Trouble In The Big Easy
The situation in Louisiana and Mississippi is truly sad. My heart goes out to all of the people suffering needlessly. But, let this much be clear. The national diasaster in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina is nothing more than an extension of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks on New York and Washington, DC. It is again a lapse in homeland security. It just shows the lack of leadership skills of President Bush. He was asleep at the wheel again. Last time he took 5 hours to get a clue. This time he took 5 days. But more specifically, this incident illustrates his unstated policy of benign neglect that has become a necessity in the mind of this warmonger to support his neocolonial ambitions in the Middle East and the world.
All the warnings were there. A major hurricane hitting New Orleans was on the Top 5 list of potential catastrophes that could hit Amerikkka along side terrorist attacks and a massive California earthquake. This has been studied extensively. Hurricane Betsy hit in 1965 and left the city under flood waters for weeks. The fact that so much of the city's residents were impoverished and lacked the resources to evacuate New Orleans increased the potential for disaster. This information had been documented over the last 50 years from previous evacuations. And the Army Corps of Engineers requested funds to maintain and improve the levee system and floodwalls in New Orleans to control the waters of the Mississipi River and Lake Pontchartrain and better protect the city in event of a direct hit of a category 3 or higher hurricane. What did Bush do? He cut their budget for a third consecutive year. It was labelled pork barrel spending. The money was diverted to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And to put things into perspective, a levee is nothing more than an earthen wall held in place by a concrete retainer.
And how do you have a delayed reaction to such a catastrophe particularly since you are oil crazy and a fourth of the the nations oil is processed in some form or fashion in the Gulf Coast? New Orleans is the mouth of the great Mississippi River, a major artery in the Amerikkkan economy. And you've deployed most of the Louisiana National Guard to the Middle East. Who was supposed to provide emergency relief? This was the perfect storm. This is Amerikkka's tsunami. But, instead of the immediate response by the Amerikkkan government to aid the handful of vacationing Americans in the Asian crisis, this response was delayed to the point of criminal neglect.
We have all seen the news coverage of the lawlessness in New Orleans. Much of it overblown no doubt. Media sensationalism at work. The coverage has overwhelmingly focused on the city and not the working class suburbs. Black folks looting, white folks finding. This is no doubt a race issue. But, make no mistake, it is also a “class” issue. The two intersect. Amerikkka, middle class and rich alike, doesn't care about its poor. Ask all the poor white folks throughout Metro New Orleans. They might have left the city after desegregation as did with much of the city's working middle class whites desperate to keep Jim Crow in place de facto. However, many live in the miniature “white ghettos” we know as trailer parks and other older areas in the burbs. We all know the slang terms such as PWT (poor white trash). My only problem with them is that although poor, they are still a part of the white supremacist system and benefit (just not as much) as a part of the “white collective.” And they'll fight to keep this system in place. But again, the main issue is as former Senator Carol Mosley-Braun says, “The sin of omission.” Poor people have been marginalized in Amerikkka past and present. And this is a disaster on such a large scale effecting millions in a relatively small geographic area. So, in New Orleans the people were left to their own devices in an effort to SURVIVE.
“Shoot the looters. Shoot the looters!”, was cried out by people watching the crisis from the comfort of their homes. Damn corporate (read white man's) property rights over a Black family's life! My answer to all the folks that are so shocked at the reported negative activities is that people will be people. Folks act like Amerikkka is so high and mighty. Like this shit only happens in Third World countries. What did the international headlines read? Third World America. Hell, New Orleans 'hood' was a Third World nation statistically speaking. Abject poverty. People holed up in some the worst conditions in the nation. The housing stock is old and much of it in a state of disrepair and rental property held by absentee landowners. Sure, the houses have character and charm, but they were built for a bygone era. Many parts of the city are reminiscent of Port-au-Prince, Haiti minus the shanty towns.
Those that follow my work know that I end every article with, “Peace from the shotgun house.” I've include some pictures of the only American architectual style with documented African influences. New Orleans was home to the largest number and concentration of these houses in the nation. In most cities in the South, these houses have been bulldozed in urban renewal projects. The people displaced.
New Orleans Double Shotgun Houses
Camelback Shotgun Left: (i.e. a partial 2nd floor) Right: Single Shotgun House
But, I digress.
As always, we are disproportionately affected. In this case, more than 1 percent of the Black population in Amerikkka has been touched by this tragedy. And yes they are refugees. At least they've been treated as such. Remember this was one of the most notorious slave ports in the Antebellum Era.
Despite the popularity of Master P, Cash Money Millionaires, and other rappers from the Big Easy, the shit is real in the 'hood. Ask the hundred's of cops from the notoriously corrupt New Orleans Police Department who essentially deserted their posts many by choice. And the ish is real in cities and towns across Amerikkka. This is the reason why we need to stop all this BS in Hip Hop. Because Hip Hop needs to be political. And I'm not just talking about Sean Comb's “Vote or Die” marketing campaign crap either. Because if it ain't money or publicity in it for him, he's proven he ain't really down. Man f@#$ the craziness! People wake up!
I will say much thanks for the $1 million dollars Puff & Jay-Z donated to the American Red Cross. Hopefully, it will be spent on helping the people. However, this is still not enough since everbody is trying to live some dream being feed to them of being “hood rich” that you and other negroes like you have made millions off of selling and promoting. Any and every Black celebrity should donate money because you would be absolutely nothing without the black community to support and nurture you. But, you all need to do much more although I realize you can't all be Kanye West.
Speaking of Mr. West. My first reaction to Kanye's comments on "A Concert for Hurricane Relief” televised on the NBC network was one of Kanye's on his continued mission to champion his cause to be labeled a loose canon. Another instance of the guy letting his emotion get the better of him. Craziness sells, but loose lips sink ships, nah'mean. However upon further digestion, I applauded Kanye West, a metrosexual who kept it real-crazy or not. So much dumb shit happens in Hip Hop everyday, it's about time someone spoke out instead of being politically correct for the sake of money and their careers. Throughout his relatively short career, Kanye has shown a double consciousness of sorts. He has had to balance a need to appease his Hip Hop peers and sell records while massaging his ego and maintaining his individual voice. He is also a product of a “conscious daughter” as his mother is an intelligent Black woman who is a college professor and an absentee father, a reportedly former Black Panther now Christian marriage counselor. There is no doubt that she instilled much of herself and the ancestors in him and continues to influence him. And he knows from his father's side how one can be co-opted and hypocritical. All this shows in some of his lyrics. My respect for him, in spite of his ego, has been elevated because he risked much in speaking his mind. But, I thank and respect his mother even more for keeping her “eyes on the prize” if you will.
“George W. Bush doesn't care about Black people.” Is this true? Not quite. He does care about a few Black people namely Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia and Condleeza Rice. Whether we accept her or not she's Black. Or at least she's still claiming it. And damnit they both look like us. G. Dubya's brother Jeb summed up the Bush family modus operandi quite succinctly when he was asked during his first run for governor of Florida “What would he do for Black folk?” His answer was “nothing.” How prophetic.
Folks, this nation is still not prepared to handle a major national crisis. We ain't even ready to face up to racism. So much for our tax dollars going towards FEMA and Homeland Security.
To close, I refuse to hold back blame here although Mayor Nagin gets a pass because he's in his first term and he asked for assistance. The key issues here are:
1. Federal government cuts in the resources needed to maintain and improve the levee system to protect the city. (No doubt a result of the war in Iraq. But, would the predominantly white and wealthy voters of Seattle have stood for this? Would their needs be ignored?)
2. A lack of adequate planning for a hurricane evacuation. (In a city run by Black mayors for over a decade and that up until now had a successful renaissance in an effort to “rebuild” the city from years of neglect and divestment.)
3. The disaster response on the part of the city, state, and federal governments was poorly managed. The City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, and the United States Government are all to blame for this avoidable tragedy. The question raised in Black America is if there was a natural or man-made disaster in your city on the same scale, will you be evacuated?
Mother nature did it's job. Let's just hope we learn from this mistake better than we did from 9/11 and do ours.
And let's make sure that our people get the help they need in the long recovery that's to come.
Peace from the shotgun house, Jupiter “Gadfly” Hammon Soul on Fire!
Released: September 6th, 2005
The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of Playahata.com.