Saturday, September 17, 2005

Blair attacks BBC for 'anti-US bias'

From The Guardian Blair attacks BBC for 'anti-US bias'. "Tony Blair has denounced the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina as 'full of hatred of America' and 'gloating' at the country's plight, it was reported yesterday." ...

Message: I Care About the Black Folks

From Frank Rich: Message: I Care About the Black Folks. "The worst storm in our history proved perfect for exposing this president because in one big blast it illuminated all his failings: the rampant cronyism, the empty sloganeering of "compassionate conservatism," the lack of concern for the "underprivileged" his mother condescended to at the Astrodome, the reckless lack of planning for all government operations except tax cuts, the use of spin and photo-ops to camouflage failure and to substitute for action." ...


From the BBC: Thousands still await end to limbo. "Living cheek by jowl on the floor of a sports arena there is the complete absence of personal space.

Families huddle together on camp beds, surrounded by laundry bags stuffed with their remaining possessions and handouts from volunteers." ...


A series of articles:

Katrina, Bush and Cheney: Grounds for Impeachment. From counter punch.

Norman Solomon's Firing Michael Brown Is Not Enough. How About Bush and Cheney?. From common dreams.



a "live exercise"--an expanded Tuskegee experiment-- to see what would happen in the case of catastrophe? Who better for the government to experiment on? posted.


I was surprised by this. It's so blatant. That what makes this headline okay in its racist punning is the persistence of the term in contemporary usage and the reassertion of English superiority.

Bowling a chinaman takes on whole new meaning

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Saturday September 17, 2005
The Guardian

England may be seeing the biggest cricket boom in more than a century, but on the other side of the world yesterday a group of 30 novices took part in what may prove to be a more historic event: an attempt to spread the art of willow and leather among schools and universities in China.

The Asian Cricket Council has organised a six-day workshop for PE teachers in Beijing, conducted by professionals from Australia including John Harmer, the former coach of the England women's team. read more.

From an earlier Telegraph article that generated a number of letters to the editor, "Mention a "Chinaman" to cricketers and he understands it to mean a deceptive delivery from a left-arm spinner." read more.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Ajamu Baraka writes in The Black Commentator Hold the United States Accountable. "But the rights of the displaced must be viewed as a separate and overriding issue. Receiving protection and humanitarian assistance from government authorities is not an act of benevolence, but rather is obligatory for displaced people – for the duration of their displacement." ...

The Black Commentator More Than 50 Evacuees Die In Texas. "Medical examiners say at least 53 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from the New Orleans area have died since arriving in Texas." ...

Via Alphonse van Worden.

Baltimore Sun editorial He Still Doesn't Get It. "Katrina offers the chance to rethink how cities are built, how energy is used, how access to health care and education is provided, and how race is often synonymous with economic class. Despite Mr. Bush's acknowledgement of "a long history of injustice that has led to poverty and inequality," he's still oblivous to the need for sweeping change." ...


Why is the face of shame in the US usually a black face? What happened to images of all of the poor and middle class white people who have been displaced by the hurricane and in its aftermath? Why are there so few images of them? What does this focus on the black body allow to go unremarked upon and unseen? We return to DuBois and "how does it feel to be a problem?"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


So Lydia Howell writes in Walking with the Ghosts of New Orleans. From Dissident Voice.

"To watch the catastrophe unfold in New Orleans was to watch the convergence of a past not faced with a potential future few are prepared for. Seeing the Black people trapped in the Superdome, I glimpsed the horror of the Middle Passage: those ships packed with Africans, wretched with hunger, thirst, disease, terror, on their way to slavery. The people, again, mostly African-Americans, trudging down the empty freeway with the sun beating down reminded me of other forced migrations -- such as Indians on the Trail of Tears. I saw the desperation during the Great Depression (and it's looming repeat as America's economy is auctioned off to the lowest bidder by transnational corporations)."


From the Times Picayune OUR OPINIONS: Welcome back, Mr. President.

Dear Mr. President,

Welcome to our wounded city. This is your third visit since Hurricane Katrina devastated metropolitan New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast two weeks ago. You will see that the obituaries for the Crescent City were premature. You can detect a pulse, albeit a faint one. New Orleanians, who are known for resilience and love of their hometown, are clamoring to return and rebuild. Commerce is stirring in the French Quarter, in the Central Business District, in Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes. Substantial numbers of federal troops finally arrived to restore law and order. Much too late, but they are welcome nonetheless.

But don't kid yourself, Mr. President. This is only the beginning of what must become a gargantuan and sustained effort by you and your administration. A vast stretch of our homeland, your homeland, has been wrecked, submerged, washed away, contaminated, gutted. A huge diaspora of Americans has been scattered across the land. New Orleans, a crown jewel among American cities, is deeply stricken. What you are seeing today, Mr. President, is the aftermath of the worst, the most widespread disaster to befall an American city and its surroundings in the history of our country.

Such a catastrophe, Mr. President, calls for a commensurate response from you. It is not enough to have sent a massive deployment of troops. It is not enough to have visited three times. And, though we appreciate your intention, it is not enough to have removed the ineffectual head of FEMA from the scene.

Now comes the real test of your intention to make New Orleans work once again.

Mr. President, we're well aware that we cannot rely on government alone, that we must help ourselves. Already our people have begun to do so: rescuing, sheltering and raising money for the most desperate victims. But faced with a disaster like this hurricane, no community can fend for itself.

Many of us cannot return to our homes because they were flooded, due to inadequate levees and an inadequate effort to restore the coastline of Louisiana. These are problems that successive administrations, including yours, have ignored. All of us deserve a chance to return to decent homes.

New Orleanians also deserve to know that our federal government has made an all-out effort to ensure that a disaster like Katrina cannot happen again. Such an effort should include concrete and dirt, creative thinking, and a commitment that will last for years.

It also means a promise to do whatever it takes, whatever it costs, to restore Louisiana's coast. New Orleans cannot exist as a coastal city surrounded by levees so high they cast a shadow over our dwellings. It was once an inland river port, and it must be one once again.

The waters will recede, and the death toll may fall below earlier estimates. It will become easy -- with no evacuees on roofs, no starving, clamoring people at the Superdome and Convention Center -- to decide that you have fulfilled your commitment to New Orleans.

That would be a huge mistake, Mr. President. The New Orleans that we and the nation deserve will be protected by thriving marshlands, walled off for floods, rebuilt even for its poorest citizens. It will be endowed with the schools, roads and new infrastructure that will allow it once again to be a viable urban center, a vital port, a cultural treasure to America and the world.


From A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes to Belonging by Dionne Brand.

The body is the place of captivity. The Black body is situated as a sign of particular cultural and poltical meanings in the Diaspora. All of these meanings return to the Door of No Return––as if those leaping bodies, those prostrate bodies, those bodies made to dance and then to work, those bodies cursed, those bodies valued, those bodies valued, those bodies curdling under the singing of whips, those bodies cursed, those bodies remain curved in these attitudes. They remain fixed in the ether of history. They leap onto the backs of the contemporary––they cleave not only to the collective and acquired memories of their descendants but also to the collective and acquired memories of the other. We all enter those bodies."

"The Black body is a domesticated space as much as it is a wild space. It is domesticated in the sense that there are set characteristics ascribed to the body which have the effect of familiarizing people with it––making it an irrefutable common sense or knowledge. It is a wild space in the sense that it isa sign of transgression, opposition, resistance, and desire. The Black body is culturally encoded as physical prowess, sexual fantasy, moral transgression, violence, magical musical artisty. These ascriptions are easily at hand for every day use. Much as one would use a tool or on instrument to execute some need or want."

All of this can be brought to bear on what has happened in the past two weeks, before the past two weeks, what is happening still. Excess and enjoyment.


UPDATE: From GEORGE WILL A Poverty of Thought. "Given that most African Americans are middle class and almost half live outside central cities, and that 76 percent of all births to Louisiana African Americans were to unmarried women, it is a safe surmise that more than 80 percent of African American births in inner-city New Orleans -- as in some other inner cities -- were to women without husbands. That translates into a large and constantly renewed cohort of lightly parented adolescent males, and that translates into chaos in neighborhoods and schools, come rain or come shine."

"One prominent African-American supporter of Mr. Bush who is close to Karl Rove, the White House political chief, said the president did not go into the heart of New Orleans and meet with black victims on his first trip there, last Friday, because he knew that White House officials were "scared to death" of the reaction.

"If I'm Karl, do I want the visual of black people hollering at the president as if we're living in Rwanda?" said the supporter, who spoke only anonymously because he did not want to antagonize Mr. Rove."

TOM DELAY: "While on the tour of a shelter with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots. The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, ``Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?'' They nodded yes, but looked perplexed." Full article available here FEMA says debit card distribution at Reliant Park complete.

GEORGE BUSH ON SOCIAL SECURITY IN MAY 2005: "Now, a personal savings account would be a part of a Social Security retirement system. It would be a part of what you would have to retire when you reach retirement age. As you -- as I mentioned to you earlier, we're going to redesign the current system. If you've retired, you don't have anything to worry about -- third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)" President Participates in Social Security Conversation in New York .

Monday, September 12, 2005

"'Y'all get on out of here. And don't come back.'"

Bob Herbert's opinion piece A Rush of Stories. It begins, "I was in the attic for four days, with no food, water, nothing. Just roaches crawling all over me. And I seen a rat, too. I had to use a board to hold my head above the water, 'cause it was up to my neck. So help me, I thought I was going to die." ...


By BOB HERBERT (NYT) 839 words
Published: September 12, 2005

''I was in the attic for four days, with no food, water, nothing. Just roaches crawling all over me. And I seen a rat, too. I had to use a board to hold my head above the water, 'cause it was up to my neck. So help me, I thought I was going to die.''
-- Bernice Jones, 64, who finally managed to pry her way out of the attic and was taken by boat to the Superdome.

''They wanted to take my grandmother to Iowa. She's 90 years old and has Alzheimer's. What was she gonna do in Iowa?''

-- Donald McCray, 52, who is looking after his grandmother, Susie Hudson, in a shelter in Gonzales, La.

''A huge percentage of the people who were left behind didn't have a way out. It makes me sick that our plan for them didn't work very well.''

-- Dr. Erin Brewer of Louisiana's Office of Public Health.

The stories -- freakish, tragic and sadly true -- continue to come out of New Orleans in an awful, unending rush, like blood from a sudden gaping wound. The stunned survivors have scattered to places like Houston, Dallas, Baton Rouge and here -- Lafayette -- where the Cajundome (yet another sports palace turned homeless shelter) rises like a giant mushroom from the flat, shimmeringly hot parish landscape.

JoAnn Kelly, 25, and her sister Nicole, who is 28, were sitting on a low brick ledge outside the Cajundome when I walked up. Each was holding a nervous Chihuahua. ''This is Pebbles,'' said JoAnn. ''That one's Powder. We kept them with us the whole time.''

The two women, who lived in the Magnolia projects in New Orleans, were tired but anxious to tell their story. Like so many others, they thought the worst was over when the winds from Hurricane Katrina subsided and the weather began to clear.

''The sun was out,'' said Nicole. ''But the water started coming right up the street and it kept rising. Then we heard Governor Blanco saying on the radio that they couldn't stop the water and everybody should just get out.

''So we started calling 911, but we couldn't get any help.''

The sick feeling of panic began to rise up in the residents who had stayed in the projects during the hurricane. ''There were helicopters flying by,'' JoAnn said. ''We were up on the fire escape waving white towels, pleading for somebody to help us.''

Eventually a few men from the neighborhood began showing up in stolen boats and trucks. The elderly and small children were the first to be evacuated. JoAnn, Nicole and the dogs were bundled into a milk truck crowded with people. Once again they thought the worst of their ordeal was over, and once again they were wrong.

Packed with hot and filthy evacuees (and crates of rapidly souring milk), the truck crossed a bridge from New Orleans to Jefferson Parish, where the desperate occupants were promptly and grotesquely humiliated by several heavily armed plainclothes officers.

There were dozens of men, women and children in the truck when it was stopped. They were hungry, thirsty and frightened. It should have been obvious to any sentient being that they were fleeing the flood. Nevertheless, said Nicole, they were ordered out of the truck at gunpoint, with their hands up. One young man was thrown to the ground. The others were ordered to get on the ground, face down.

The occupants of the milk truck were black, and they were in dire need of assistance. But in the midst of one of the greatest emergencies in the nation's history, the opportunity to gratuitously humiliate them proved irresistible.

''They laid us out on the ground,'' said JoAnn. Her voice quivered and tears began to leak down her face. ''I was pleading. I was saying, 'Sir, please -- -- ' And then we all went to praying. Crying and praying.'''

''We were all praying,'' said Nicole, ''because we were afraid, the way they were acting, that they would shoot us.''

Eventually, the officers let the group go. No one was charged with any crime. ''They even helped us start the milk truck,'' Nicole said. ''The last thing they told us was, 'Y'all get on out of here. And don't come back.'''

The milk truck made its way west on Route 10, and the homeless, bedraggled occupants ultimately were directed to the Cajundome, where, according to JoAnn and Nicole, the officials and volunteers couldn't have been more gracious and helpful.

"Blackademe Weighs in on Katrina, 9/11 and Kanye West"

Posted on Mark Anthony Neal's blog NewBlackMan Blackademe Weighs in on Katrina, 9/11 and Kanye West.

Table of Contents:

William Jelani Cobb It Is About Race.

Lester Spence Commentary: A Perspective on Looters and Race.

Peniel E. Joseph Left Behind: Backdrop to a National Crisis.

Wahneema Lubiano On Race, Class, Katrina, and the Left.

Karla Holloway Commentary: New Orleans' Cities of the Dead.

Maurice O. Wallace A Sermon: ‘Our Tsunami’: Race, Religion and Mourning in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama .

Farah Jasmine Griffin Commentary: On the Fourth Anniversary of Sept. 11.

Fanon Che Wilkins Thank you, Kanye!.

Mark Anthony Neal Race-ing Katrina.


My "Perfect Opposite" (hereafter known as PO) told me about Anne Winters' latest book of poetry The Displaced of Capital last semester when she was preparing to teach from it. From the back of the book "The 'displaced' in the title refers to the poor, the homeless, and the disenfranchised who populate New York, the city that serves at once as gritty backdrop, city of dreams, and urban nightmare...."

The title poem begins, "A shift in the structure of experience...".


Mukoma Wa Ngugi writes: "What role is the “Third World” playing in how Americans are dealing with the disaster? Where does the “Third World” fit in the imagination of the American? What does it mean to say that this is not supposed to happen in the United States?" The entire article appears on ZMAG New Orleans and the Third World.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


This from Harper's Magazine The Uses of Disaster: Notes on bad weather and good government.


I first saw Thulani Davis' article which appears on the Black Commentator website UNBEARABLE CRIME ON THE MISSISSIPPI on Alphonse van Worden's blog under the post The Bottom of The Slave Ship.



By Tomasz Kitlinski, Joe Lockard and Stephane Symons. "Floating corpses, dehydrated babies, fires, National Guard soldiers with shoot-to-kill orders. This is a state of emergency. It is this the [sic] state of exception that, according to Giorgio Agamben, characterizes our current political order." Read the rest of the piece on Bad Subjects The Floating Corpse of New Orleans.


a "live exercise"--an expanded Tuskegee experiment-- to see what would happen in the case of catastrophe? Who better for the government to experiment on?


A thought: Remember on CNN the images of the thouands of prisoners on the highway? Mostly black men in orange jump-suits shackled together, some sitting in the flood waters, some on the broken segments of the bridge, all guarded by mostly white men with guns. After the first day or two we didn't see those images anymore. What happened to them? They were evacuated before the people from the convention center or the superdome.

From The New York Times "This city has no gas stations, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no hospitals and not very many people. But it does have a jail.

With all the major jails in and around New Orleans closed because of flooding, the temporary lockup opened Monday in the Greyhound Bus Station on the edge of downtown.

The jail will house people accused of looting and others arrested in New Orleans and surrounding cities, holding them until they can be sent to a state-run correctional center in St. Gabriel, about 70 miles northwest. There they will be arraigned and have an opportunity to make bail.

"This is a real start to rebuilding this city, this jail," said Burl Cain, the warden of Angola, the giant state prison in eastern Louisiana"


'Prison City' Shows a Hospitable Face to Refugees From New Orleans

HUNTSVILLE, Tex., Sept. 5 - And so they found refuge here, beside the red brick walls of the Texas death house.

"Many called it heaven.

With emergency shelters stretched tight from New Orleans to Houston, eight buses carrying more than 300 survivors of the flood ended up here in the proud "prison city" of Texas, 80 miles north of Houston, where every third or fourth resident lives behind bars, in seven prisons that confine 9,000 to 15,000 inmates.

The First Baptist Church, which backs up on Huntsville's oldest prison unit, including the nation's busiest execution chamber, was ready with cots, showers, fresh clothes and hot food. And prison trusties in white uniforms to clean and cook.

"They're very thankful that we're here to help," said Shannon Smith, 33, who is serving 10 years for aggravated assault for beating his wife while he was a drug addict.

Some evacuees said they felt blessed and had no fear of the inmates."


NY Times Editorial Revising 9/11 "Without realizing it we had internalized what happened four years ago in a rather tidy story arc: Terrorists struck with brutal violence and the country responded. Everyone rose to the occasion - rallying around New York City, comforting the survivors and doing "whatever it takes" to make the country, if not totally safe, at least totally ready for whatever came next. Mistakes were made, but we would learn from them, and wind up stronger and better prepared."

And Joe Conason's piece in Salon The bitter lessons of four years which begins, "It would have been almost impossible to imagine, during the days and weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that we might someday look back on that depressing time with a tinge of nostalgia. For Americans, and especially for those of us who live in New York City, those autumn memories are filled with rage and horror, fire and smoke, loss and death; but they are also filled with a spirit of courage, community and real patriotism. United we stood, even behind a government of dubious legitimacy, because we knew that there was no other way to defend what we valued." Impossible to imagine?

Back to the refugee and the evacuee, if one does not see oneself in THAT United we, where does one stand? What if one refuses and/or is not granted the title of citizen; what if one is not the refugee in our midst that we cannot look away from, but the refugee?

What if one knows oneself to be inside and outside; double consciousness?