Friday, September 02, 2005

the shit has hit the fan

As I have been watching New Orleans sink deeper and deeper in chaos, if the major media outlets can be believed, I mean, they are pretty inflammatory what with the shots of dead bodies and 'rape counts', as I've watched this really fucking wild event unfold, the most pressing thing on my mind has been issues of race.

From the photos and video I've seen, the vast majority of the people stuck in New Orleans, living in squalor, are of African descent.

The poorest sections of New Orleans were apparently hit the hardest, where apparently the vast majority of the population is black. Similarly, the poor people, who seem to be mostly black, weren't able to flee the city when the mandatory evacuation was called. They couldn't charge a last minute plane ticket or hop in the car and head to their sister's in Chicago.

I'm fairly certain that this event will provoke some serious thinking in this country about racial issues, at least I hope it will.

Anyway, the NY Times just published a piece that I expect from them. While they certainly seem to have their problems as a news outlet, they definately manage to take a more responsible and in depth look at the issues. Anyway, this piece was about the race and New Orleans.

"The victims, they note, were largely black and poor, those who toiled in the background of the tourist havens, living in tumbledown neighborhoods that were long known to be vulnerable to disaster if the levees failed. Without so much as a car or bus fare to escape ahead of time, they found themselves left behind by a failure to plan for their rescue should the dreaded day ever arrive."

I suppose the culturally responsible position to take, and I actually think the correct explanation as well, is to explain the looting, raping, snipering of the hospital evacuations and rescue missions (perpetrated by blacks?) as also a sympton of their cultural status. I also wonder how exaggerated these reports are?

Of course perhaps it's a bit hasty and inherently racist to immediately paper over the whole situation with the 'race label'. The Times article also briefly addresses the issue of poor rural communities, which tend to be, at least in the midwest, appalachia and northeast, almost completely white. These people seem to get screwed over on a pretty regular basis. The media coming out of Mississippi and Alabama and the rural areas there is not quite as dramatic because the population density isn't nearly as great. There aren't 30,000 poor white people standing around a football stadium. But I would imagine those who couldn't get the fuck out of dodge got royally screwed by this storm. And I bet they were white.

Well, whatever the case me be, I think this is clearly a cultural phenomenon and not one of 'race', whatever that may be. Of course our intuitive understanding of race may be primarily conditioned by cutlural cues. NOT by skin color. It's just terribly easy to SEE that and make race an issue of skin color.

And while I'm on this impromptu rant, what's up with all the fucking god talk? It really fucking pisses me off. 'Thank God we're not dead, just completely fucking screwed. God really saved us there.' Yeah, but first he rammed a giant goddamn hurricane down your throats, gave guns to looters and made possibly the stupidest man in charge of a country ever responsible to deal with it at the federal level. Clearly God had to fuck you over royally in order to save you.

Keep prayin'. He's got a plan. He works in mysterious ways.

Both the race and the God thing are very tender issues for me. I'm not sure how to deal with them.

I'm just glad I'm not stuck down there.

4 comments:

Stacey said...

i'm so glad that god elected our leader. i'm so glad that he is following god's crusade in the holy war and sending our national guard overseas to fight and die for causes most don't believe in. Because i know that god told mr. bush that there would be no need to have anyone in new orleans...you know, that whole orderly thing than is sometimes nice. hmm. yes. Clearly god & bush are helping us out tremendously. Big thanks to the big guys. (yeahhhhhhhhh)

Abhinav Chandola said...

Yo Man,
Being from a third world country, I totally failed to understand why a tragedy of this scale took place in perhaps the finest of the countries in this world.
Seeing such disaster on TV everyday makes me cry as I cried for my country men when the tsunami hit us. Atleast we did not have a clue and were totally helpless. But seeing evacuation boards in New Orleans and the supposedly planned evacuation plans, I am totally boggled as to why people had to suffer so much. People knew upfront what was coming at them but still the tragedy happened and is continuing...
You are right, when you are uneducated, underexposed and poor you just cannot pick up and escape from a natural disaster!
All I can do now is sit and hope and maybe contribute my few cents towards rehabilitation of these people.
As for the God issue, it is clear, God only helps those who help themselves...
Good blog man,
Best.

Jenny B said...

It is devastating and horrible, and how this is being handled by our government makes our country look. worse to me now than ever. In the article Mr. Naison said, "If Sept. 11 showed the power of a nation united in response to a devastating attack, Hurricane Katrina reveals the fault lines of a region and a nation, rent by profound social divisions." What the fuck are we doing!!!! How can we organize an unwarranted war in a foreign country yet not be all over this hurricane shit? Hello!! They fucking knew it was coming...
I can remember being in Mexico almost 7 years ago now, in a tiny beach town, and there was word of a huge storm coming. The federales were there to evacuate us (which meant we had to fumar all the mota quickly) There was help for this little shithole town along the coast, in a country where everything seems backwards and the government might even be more fucked up than ours. Anyway, it's sad on a bunch of different levels. We should make a collection tonight Mateo and send it to the Red Cross. What else can we do?

Ryan said...

Just an FYI: The Game Preserve is taking donations which will be matched by GP. That money from GP will be forwarded to Bank of America (I think that's who it was) to be matched again. So for example, a 100 dollar donation from an individual after matching ends up being $400 to support the disaster relief.