depopulated the city and left it a ghost town more than once in all its thousands of years of history.

And it's still there. Still Rome. Scars and all, full of people living their lives after all these thousands of years of tragedy and betrayal from the top down and periodic ruin. It's still a great place to go, it's still a great place to live, it's still a great place, period.

If the Romans can do it, can't we?

If the English could rebuild London twice, if the Portuguese could rebuild Lisbon after the Great Quake, if Germans could stand to rebuild Dresden and Berlin, if the French could restore Rouen and the Belgians Louvain, if the Japanese could bring themselves to repopulate Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Tokyo, don't you think that we Americans are up to the task? Are we just going to roll over and let New Orleans - New Orleans! - die forever, without even trying for a miracle?

I'm not just making a jingoistic appeal to our national pride, trying to buck us up like a football coach whose team is on a losing streak. I'm asking a serious question. We've been very loudly proud for a long time. And very loudly patronizing of other countries and how well they handle problems or don't, over the decades. But sometimes mouth-proud doesn't mean anything but a windy bully. Now we're faced with a real challenge, the worst one in most if not all of our lifetimes. Is there anything to our vaunted courage, ingenuity, and dauntless pioneer spirit? Or is that all dead in the ashes of the New Deal?

--I don't know. I can't see that far; even Delphi could only offer an If/Then to Croesus. But there is a choice before us, and it's up to us to decide if we choose defeat from the get-go.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This From Hungry Blues

Sunday, September 04, 2005
Displaced New Orleans Community Demands Action, Accountability and Initiates A People's Hurricane Fund
Not until the fifth day of the federal government's inept and inadequate emergency response to the New Orleans' disaster did George Bush even acknowledge it was 'unacceptable.' 'Unacceptable' doesn't begin to describe the depth of the neglect, racism and classism shown to the people of New Orleans. The government's actions and inactions were criminal. New Orleans, a city whose population is almost 70% percent black, 40% illiterate, and many are poor, was left day after day to drown, to starve and to die of disease and thirst.

The people of New Orleans will not go quietly into the night, scattering across this country to become homeless in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels, chemical plants and the wealthy white districts of New Orleans like the French Quarter and the Garden District. We will not stand idly by while this disaster is used as an opportunity to replace our homes with newly built mansions and condos in a gentrified New Orleans.

Community Labor United (CLU), a coalition of the progressive organizations throughout New Orleans, has brought community members together for eight years to discuss socio-economic issues. We have been communicating with people from The Quality Education as a Civil Right Campaign, the Algebra Project, the Young People's Project and the Louisiana Research Institute for Community Empowerment. We are preparing a press release and framing document that will be out as a draft later today for comments.

Here is what we are calling for:

We are calling for all New Orleanians remaining in the city to be evacuated immediately.
We are calling for information about where every evacuee was taken.
We are calling for black and progressive leadership to come together to meet in Baton Rouge to initiate the formation of a Community Oversight Committee of evacuees from all the sites. This committee will demand to oversee FEMA, the Red Cross and other organizations collecting resources on behalf of our people.
We are calling for volunteers to enter the shelters where our people are and to assist parents with housing, food, water, health care and access to aid.
We are calling for teachers and educators to carve out some time to come to evacuation sites and teach our children.
We are calling for city schools and universities near evacuation sites to open their doors for our children to go to school.
We are calling for health care workers and mental health workers to come to evacuation sites to volunteer.
We are calling for lawyers to investigate the wrongful death of those who died, to protect the land of the displaced, to investigate whether the levies broke due to natural and other related matters.
We are calling for evacuees from our community to actively participate in the rebuilding of New Orleans.
We are calling for the addresses of all the relevant list serves and press contacts to send our information.
We are in the process of setting up a central command post in Jackson, MS, where we will have phone lines, fax, email and a web page to centralize information. We will need volunteers to staff this office.

We have set up a People's Hurricane Fund that will be directed and administered by New Orleanian evacuees. The Young People's Project, a 501(c)3 organization formed by graduates of the Algebra Project, has agreed to accept donations on behalf of this fund. Donations can be mailed to:

The People's Hurricane Fund c/o The Young People's Project
99 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

If you have comments of how to proceed or need more information, please email them to Curtis Muhammad (muhammadcurtisATbellsouthDOTnet) and Becky Belcore (bbelcoreAThotmailDOTcom).

Thank you.
I wish I could hear jazz 24/7. I wish I could live in a music-filled room that would travel with me everywhere I went so that I could hear the sounds of the city. One thing that I was thinking about today. Edgar Ray Killen went free a few weeks ago and now Black people are dying and starving in New Orleans and Mississippi. Something has got to break. We will not have this anymore.
Bellaytrys at Nothing New Under the Sun has an incredible essay on the situation in New Orleans here

Get OFF Your Asses

God Bless Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. I hope his anger will be shared by millions and I hope that it will be impactful in delivering a stinging blow to this administration.
Its time to help, not be depressed.

Oh God

All hell is going to break loose.

This from the San Francisco Bay View

'This is criminal': Malik Rahim reports from New Orleans

by Malik Rahim

Malik Rahim, a veteran of the Black Panther Party in New Orleans, for decades an organizer of public housing tenants both there and in San Francisco and a recent Green Party candidate for New Orleans City Council, lives in the Algiers neighborhood, the only part of New Orleans that is not flooded. They have no power, but the water is still good and the phones work. Their neighborhood could be sheltering and feeding at least 40,000 refugees, he says, but they are allowed to help no one. What he describes is nothing less than deliberate genocide against Black and poor people. - Ed.

New Orleans, Sept. 1, 2005 - It's criminal. From what you're hearing, the people trapped in New Orleans are nothing but looters. We're told we should be more "neighborly." But nobody talked about being neighborly until after the people who could afford to leave … left.

If you ain't got no money in America, you're on your own. People were told to go to the Superdome, but they have no food, no water there. And before they could get in, people had to stand in line for 4-5 hours in the rain because everybody was being searched one by one at the entrance.

I can understand the chaos that happened after the tsunami, because they had no warning, but here there was plenty of warning. In the three days before the hurricane hit, we knew it was coming and everyone could have been evacuated.

We have Amtrak here that could have carried everybody out of town. There were enough school buses that could have evacuated 20,000 people easily, but they just let them be flooded. My son watched 40 buses go underwater - they just wouldn't move them, afraid they'd be stolen.

People who could afford to leave were so afraid someone would steal what they own that they just let it all be flooded. They could have let a family without a vehicle borrow their extra car, but instead they left it behind to be destroyed.

There are gangs of white vigilantes near here riding around in pickup trucks, all of them armed, and any young Black they see who they figure doesn't belong in their community, they shoot him. I tell them, "Stop! You're going to start a riot."

When you see all the poor people with no place to go, feeling alone and helpless and angry, I say this is a consequence of HOPE VI. New Orleans took all the HUD money it could get to tear down public housing, and families and neighbors who'd relied on each other for generations were uprooted and torn apart.

Most of the people who are going through this now had already lost touch with the only community they'd ever known. Their community was torn down and they were scattered. They'd already lost their real homes, the only place where they knew everybody, and now the places they've been staying are destroyed.

But nobody cares. They're just lawless looters ... dangerous.

The hurricane hit at the end of the month, the time when poor people are most vulnerable. Food stamps don't buy enough but for about three weeks of the month, and by the end of the month everyone runs out. Now they have no way to get their food stamps or any money, so they just have to take what they can to survive.

Many people are getting sick and very weak. From the toxic water that people are walking through, little scratches and sores are turning into major wounds.

People whose homes and families were not destroyed went into the city right away with boats to bring the survivors out, but law enforcement told them they weren't needed. They are willing and able to rescue thousands, but they're not allowed to.

Every day countless volunteers are trying to help, but they're turned back. Almost all the rescue that's been done has been done by volunteers anyway.

My son and his family - his wife and kids, ages 1, 5 and 8 - were flooded out of their home when the levee broke. They had to swim out until they found an abandoned building with two rooms above water level.

There were 21 people in those two rooms for a day and a half. A guy in a boat who just said "I'm going to help regardless" rescued them and took them to Highway I-10 and dropped them there.

They sat on the freeway for about three hours, because someone said they'd be rescued and taken to the Superdome. Finally they just started walking, had to walk six and a half miles.

When they got to the Superdome, my son wasn't allowed in - I don't know why - so his wife and kids wouldn't go in. They kept walking, and they happened to run across a guy with a tow truck that they knew, and he gave them his own personal truck.

When they got here, they had no gas, so I had to punch a hole in my gas tank to give them some gas, and now I'm trapped. I'm getting around by bicycle.

People from Placquemine Parish were rescued on a ferry and dropped off on a dock near here. All day they were sitting on the dock in the hot sun with no food, no water. Many were in a daze; they've lost everything.

They were all sitting there surrounded by armed guards. We asked the guards could we bring them water and food. My mother and all the other church ladies were cooking for them, and we have plenty of good water.

But the guards said, "No. If you don't have enough water and food for everybody, you can't give anything." Finally the people were hauled off on school buses from other parishes.

You know Robert King Wilkerson (the only one of the Angola 3 political prisoners who's been released). He's been back in New Orleans working hard, organizing, helping people. Now nobody knows where he is. His house was destroyed. Knowing him, I think he's out trying to save lives, but I'm worried.

The people who could help are being shipped out. People who want to stay, who have the skills to save lives and rebuild are being forced to go to Houston.

It's not like New Orleans was caught off guard. This could have been prevented.

There's military right here in New Orleans, but for three days they weren't even mobilized. You'd think this was a Third World country.

I'm in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, the only part that isn't flooded. The water is good. Our parks and schools could easily hold 40,000 people, and they're not using any of it.

This is criminal. These people are dying for no other reason than the lack of organization.

Everything is needed, but we're still too disorganized. I'm asking people to go ahead and gather donations and relief supplies but to hold on to them for a few days until we have a way to put them to good use.

I'm challenging my party, the Green Party, to come down here and help us just as soon as things are a little more organized. The Republicans and Democrats didn't do anything to prevent this or plan for it and don't seem to care if everyone dies.

Malik's phone is working. He welcomes calls from old friends and anyone with questions or ideas for saving lives. To reach him, call the Bay View at (415) 671-0789.