Saturday, October 15, 2005

Indian Tribes and Hurricane Katrina: Overlooked by the Federal Government, Relief Organizations and the Corporate Media

From truthout. "Though there has been massive attention to the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina, some victims have been overlooked. An estimated 4,500 American Indians living along the southeast Louisiana coast lost everything to Hurricane Katrina according to state officials and tribal leaders. Hurricane Rita, which hit four weeks after Katrina, dealt another blow to the tribes. Officials estimate that 5,000-6,000 American Indians lost their homes or possessions in that storm. The Louisiana tribes most affected by the back-to-back hurricanes are the United Houma Nation, the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe, the Isle de Jean Charles Indian Band of Biloxi-Chitimasha, the Grand Caillou-Dulac Band and the Biloxi-Chitimasha Confederation of Muskogees." ... Read More.

Black Mecca: Atlanta Leads Nation in Child Poverty

Black Mecca: The Death of an Illusion. via.

"It was the place to be, we were told throughout the Eighties and Nineties. The housing was cheap, the weather benign, the social and business networks poppin’, the elected officials black and enlightened, and the opportunities limitless. Twenty years before it had been “the city too busy to hate.” Now it was the “Black Mecca,” and pilgrims streamed in by the tens of thousands each year." ...


The New York Times today and September 25, 2005. Reading the letters in the Sunday Book Review made me go back and read Nathan Glazer's review of Jonathan Kozol's The Shame of the Nation: Separate and Unequal.

Re-declaring groups of people ("minorites" and "the poor") incorrigible. As in, "incapable of being corrected or amended," "Bad or depraved beyond correction or reform," "Of something faulty or defective ... Of disease: Incurable," AND also "Not liable or open to correction; so good that it cannot be improved."

An instance of the unheimlich. Incapable of being corrected/defective and not liable to correction/ SO GOOD it cannot be improved.

Here's Glazer; "That problem is the conditions under which we educate the children of the poor and minorities. In his account, they are trapped, almost uniformly, in old schools that are overcrowded, in poor repair, with scanty teaching materials and disgraceful toilets, and staffed by generally underqualified teachers." And, "Because Kozol's forte is the detailed description of the school, the classroom, the work of the teacher and its effect on the student, we do not get from him any large discussion of why this resegregation has occurred. It's true court-ordered desegregation programs have been abandoned in many cities, as judges have been persuaded either that they are having no useful effects in closing the educational gap between blacks and others, or that they have become futile, since the number of white students in many school districts, particularly in large cities, has declined to insignificance."

In the letters. Henry Giroux writes, "Nathan Glazer states that even if racism exists in the schools there are other problems that contribute to segregation that are not really racist in nature and deserve a positive hearing, i.e., state's rights, the quest for individual freedom (always removed from any notion of the public good), local control of schools and a host of other utterly privatizing issues. Glazer ignores the growing incarceration of people of color; the rise of gated communities; the increasing racial profiling of immigrants; the increasing rates of poverty and unemployment among black youth; and the inadequate health care, health insurance and other basic social provisions for many black citizens." ...


See in this earlier post a Salon article on Kozol's book Apartheid America.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Thirty thousand dead after an earthquake in South Asia and the (US) press has hit on looting again. Looting Breaks Out in Pakistan Following Powerful Earthquake. "In the shattered streets of Muzaffarabad, where at least 11,000 people died, an Associated Press reporter saw shopkeepers scuffle with people trying to break into businesses. They beat each other with sticks and threw stones, and some people suffered head wounds. No police were nearby.

Residents of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan's portion of divided Kashmir, said looters also targeted deserted homes. Survivors lacked food and water, and there was little sign of any official coordination of relief in the devastated city of 600,000." ...

In contrast The Independent "Desperate struggle to reach earthquake survivors as toll hits 30,000". "The scale of the devastating earthquake that hit here on Saturday morning was revealed yesterday, when Pakistani- administered Kashmir, which was cut off from the outside world by landslides for a day, was finally opened up. The death toll was far higher than even the worst fears on Saturday: at least 30,000 by yesterday evening, with thousands more bodies still to be dug from the rubble." ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Slow Drowning of New Orleans

The Slow Drowning of New Orleans. ""Instead of spending millions now, we are going to spend billions later," he said.

But as Vitter was forecasting destruction, he was also holding up legislation that would have approved levee upgrades and launched the coastal restoration plan. And the holdup involved an industry-backed provision that Vitter had inserted to help Louisiana's loggers deforest cypress swamps, which would reduce the natural hurricane defenses the restoration was supposed to rebuild." ...

FROM LAST WEEK: "Nightmare for African Women: Birthing Injury and Little Help"

Nightmare for African Women: Birthing Injury and Little Help.

"What brings the girls to Dr. Waaldijk -- and him to Nigeria -- is the obstetric nightmare of fistulas, unknown in the West for nearly a century. Mostly teenagers who tried to deliver their first child at home, the girls failed at labor. Their babies were lodged in their narrow birth canals, and the resulting pressure cut off blood to vital tissues and ripped holes in their bowels or urethras, or both.

Now their babies were dead. And the would-be mothers, their insides wrecked, were utterly incontinent. Many had become outcasts in their own communities -- rejected by their husbands, shunned by neighbors, too ashamed even to step out of their huts." ...

A BRIEF HISTORY OF FISTULAS IN THE US: "Between 1845 and 1849, J. Marion Sims, M.D., conducted surgical experiments on slave women in his backyard hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. These women all had vesico-vaginal fistulas, small tears that form between the vagina and urinary tract or bladder which cause urine to leak uncontrollably. Through repeated surgeries (without the use of any anasthesia), Sims attempted to repair the fistulas. He is now remembered as the Father of American Gynecology, Father of Modern Gynecology, and Architect of the Vagina." [...] All of this experimentation on the bodies of slave women "on loan" to him from their "owners." ("On loan" because they leaked, because as sexual and reproductive labor/property, not as field labor or other physical labor, they were damaged.) The first uses of the speculum, successful (and many unsuccessful and repeated) fistula surgery, etc are on the bodies of enslaved women. "In the summer of 1849 he [Sims] operated on Anarcha, the first fistula case he had ever seen, and the operation was a success. It was Anarcha's thirtieth operation." ..

See Terri Kapsalis' Public Privates: Performing Gynecology from both Ends of the Speculum.


What does it really mean to call this a "clash of cultures" Scattered in a Storm's Wake and Caught in a Clash of Cultures.

Is the clash here not only the movement of black people from a majority black southern city to an "old mission grounds here, miles from the edge of nowhere in the middle of eastern Oklahoma." A place where, "word spread fast after the evacuees arrived. Everyone wanted to see one up close. Soon, the gravel driveways wending through the grounds of the old church mission were backed up with trucks and minivans filled with locals bearing bottled water or leftover clothes or just wanting to talk to the Louisiana people, tell them how sorry they were for what had happened to them."

The culture clash is a clash of ideology. One of belief. The volunteers expectations that certain people (folks on welfare = black people) are used to handouts, used to certain kinds of regulation and discipline (or else in need of such imposition of discipline - 1/2 hour meals, scheduled outings, curfew, etc.) are shattered. Their belief that as black people they are like those "refugees" they see on tv. Eternally grateful.

Notice that the url for the Times article uses the word refugee though the word does not appear in the article itself. ( nationalspecial/09Refugee.html?emc=etal) The word evacuee appears each time - why not in the url? Nor does the word race appear in an article in which one of the displaced women says, "Where is they taking us?" Nitayu Johnson, a hotel maid with a young daughter, remembered thinking. "They trying to slave us. They going to make us pick cotton. We gon' die."


THERE are good poor people and bad poor people and invisible (white) poor people. The grateful poor and the ungrateful poor. The inspiring and the ones who need to be rebuked. The "good" poor woman in Nickels and Dimes with "a perpetual smile that masks her melancholy eyes," who has a back story (that is, we know some of the prior circumstances of her life) and who works and volunteers and takes care, as best she can, of her five children with very little money or support. Then there are the "bad" poor people of Scattered in a Storm's Wake and Caught in a Clash of Cultures. Those who aren't grateful enough for the help that is being given to them -- those who are asked "why they didn't get out" of New Orleans when they could. "Their time at the mission [where they would be sheltered] would become both an object lesson in the psychic strains of disaster recovery and a laboratory for the challenges of sheltering victims so different from their caregivers." Hmmm. Object lesson and laboratory.

"The three mission staff members - trained not as the social workers, job counselors or triage nurses the catastrophe called upon them to be but rather as camp directors - treated the visitors as they would summer campers. They set out a schedule of breakfast at 8:00, lunch at noon and so on, allowing about half an hour per meal.

But many of the evacuees chafed under the rules. They were exhausted, some were sick, and they wanted to sleep late and move about in their own time. They were working people - hotel maids, maintenance men, cashiers and nursing assistants - who were used to cooking for themselves on their own schedule and did not like being told what to do and when to do it."

BAD: Scattered in a Storm's Wake and Caught in a Clash of Cultures. "In the beginning, it seemed that wherever the Louisianans went, people stopped them on the street, figuring that because they were black, they must be from the hurricane. A man went up to one of them, Gerald Cooper, a former merchant mariner, and said, "Here, put this in your pocket," as he stuffed a $20 bill into Mr. Cooper's hand.

"It was like we were a fad," Mr. Cooper said." ...

GOOD: Nickels and Dimes. "Whenever I find myself in a difficult situation - I have one kid, and sometimes it's too much for me - I think of her," Ms. Owens said. "She's such an inspiration, with what she faces, and she'll come here chugging along like the little train that could, always smiling."