Cracking Up Post Katrina New Orleans

Cracking Up Post Katrina New Orleans


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Right now I’ve got a good idea of how the people of Fallujah feel—it’s been how long?

Almost two years and their stuff still ain’t reconstructed. Yesterday

some government official was bragging about the oil production



Cracking Up: Post Katrina New Orleans

 By Kalamu ya Salaam


Our driveway is cracking. Horribly. Really cracking.  Just saying “cracking” is an understatement. One ridge sticks up two or three inches higher than the rest. And the door that leads from the den to the washroom (which itself is just a small extension behind the garage), that door does not fully close. Above the door sill inside the den there are very, very ugly, highly visible cracks in the wall. And we’re lucky. Our house did not receive flood waters. The phone has been ringing daily with requests. Right now there are three or so interviews to do (or not do) this week—we’ll see how I’m feeling when the time comes. The thing is people don’t want to know the real deal. It’s too depressing. I usually don’t bother even talking about it. It bothers me when I talk about it, so I know what it does to others. Right now I’ve got a good idea of how the people of Fallujah feel—it’s been how long? Almost two years and their stuff still ain’t reconstructed. Yesterday some government official was bragging about the oil production was about to reach pre-invasion levels, like that’s some great achievement. Iraq was under siege and broke before the invasion. New Orleans was falling to pieces before Katrina. So anyway our current home was suppose to be the last time we moved. I hate moving. Trying to pack up when you haven’t even fully unpacked from the previous packing. This house was recently remodeled, was in move-in mint condition. Beautiful. Comfortable. A retirement squat with plenty of room for grandchildren and friends to visit. And now the ground is shifting. Literally. Last week the daily paper ran a feature on the water supply problem. Seems that two thirds of the potable water that is produced is leaking into the ground. Wait, it gets better (or worse-depending on your disposition, cynic or sarcastic; they don’t have too many pollyannas running around New Orleans these days). The city figures they are losing something like $200,000 a day. They didn’t even have to dig a hole to throw the money in, they just let it leak into the ground. Plus, to add insult to injury, they have to keep pumping more and more water because if they don’t, the water pressure will fall too low. Ok? Now here comes the kicker: fire and shit! Once again, I mean that literally. First the fire. The fire department has been having a tough, tough time fighting fires. The water pressure thingy. Plus, many of the fires ignite and get going roaring good before anyone in deserted neighborhoods notifies the fire department, and then all of the fire stations are not back up yet, and the fire personnel are overworked, and—well you get the idea. The bible promises “no more water, the fire next time.” Well, we’ve had the water and currently we’ve got major fires burning up the city. Now, as for the shit; the name of the agency that is responsible for the water is the “Sewerage & Water Board.” If the water is leaking into the ground because Katrina did a number on the underground water infrastructure, then it’s axiomatic that the sewerage pipes are also leaking. That’s right, raw sewerage leaking into the ground, and nobody has a clue as to the rate of the leaks or at least nobody is owning up to knowing. Just like smart bombs doing dumb damage in Iraq, I’m pretty sure Katrina didn’t just crack the fresh water pipes. But who knows, I could be totally wrong about that. Right now there’s no way to confirm or debunk that. What I do know for sure is that the streets are falling apart, a long term result of first, Katrina flooding, and currently a result of drought conditions that are prevailing: water and fire. I may not know for sure why, but I do know for sure there are craters appearing seemingly overnight—I said “craters” because I didn’t mean your garden-variety, average urban city pothole; I mean axle-busting, big-ass holes in the asphalt. I’m telling you what I know from experience driving these machine-eating streets. I know once I get home and pull into the driveway, I’ve got to be extra careful. And I know I can’t fully close the den door. That’s what I know for sure. I also now know for sure why “they” say ignorance is bliss. It’s because knowing what we now know ain’t nothing nice. Don’t be upset if you call and I don’t answer or that if I answer and you ask how I’m doing, don’t be surprised if I mumble “ok” or “alright” and change the subject. It takes a lot of energy to keep from cracking up.

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Men We Love, Men We HateSAC writings from Douglass, McDonogh 35, and McMain high schools in New Orleans.

An anthology on the topic of men and relationships with men

Ways of LaughingAn Anthology of Young Black VoicesPhotographed & Edited by Kalamu ya Salaam

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music website > writing website > daily blog > twitter > facebook >

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Guarding the Flame of Life

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New Orleans Jazz Funeral for tuba player Kerwin James / They danced atop his casket Jaran ‘Julio’ Green

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02_My_Story,_My_Song.mp3 (24503 KB)

(Kalamu reading “My Story, My Song”

Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

Track List 1.  Congo Square (9:01) 2.  My Story, My Song (20:50) 3.  Danny Banjo (4:32) 4.  Miles Davis (10:26) 5.  Hard News For Hip Harry (5:03) 6.  Unfinished Blues (4:13) 7.  Rainbows Come After The Rain (2:21)/Negroidal Noise (15:53) 8.  Intro (3:59) 9.  The Whole History (3:14) 10.  Negroidal Noise (5:39) 11.  Waving At Ra (1:40) 12.  Landing (1:21) 13.  Good Luck (:04)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

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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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated  23 July 2010 




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