In the past day:
– Another Paris fire in the immigrant \”temporary housing\” ghettos. Fatalities.
– Another bomb in India. Fatalities.
– Bush faked the levee repair photo op.
– Bush faked the photo op from a few days ago of him at a food relief center.
– Bush\’s visit caused food deliveries to be halted.
– On Saturday, FEMA cut the emergency communication lines in Jefferson Parish.
The US press seems to largely be ignoring the \”race issue,\” which I find it to be…I\’m without words. The Guardian (UK) has run a few pieces on it, and even Australia\’s newspaper The Age has run a piece on the race-based issues post-hurricane, and Australia isn\’t exactly known for its own good treatment of its black population.
In terms of race and tourists, The Age also has an article about Australians trapped in the Superdome. It\’s a strange perspective; on the one hand, so much of Australia is just so white that I can understand how suddenly being a miniscule minority would be terrifying. On the other hand, the vocabulary in the interview made it sound like every local citizen in there was…well, a criminal, a primate, less-than-human, and that the only \’decent\’ or \’humane\’ persons were those in the Nat\’l Guard. And somehow, I doubt that. If you act afraid instead of friendly, you\’re going to get kicked in the head.
Anne Rice actually has a really good editorial in the NYTimes today; worth a read.
Theory on Federal Impetus Behind Fucking Up
Bush and Chertoff have delayed sending people in. They aren\’t bringing in foreign aid. They aren\’t bringing in aid from other US cities except military. They aren\’t even letting citizens upriver bring boats in to help those still stranded. They\’re rounding people up and slowly letting them go. They\’re frisking them before letting them get on buses. It\’s mandatory evacuation but they seem to be leaving a lot of people to rot, without food or water. Why?
Maybe not, but this makes sense to me: they\’re paranoid. They know the area is vulnerable now, and so everyone (particularly those with dark skin) becomes a threat — a possible terrorist. Someone who might get down to the oil plants or lines and blow them up. That\’s their fear.
Grown Men in Uniform, Crying
\”Head of emergency management, his mom was in a nursing home. She called on Tuesday, asking, \’Son, is somebody coming to get us?\’ Yeah, mama, yeah, somebody\’s coming, someone will be there. Wednesday, \’Son, when are they coming?\’ Soon mama, soon, someone will come. Thursday, \’Son, are they coming? Is someone coming?\’ Friday, \’Yes mama, they\’re coming, they\’re coming.\’ Friday night, everybody in the nursing home drowned. Nobody\’s coming. Nobody\’s coming to get us, nobody\’s coming to get us… The secretary\’s promised, everybody\’s promised. We don\’t need any more press conferences, for god\’s sake, somebody…\”
— President of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana (I didn\’t catch his name)
This guy was calm, relating how everything was going down, how his people had repaired some levee problems on his side of the 17th Street levee, how Wal-Mart was being more efficient in their help than the government, how we need a new government. Then he got to the story above, which I tried to relate as best I could. The man went from being calm to having that high pitched voice of containment, his face turned purple, and by the end he wasn\’t just speaking the voice of this man\’s mother: \”Nobody\’s coming to get us…,\” he was speaking for himself and everyone there.
What We Can Do
Other than give money, give time, volunteer at phone banks, we need to be thinking long term. The whole population (nearly 1 million people) from along the coast line has been displaced and is going elsewhere. As many of us know, moving is not easy. Finding jobs in this market is really hard these days. Getting into affordable housing is nearly impossible. These people, god, these poor people are so fucked. They\’re gonna need real social services, real help.
Donations of: clothing, cars, food, school supplies, kitchen utensils, furniture, linens, computers, cell phones, etc. are going to be needed.
Then there\’s the kids. Most of the families are going to be relocating to other urban areas. Most urban areas in the US are already overcrowded with underfunded schools. Classrooms with sometimes as many as 40 kids to one teacher, not enough books, out dated materials… it\’s pathetic. And these kids are going to be coming in traumatized, with untold psychological troubles; they\’ll be the odd ones out in the schools with the southern accents and few clothes and maybe still living in the damn Astrodome. Come on, let\’s be realistic.
Short term, donate money to the Red Cross, etc. Long term? Donate your time. Go to your local Big Brothers, Big Sisters association and become a mentor. Sign up to tutor through your local school system or community center.
The other big thing is there is such a lack of affordable housing in regions where there is work. So many of the survivors were renters without insurance or savings. Habitat for Humanity has started Operation Home Delivery to bring the displaced new homes.
In the meantime, let\’s not forget the impoverished or homeless populations in our own cities. Here in DC, the rate of children that go hungry every night is astounding. If you feel you can\’t help because it\’s too far away, at least help locally. Those people are human, too, and they\’re also going through some tough shit and will appreciate it just as much.
So those are some things we can start doing in terms of relief.
In terms of protest… finally there\’s been some organizing. National Day of Emergency Action this Wednesday, September 7 in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. 5pm at the White House. I don\’t expect much turnout for this as everyone is still reeling, it\’s short notice, it\’s the middle of the week, it\’s in the middle of rush hour, etc. I\’m personally having surgery that afternoon and won\’t be there. BUT let\’s not forget that in a few weeks, September 24, is the long-planned Mass March of protest. What are we not protesting at this point? In my mind, a lot of Sept 7\’s protest is going to roll over into Sept 24\’s. \’Cos everything\’s just a fucking mess at this point. A disaster. And we need to speak up.
If anyone can come in from out of town for the protest on the weekend of the 24th, you\’re welcome to stay here. We\’ve got space.