ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
the lack of response to this national cataclysmic event was nothing short of Americas blatant fear
of going into Black neighborhoods without substantial firepower, be it police or military
and the horrendous response by the US Government
By M. Quinn
A cataclysmic event of epic proportions hit the Gulf Coast regions of the United States on Monday August 29, 2005 and displaced hundreds of thousands of Americans in Louisiana and Mississippi while leaving the people of that area scattering for their very lives, and scavenging for food days after the devastation.
Meteorological experts have stated that this catastrophic event called hurricane Katrina was the worst natural disaster to hit the shores of America in its more than two hundred year history. Floodwaters swelled to twenty feet in many areas. The effects from Katrina traverse a distance of more than two states, and have killed thousands of people.
Within 24 hours of Katrinas devastating wrath emergency federal relief efforts had not been dispatched to the affected areas, which prompted Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans to make a desperate televised appeal to the United States government for immediate assistance as stranded, displace, hungry and frustrated people began to gather by the thousands in Downtown New Orleans.
Some 48-72 hours later, emergency relief in the form of adequate food, water, toiletries, and other essentials had not been disbursed by FEMA, and by Friday morning some four days later, countless people still remain strained at the New Orleans Convention Center with no electricity, no security, and apparently no assistance in sight. The enormity of this devastation left innumerable people on the streets, and destitute without basic necessities as clean water, food, and shelter for at least three to four days during this monumental disaster.
The response time by the Federal Government for this devastating human tragedy was utterly inexcusable as mostly Black grandmothers, Black grandfathers, Black sons, daughters and babies died by the hundreds, as the United States government refused to send in the critically needed supplies and security via the National Guard, which resulted in countless people living in areas surrounded by sewage, human waste, and dying bodies decomposing on a daily a basis.
Too make bad matters worse, the media began using the phraseology refugees to describe thousands of displaced Americans. Even though the word refugee is defined as People who leave their homesand often their countriesbecause of war, famine, or natural disasters (i.e., flood, hurricane, drought), and live for a long time in makeshift communities that lack basic sanitation, such as running water and toilets. These are American citizens, and at the very least deserve to be addressed as such, considering that their very lives were turned upside down by this cataclysmic event.
Many citizens of the Gulf Coast region were found drown in their own homes by the flooding waters. Media reports indicated that at the New Orleans Super Dome, which housed mostly African Americans that were displaced by this horrific event that there were likewise countless corpses decomposing in the corners of the stadium; while State and Federal Officials left them there for days as disease increased due to these human carcasses scattered about. In essence, American citizens were left to live like animals for days at a time, with the federal government being non-existent in a critically needed response.
Some of the repeated excuses being echoed across the media were claims that areas such as New Orleans were to hostile, or uncontrolled to enter and dispense aide.
However, America has recently embarked upon a three hundred billion dollar experiment in Iraq at the courtesy of American taxpaying citizens to invade a country with a situation extremely more hostile than any American city. In essence, the lack of response to this national cataclysmic event was nothing short of Americas blatant fear of going into Black neighborhoods without substantial firepower, be it police or military. In addition, to the blatant disregard for the lives of those who suffered, and died.
Within two days after the devastating Tsunami in Southeast Asia, food, water and vital relief efforts were delivered and disbursed to the people of that region. The question that remains is; Why such a slow and downright absent response for the poverty-stricken people of New Orleans, Could it be because a disproportionate amount of them are Black?
As I continued to watch this outpour of human anguish with apparently no Federal aide or assistance in sight, CNN Anchor, Jack Cafferty spoke the very words that my mind produced as he uttered them. He stated, that most of the media were doing their best to ignore the fact that a great percentage (probably 98%) of those left in this extremely perilous position are Black folks.
This overwhelming event in human suffering coupled with the brazen disregard for human life by the Federal Government, categorically conveys the hearts and minds of those in charge within the United States, and what their true feelings are toward the poverty stricken, and disenfranchised African Americans nation wide.
In fact, it was not until Friday, September 02, 2005 some four days after the fact that President George W. Bush decided to visit the devastated area. As a Commander Chief of a sovereign nation, President Bush should have flown to the devastated area within 24 hours of this horrific event to reflect his commitment to the citizens of his own nation, and immediately announced a plan of execution along with FEMA coupled with state and federal officials.
President Bush has repeatedly masked over a tremendous amount of blunders and down right lies while in office. However, as citizens of this nation, it is imperative that we hold him and his Administration accountable for this egregious failure in response for the very lives of those who died. How many times does the trumpet of injustice have to sound before we band together, and emphatically state, Never Again!
M. QUINN is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer specializing in historical and political analysis and commentary.
posted 4 September 2005
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 20 April 2010