Thursday, September 29, 2005

Michigan Senate Seat Up for Grabs in 2006

One of Michigan's two senators (both Dems), Debbie Stabenow, is up for re-election in '06.. the two primary GOP contenders include two pastors, one white, one black.. one's from Grand Rapids, michigan, the other from detroit.. Keith Butler, along with Andrew Merritt of Straight Gate, Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries, Glenn Plummer of Ambassadors for Christ Church & CTN TV ministries and Marvin Winans of Perfecting Church have been among G.W. Bush's strongest local supporters (both vocally and $$$) since Bush became the GOP frontrunner for prez in '99.. I've been to Butler's main church (he has like, 7 total) a couple times.. mostly to humor female friends (and no, I didn't get any).. huge place, seats 20,000 easily, but I guess typical for such mega-ministries.. almost like going to a basketball game.. guy has a curiously southern accent for someone who supposedly grew up here.. one sermon, shortly after the Asian Tsunami, included an aside about The Last Days, and the cheery thought, "..and you all know, the Last Days started in 1948 when Israel (became a state), Amen?"..

Did I just hear..? Nahh.. couldn't be.. then again, the auditorium has several giant video screens 15-foot speakers and Surround Sound... oh-kay.. anyway... I'm not sure if he's a card-carrying NRA-er or not, but supposedly he has African safari trophies in his church office-- I have to admit, I'm no trophy hunter (I'd rather just take pictures), but I've known folks who go hunting and I don't hassle them about it.. Still, this strikes me as kinda corny, but I guess when you're the boss you do what you want, & maybe the wife doesn't allow them in the house.. which reminds me.. Oct. 1 starts bow-hunting deer season in Mich.. Nov. 1 allows for gun-hunting.. and chaperoned kids get a 2-week head start.. I'm not kidding.. ..I'm sure I know where he stands on some of the standard hot button issues, of abortion (against), gay rights (against), prayer in public schools (for) and unrestricted gun rights (for, though it may be kind of redundant since Mich. passed a Concealed Weapons Act that makes it easier to get a license to hide a Desert Eagle in your jacket.. not that most folks in the 'hood deign to bother with such formalities)..

I predict a heavily "Family Values"-driven campaign, eventually highlighting past administrations' alleged ties to homosexual plots-- in the form of lobbying for money to go to support schools like U. of M & Mich. State, who are known to have Gender/Sexuality classes that deal with gay culture and the like.. In the hood, there is lingering "alarm" over the presence of "dyke gangs" in the public schools, a phenomenon which totally flies over my head.. people should be wondering more about why there haven't been infrastructure improvements with money that presumably comes from the casinos and state lottery.. why many schools have made toilet tissue only available when you ask for it.. why schools are still overcrowded, despite record de-enrollment in the past 10 years, which continues.. why schools are still "under-booked" as in, not enough books to pass around.. Detroiters got their right to elect their own school board again (a state-appointed takeover began in '01), so let's see if folks can really push to get involved and make school officials accountable. far he hasn't taken any public stance on what to do about Michigan's economy, whether or not to encourage foreign companies to set up shop here.. They might as well.. K-Mart corporate HQ is already bolting to Chicago, and more stores will close soon.. A&P Corporation is scuttling their Farmer Jack grocers chain, one of Metro Detroit's most long-standing grocery chains.. clothing retailer Mervyns is closing all Michigan stores.. Northwest Airlines declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy recently-- in the midst of a mechanics strike.. they've indicated if/when they re-emerge, those jobs probably won't be there..

.. I'm not sure where he stands on the Affirmative Action debate-- in Mich., of course, there was the big debacle when a white female didn't get into U. of M. law school right away-- which led to the Supreme Court decision in '04 that severely altered how Mich. schools conduct their recruitment.. Ward Connerly is leading a new proposal to get on Michigan Ballots in '06, to universally ban aff. action in Michigan period.. ...he's been relatively silent concerning most Detroit-centric issues of recent years, despite having served on city council for a brief stint in the 90's.. offering no comment on the AfricanTown proposal.. or glaring accountability issues in the Detroit Public School system.. or issues of Insurance Redlining (the country's worst!!) and Racial Steering in real estate.. or addressing child care issues in labor, especially as it relates to the working poor-- Welfare recipients are required to work at least part-time (20+ hours), and these jobs are typically bottom-end stuff service industry initially, with shifting hours weekly; which puts the single parents (read: mothers) in binds to find caregivers--

the State has comparatively lenient rules on licensed child care-- there is an option that allows relatives & friends chosen by the parent(s) to get a small stipend for care, but the system is administered by a moderately complex computerized system where people have to enter in data through telephones or the internet in order to receive bi-weekly checks-- Most urban black detroiters esp. the grandmas, aren't on the web, and about 45% of the city is functionally illiterate, which leads to confusion across the board.. Mich. needs better rules for recruitment & retention, as the day care business is pretty low-paying for the average day care worker.. Tragedies have marred the image of the business (last year a deranged dude invaded a home day care, shot several people, and killed his 3-year old daughter because 'he didn't want to pay child support' (uh, no, Michigan doesn't have the death penalty-- moving on); and this past week, a suburban site had a crib death where an infant got wrapped up in blankets and strangled itself..

There are a lot of abandoned and semi-abandoned buildings in and around downtown (a few even have vultures roosting-- naturally!), including Old Tiger Stadium-- old man Mike Ilitch (godfather of Little Caesars' Pizza and the Red Wings & the Tigers teams) might as well not have built Comerica Park(with an assist from city money), considering their record so far (of course, even if the Tigers were good, would black people finally start coming to the games, instead of just selling food and T-shirts there?). IMO, too many of these (mostly suburban-dwelling) property owners are waiting for pie-in-the-sky deals where they can make money hand-over-fist, and thus are simply content to have hulking, decayed eyesores lingering for what is at this point, decades on end (and the 3 casino owners are still looking for 'permanent' sites to build newer facilities plus adjacent hotels).. In my ideal world, they would all be strung with dynamite and razed immediately (the buildings, not the owners-- then again..), but that's not gonna happen anytime soon. So, my idea is that some of them should be converted into large-scale day care/early child development schools.. they could also house after-school programs for school-age children.. with the right people behind it ($$$), it could work, but urban Detroit is notoriously flip-flopping on redevelopment projects, manyof which tend to stay in limbo..

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

class continues, in Africana Studies: History of Work & African Americans.. Had a big debate in this class, concerning Madame CJ Walker & her cosmetics/beauty empire, and what it means/meant for black communities who participated in working for her and/or using her products. What did this mean, in comparison to American/White beauty standards? Did her entrepreneurship exacerbate self-image problems for African-Americans, or did it help to enhance self-image? Consider also the well-documented philanthropy of Ms. Walker.. Does that mitigate the 'issue', for those who think she represented a reinforcement of European-derived standards? Or does that even matter at all?

In class, things really got out of hand, as the discussion wavered from discussing the time frame of Mme. Walker, to discussing today's society, which is of course, still deeply affected by European derived standards of beauty, law & morality. The discussion went further to discuss rap music, and whether its current form is too negative in its relationship to the condition of today's black communities. More fun to come, I'm sure..

Thursday, September 15, 2005

school daze, '05 style--

back to school at WSU this semester; taking a course in African-American History 1865 - Present: "The History of African-Americans & Work": more or less looking at the history of African-Americans within various industries that have come up since the end of the Civil War. Right now I'm reading On Her Own Ground, a biography of Madam C.J. Walker by her granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles. A very good read so far.

Looks as if the course is going to be reading-intensive, we'll be reading about a book every other week. Naturally; as if I didn't have enough things siphoning my money as it is. But, I guess that's just par for the course for your higher education: But-- $128 for 6 books? Egads! All the hustler-types out there need to leave the weed, crack, meth and heroin alone and start selling college textbooks! Stores are making a killing, and it's all legal, and the bad thing is, if the books you use are "unique" to your particular class, i.e., your professor probably isn't teaching the same class next semester, you may end up having a hard time getting rid of them by the end of the term.

Tuition went up this year in all Michigan schools, over 10% average. Students are put in even more of a bind, and it's even more important to scour the Web for scholarship information. I still have old loans from my days at U. of Michigan-Ann Arbor hanging over my head, and I've been avoiding paying it back with hardship deferments for years now, since I just don't have the cash-- I wish I could hit the lottery or something so I could pay it back in one lump sum. Of course, I don't play the lottery, so that's not likely to happen.

...Of course now, G.W. Bush signed that new law some months back that revises personal bankruptcy laws; not that he'll ever be in a position to care about such things, one way or the other.

...John Roberts' Senate hearings are starting now, for his nomination for the Supreme Court (boooo... hsssss). I suspect that the Democrats will put up an opposition as solid as cooked spaghetti, and he'll end up getting in. Of course, he's up for Chief Justice now, which I suspect is a shock for many who presumed that Thomas or Scalia would get the nod for that position. But who now is going to replace Sandra Day O'Connor? Hmm. A Latino? A woman? I think there's maybe a 15% chance of that happening. When it comes down to it, I just don't think a person of color and/or woman is going to get in there, period. "Sorry, next time" will be the credo-- of course, it'll probably be another 15-20 years before one of the rest of them decide to check out..

Rehnquist: Rest in Blazes!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Return of the Legends Part II--- September 3, 2005
Hey, I told you this was a two-night show, right?
If you missed part 1, it's right below this blog- go ahead, read that one first, I'll wait here 'til you get back:
hmm-hmm-hmm... (taps toes)..

Back already? Cool beans. So here we go:
Earlier that afternoon, I headed downtown to the annual International jazz festival- big chunks of downtown streets were blocked off, and several stages were set up between Compuware headquarters and Hart Plaza on the riverfront. Street vendors were set up along the lower Woodward strip (T-shirts, purses, jewelry, oils/incense, African art, etc.) and you had to buy tickets to get food from all the various food outlets selling stuff. Mingling around the festivities, unfortunately I missed the Ford Field Football Classic that’s been happening this past couple of years, finally bringing some HBCU football—and their bands—to Detroit.
Close to show time, I finally made my way down to Chene Park. It was again hosted by Serch, the show tonight started a little late, but was set off at first by old-school Detroit rap act Detroit’s Most Wanted/DMW. They performed like three cuts and they stepped—then Chubb Rock, came out, and Chubbster performed two of his songs, including "treat em right" in between a DJ-assisted medley of old-school funk/soul & hip-hop cuts.
Next up were Brand Nubian- Puba, Jamar and Sadat set it off nicely with all their signature cuts, including post-breakup/solo and reunion songs, like "Don’t let it go to your head", "slow down", "360", "I like it", "brand Nubian", "love me or leave me alone".. during Brand Nubian's set I got a call from Pvt. Militant (, but the noise was too deep to hear-- I had to run to a less noisy part of the stadium and call him back-- turns out he's in town, and I got to talk to Chuck for a minute who explained I had some free passes at the service office.. I had already bought my tix, but I definitely could use the backstage pass--
After some technical difficulties, Digital Underground were next, repped by Shock G and Money B, and introduced DJ NewStyles, from Milwaukee. They ran through a short set of "do whatcha like", "humpty dance", "kiss you back", "oregano flow", and led the crowd in a singalong to Tupac’s "I get around" and "So Many Tears", before closing with "Freaks of the Industry" (but not before inviting all the ladies up on stage)..
Naughty By Nature was next- Treach and Vinnie took the stage (KayGee apparently left some years ago) and started off with "OPP" then went into their other hits including "guard your grill", "it’s on", "uptown anthem", "everything’s gonna be alright" and eventually closing with "hip hop hooray"..
Then at last, Public Enemy took the stage, starting off with "prophets of rage", "black steel", "shut ‘em down", "can’t truss it", "public enemy #1", "911 is a joke"; Chuck took time to shout out Mayor Kilpatrick for pledging several hundred hotel rooms and other assistance for families affected in New Orleans. He also gave props to Kanye West for putting Bush on blast in his unscripted tirade on NBC’s relief telethon. The band finally closed with "fight the power".. it was a shorter set than usual—city union/teamster type rules insisted the show be over by 11:30 or they start charging the promoter for overtime, so it had to end there. For the concert, anyway— Several peeps from the Impossebulls were in town, getting footage for future dvd releases.
For the uninitiated, the Impossebulls ( are a rap crew hailing from different parts of the globe that came together through mutual love of Public Enemy through PE’s website- initially sharing beats & rhymes over the web, they’ve produced an album and dvd that’s put out through Chuck D’s Slam Jamz indie imprint. Group member Pvt. Militant from Flint, MI hit me up on my cell, and let me know where the Enemy Board/Impossebulls crew was hanging—I swung by and saw him, and finally go to meet several other members of the fam- C-Doc (who hit me off with Slave Education), Marcus J, and Tirade (and two significant others—whazzup, ladies). We headed to the backstage dressing area, but hold it—I had been confused on where to pick up my backstage pass, so I never got one—and the security chick held me back.. Tirade was gracious enough to hang with me in the interim, then Rapstation journo-photog and longtime Enemy Boarder Old School 76 pops up and lends me his pass to let me over the barrier (which Tirade and I had temporarily moved to let an SUV pass by, no less, helping out the guard; which earned me no sympathy, alas)..
So anyway, we all start chatting outside the Chene Park business office/changing rooms area, then after a few minutes, the Omni Hotel vans are ready to take us back to the hotel several blocks away. Arriving at the hotel, we see various PE crew hanging out in the lobby, as well as Brand Nubian, who just arrived—Grand Puba looks a little bored as he chats with some peeps—
We spot the reality TV star himself, Flavor Flav, who has a couple of girls with him, and one of them’s holding a bucket of KFC..
We headed upstairs in the elevator with Flav; apparently CDoc/Tirade’s room was on the same floor, and we all headed in the same direction down the hallway—but it was clear that Flav’s party was strictly on the solo tip, and he abruptly turned to enter his room with the chicken & the chickenheads (damn, share the wealth, Flav!) We didn’t see him again.
After a few minutes of hanging in the ‘bulls room, Pvt. Militant, Tirade and I took a walk out to a nearby CVS pharmacy—apparently CVS doesn’t sell beer, but Ti got his cigarettes; and as we walked back to the hotel, Ti regaled us with the story behind Afrobeat music star Fela Kuti’s "Expensive Sh*t" (I’m glad we hadn’t eaten yet). When we got back to the hotel we hollered at Chuck, who was going to head out to the afterparty and/or visit relatives in town. We headed back to the hotel room, where Marcus had decided to call it a night early, as he and his girl started out on their drive back to Xenia, Ohio— Hope you got that case of Red Bull, Marc..
It took some extended cajoling from Ti to convince Pvt. Militant to roll with us to the nightclub. P.M. let us know that he was cooling off the club scene after nearly getting robbed at gunpoint and literally dodging a bullet the last time around. Eventually, Pvt. Militant, Ti and I then headed out to the Stinky Rose (is that a reference to the Outkast song?), a new nightclub that was hosting the afterparty.
We got in free: "We’re rolling with PE and we ain’t payin!! What!!" was the phrase in the back of my mind that was never uttered, thankfully. After our, ah, credentials were established we made our way through the joint (uh, the establishment that is), which had been turned into a semi-block party with blocked-out streets on either side. But things were apparently winding up. Money B was in the house—tipsy (Shock, where you at?), as was Brand Nubian. Drinking gin on the rocks with lime (thanks, Ti) in the VIP area, we observed that it wasn’t as rife with willing groupies as we might have wanted. Once the bar service started shutting down (except for $3.50 cokes—yikes) we headed back to the Omni.
PM decided to call it a night and head back to Flint (or "Fly-N.T."; heh—um—guess you had to be there)...On a solicited tip from the head of security (the dude looked like he could be Johnnie Cochrane’s younger bro), Tirade and I headed to room 125, still hoping to find some active partying going on, preferably with several women who’ve imbibed several drinks. We knocked on the door. Two shirtless brothers answer, and it’s clear that they’re wasted:
"Who is you?"
After explaining that we’re just looking for wherever the party’s at, they graciously let us know that there’s only two chicks in the room. Dang. They let us know if it was a better chick-to-guy ratio, that we’d be in—especially if Tirade had his video camera. So the brothers give us a pound and we head back to the waiting room, trying to figure out what to do next.
Tirade and I head out to a 24-hour IHOP and get to chop it up quite a bit on the way there, as well as during our time there—before we got seated, we had to submit to a search (hey, I went through it twice tonight already, so I guess I should be used to it). Apparently, this IHOP—which used to be owned by Anita Baker—has had problems with the late-night crowds and instituted the search policy a few months ago. Just for the 10 pm.- 6 am crowd, naturally. Did I mention that Ti and I got to talk quite a bit? The food certainly didn’t get in the way, as it took about a ½ hour for someone to come by to take our order. In the midst of waiting, we both observed all the typical celebrity photographs framed and mounted on the walls—iconic former mayor Coleman Young; 93 – 01 mayor Dennis Archer; and current mayor Kwame’ Kilpatrick. One of the biggest was a concert photo of Ted Nugent. Why anyone would want a 36" x 48" of a shaggy-maned Nuge staring at them while they’re eating their strawberry pancakes & western omelets I don’t know—at least he wasn’t holding a severed buck’s head in his hands.
As our chat continued, Ti and I noticed one of those customer survey cards, and considered giving all ‘zeroes’ (or whatever their rating system was) but apparently we forgot about it after finally getting our grub. We headed back to the Omni, where apparently CDoc and his girl had went to sleep. Ti slipped me the Impossebulls’ Slave Education cd/dvd that I had left on the dresser and I started on my trek back to the hood.
..I didn’t drive that night, so I had to wait for our wonderful (ahem) Detroit bus systems to get me back to the home base. In the evenings, most bus routes here cut back severely, many stopping service around 11 p.m. Even with the continuing routes, after midnight it’s murder to wait—sometimes literally (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist). After I left Ti, I walked back to my job’s office building, which was barely 10 minutes away. I’m glad our entrance cards work after hours, because I had to do #2 really bad. I half-considered simply sleeping at my cubicle, but I figured I might as well head home.
It was a little after 5 a.m. by the time I left the office building to the bus stop right in front of it. I had a two-pronged bus trip ahead of me. I ended up waiting until 6:30 to catch my first bus, hoping that my sleep-derived stupor would not manifest in quasi-drunken chattiness. With luck, after I got to my half-way point the bus I needed to transfer to was just taking off—but it got caught by a red light (yes!). Hopping in, I head up Grand River Ave., which leads all the way into Lansing if you’re driving. Anyway, the chilly air from an open window helped to keep me awake a little longer, and by the time I got off my 2nd bus, it was 7:15, and I still had about a 15-minute walk back to home base. When I finally got in, a pleasant surprise waiting for me. No, none of the chicks from the afterparty followed me home. But apparently when the mail came that day (usually our postal person doesn’t hit our block until late afternoon), one of my latest E*Bay purchases had come in, which, up until now, I had forgotten about. A promo copy of the "Shut Em Down" maxi-single with the Pete Rock mixes. Ooh. Talk about karmic.
PS- shout out to enemy board’s Double A—he saw me right before PE’s set, but disappeared during.
Return of the legends, part 1:
Friday, September 2, 2005:

Well, alrighty then.. At last, the concert is here. As I was representing Northwest Indiana for the vast majority of my youth, I never really got the chance to see any hip-hop glitterati during the so-named Golden Age heyday of the Reagan/Bush pt. 1 era of performers (see the archives- So when these 'Return of the Legends' showcases started up last year, I was definitely down. Last year, the two-night lineup included Slick Rick, SugarHill Gang & Melle Mel, Special Ed, Nice & Smooth, & more.

This time, there were over 10,000 people packed in at Chene Park, just east of downtown Detroit, situated on the Detroit riverfront. Boat owners set anchor near the outdoor amphitheater and got to see the show for free.
The first act started promptly at 8:10 p.m., as MC Serch served as the host, introducing all the artists, and providing a running commentary in between sets, with longtime WJLB radio fixture TJ the Trouble Man.
First up was X-Clan—Brother J was joined by one of the new members (I forget the name), who served as a hype man. The DJ replacing Sugar Shaft I did not recognize. Giving a shout-out to Professor X, Bro. J ran through the hits like "grand verbalizer", "funkin’ lesson", "heed the words of a brother" (?), etc., and maybe two newer cuts, from a planned 2006 comeback LP in the works.

The next artist to perform was DJ Quik. People—especially women—were really screaming now. Quik popped open two bottles of champagne on the crowd up front (though one was a dud..) and went on to do a shorter set, including "born and raised in Compton", "just like Compton", "tonight", "dollaz N sense" and "SBP"… Quik jumped on the speakers at one point, and went in the crowd a few times.. one of the more raucous moments was when he invited a crew of white girls in the front row up on stage during "tonight", and they all surrounded him to grind-dance, some of them singing word for word.

MC Lyte was next (mmmm... Lyte), a repeater from last year’s Legends concert. the luscious Lana gave a shout out to K-Rock, who she said was somewhere in Alabama, helping family, then set into her routine, starting with "Paper Thin", then alternating with a cappella and DAT-backed renditions of "stop look listen", "10% dis", "roughneck" "keep on keep keepin’ on", and brought an audience member to sing her part of "self destruction".. she also dropped a few freestyles and closed with some excerpts from a new cut, maybe a new LP next year. Alas, no "cappuccino", or "cold rock a party".. close as I was to the stage, I wish I could’ve gotten a hug from her.. all female MC’s should age this well (Lil’ Kim, take note..)

My favorite part of the night was next—and totally a surprise for me.. Last time I read a blurb about the show, Big Daddy Kane was supposed to be next, and I had seen another flyer where he wasn’t even listed.. so I wondered—Serch’s introduction lingered for a minute, then finally touched on that this next cat was a mentor for him, from the South Bronx.. could it be—nah—could it be..? It is!!

KRS-ONE was back in Detroit at last, less than a year after a lecture (that I went to) and performance (that I missed) in October of ’04. Busy Bee was his hype man, and his DJ was a young cat named Cochise.. Cochise was the first DJ to rock vinyl tonight, others were rocking cd’s or it was a DAT cue.. The teacher started off with "MC’s act like they don’t know", and proceeded to preach and teach with partial renditions of "black cop", "outta here", "underground", "Sound of da police", "illegal business 2004", "south Bronx", "I’m still #1", "the MC", "step into a world", "hip hop vs. rap", and a few freestyles, before an encore encouraged (staged?) by Serch, closing with "My Philosophy" and "the bridge is over".. Finally, after buying over 12 albums (most in cassette form at first, then CD, sometimes twice due to theft), I finally get to see Knowledge Reigns Supreme in concert, albeit a non-headlining set.
Random KRS Quotes: "When you lose your job, you find your work.. What is your true purpose?" "All of y’all with boats out here should be in New Orleans!" "respect yourself. Be good to yourself. Love yourself!" "It should not take a disaster for me to help my brothers and sisters!"

When KRS stepped (Teacher! Come back!), it was time for Whodini inside the joint, who also co-headlined last year’s show. Grandmaster Dee appeared first, teasing the crowd for several minutes with a medley of assorted R&B 70’s jams, before finally Ex and Jalil took the stage, joined by Doctor Ice of UTFO as a hype man (Doc is Jalil’s brother?). They started off with "big mouth" (rapped to the instrumental off Tony Yayo’s single), then "Friends", "Funky Beat", "I’m a Ho", "Freaks…", "One Love", and closing with "Five Minutes of Funk", allowing throngs of people up on stage..
Then DJ Quik CAME BACK, this time, with a half-empty bottle of Remy in his hand, and then did an encore performance of "Tonight".. heh-heh..

Apparently, the show had a strict end time of before 11:30.. which is screwy, to me—I mean, we’re all adults here, I didn’t see any younger kids in the crowd. But them’s the breaks with the city.. Union rules and what not.
The afterparty was right afterwards at a nearby nightclub, but I’d had my fill for tonight.. Serch says that part of the proceedings are going to a relief fund..
To Be Continued---

Friday, September 02, 2005

Make Politicians Pay Attention:

a sample letter that i've been emailing to various elected officials, those near me as well as national-- every little bit helps. a lot of these folks are running for re-election circa '06, so keep that in mind:

To whom it may concern:

I would like the federal (regional, local) relief efforts to be steppedup to help New Orleans and the other areas affected by the disaster:

Some suggestions-
For transportation-- appeal to corporations-- get bus companies like greyhound, trailways, etc., to donate buses for evacuations. similar things can be done: charter moving groups like U-Haul, etc. at the various temporary shelter sites, donated food can come from restaurants and food distribution services. All these companies can get tax credit for their donated resources.

The Army, Navy, and Marines should be brought in tohelp get people out. Military helicopters can be usedto lift people in groups, and Navy and Coast Guard ships can be used to transport people on water.

You should propose a bill where all the victims of the disaster should get amnesty from income taxes for this next coming year.

Thank You

city, state
citizen, taxpayer

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Disaster for the South-
Hurricane Katrina has devastated a big stretch of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Louisiana. Mississippi. Alabama. Even northwest Florida. By now, over 80% of New Orleans is underwater. Thousands are feared dead throughout the path of the storm. Cities are in states of chaos; water engulfing entire homes and neighborhoods. Clean water, toilet facilities are at minimum. Power is out most places. The bottom-feeding frenzy has already started, with some desperate folks turning to violent means to get what they want. I can empathize with most of those who are scrounging to get sustenance and shelter. Seeing folks grabbing food, drink, basic clothing, blankets, etc. is one thing—a TV set or car rims is another—where the hell are you gonna plug in the TV? What the hell are you gonna put those rims on? A bicycle? You’re flooded out, your neighbor’s flooded out, too. So even in the midst of this great disaster, some folks have their priorities twisted, by some unseen force.
Just looking at the TV/newspapers, it hits home that a great many/majority of those affected by this natural disaster are black. Of course, regardless of color, Americans in general are suffering as a result of this, and all deserve equal attention. But to paraphrase a folk saying, if something good happens, black folks have to fight for their share; but when something bad happens, black folks end up getting more than their share.
...I don’t understand the rationale for those who "chose" to stay, initially, once the warnings started to come out. Obviously, many people have lived where they've lived for all of their lives-- sometimes in the same neighborhood. Obviously, emotional attachments are made to neighbors/family, friends, family possessions, etc. I imagine a great many of them simply assumed that the storm wouldn’t be that bad. How grievously wrong they were, unfortunately. And many others, for their economic circumstances, obviously didn’t have vehicles of their own and had little money for multiple bus/train/other tickets out of town, to stay for who knows how long. From there, who knows what opportunities they may have had to carpool or something else along those lines. At the risk of being stereotypical, it seems it seems that poorer black folks are regularly uninformed about local community services, both public and private. I hope that these agencies are getting the word out for regional assistance to take place. One possible roadblock in applying for assistance for many of these services is the paperwork that it normally takes, to ensure proper follow-up, etc. The sheer amount of homeless out there now may make this process maddeningly difficult. And whatever the illiteracy rate is for New Orleans and surrounding communities, this is going to make the process even worse. And people who’ve lost everything don’t feel like filling out a bunch of papers just to get aid.
…Just thinking about some of the related problems to this. Schools shut down. From elementary to college, where do young people go? Would other school districts accept them? Would home-schooling and/or ad-hoc group schooling have to take place in some communities? Would they just have to sit it out and end up behind their peers for this year?
…Identity theft. it may be worse than the regular theft going on. Lost credit/debit cards, mortgage papers, car titles, etc. Will mortgage companies, banks, car dealerships give people a break on these disaster-related losses, or will they insist on getting their cheddar and squeezing folks when they’re down?
…I wonder how many people will permanently leave, and try to start a new life elsewhere? Will other communities around the US be prepared for such a mass exodus? Will they be generally welcoming, or will there eventually be some kind of 'cap' put on hurricane 'refugees', especially if/when many start seeking public aid?
…For the children who have been lost, there is a danger of kidnapping. And for children who have lost their parent/guardian(s), what now? The foster care systems of various Southern regions may find themselves overwhelmed even more than they probably are already.
…I hope that religious clerics—from all backgrounds—lay off the "God’s Revenge" rhetoric (especially seeing as how N.O. is a long-time notorious ‘sin city’), and just focus on being good neighbors and helping out in whatever way they can. Of course, I suspect that for many agnostics/atheists/lapsed believers caught up in the midst of the disaster, this will be their turning point where they want to get ‘saved/born again’. I just hope they get some practical assistance and aid along with whatever religious guidance they’re seeking.
…I see that several hip-hop personalities have stepped up and are starting relief efforts, including Master P and some other Gulf Coast rappers, who reportedly lost ‘everything’ in the disaster. I hope that these efforts get some press coverage. Not that helping isn’t its own reward (or should be), but because so much of hip-hop media coverage tends to focus on arrests, shootings, fistfights/stabbings, or extravagant lifestyles, and little attention is paid to community investment and charity efforts that many hip-hop folks participate in. If nothing else, it would help show that hip-hop is not all about the thug/thief aesthetic, and that it is humanitarian at its best.
…Not to be cynical, but this situation has graphically shown that people’s material stuff can be gone like that. So when it comes to hip-hop’s preferred spoils du jour- fur/leather coats, jewelry, ultra-tricked out cars & trucks- all of it is just as vulnerable to being fodder for pawn shops and garage sales as everyone else’s stuff. Bling-related items offer little in long-term value, and have virtually no value in terms of emergency needs. Oh, I suppose a Hummer or similar truck is valuable to go over rough terrain at a time like this. But if you’ve got rims that make your tires thinner than they should be, then getting through mud & slickness is going to be worse than it should be; and then of course, there’s that pesky low gas-mileage thing. I wonder how many of these machines are just sitting if only because the owner really couldn’t afford the gas it would take to drive away and keep going.
obviously, this is just really the beginning of this particular saga, the effects of which will for sure be felt for years to come. Again, to risk being political, as the resources are tapped to help out with this situation, I hope that the America public takes a harder look at what's going on with these military efforts in the Middle East, and how so much money & manpower could be better used domestically.