Katrina Information Network has a list of 29 thingsyou can do right now to assist the displaced and victimised citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. They have some beautiful New Orleans local music on their site. More soon.
The Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference ends tomorrow, Saturday. Monday, Oct 1st, I plan to attend "A New Challenge to the Congressional Black Caucus", my former boss Major Owens'Library of Congress think-tank panel on the CBC and his forthcoming book, The Peacock Elite: A Subjective Case Study of the Congressional Black Caucus. I'm interested in the results of Mr. Owens' opinion survey that he's asked his former colleagues - Black Caucus members (Members of U.S. Congress) to complete. Monday's panel includes current Congresswoman Maxine Waters (Los Angeles, California); former CBC members, Oakland (Cali) Mayor Ron Dellums and attorney Louis Stokes; author and Univ. of Maryland political science prof Ron Walters; and author Michael Eric Dyson, now on faculty at Georgetown University. I have not yet seen results of the congressional opinion survey, though I'm certain we'll hear more on Monday. Since retiring last January after 24 years representing Central Brooklyn, NY's 11th congressional district, Mr. Owens is now a distinguished visiting scholar in the Library of Congress's Kluge Center.
For some strange reason we just don't seem to be hearing as much regular, in-depth news and information as we should about post-Katrina issues facing New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and the USA. So, we suggest you check the Summer 2006 online table of contents of, and subscribe to, the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. From Gulf Coast women's voices and the right of return of New Orleanians internally displaced (these are the two human rights' terms) across the U.S., and restoring regional health care infrastructure. This is all about salvaging and creating grassroots democracy (what other kind is there?) in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. And, really, in the USA. Thank you for showing that you care.
In 14 Million Dreams, Miles Roston's documentary film about Africa's millions of children orphaned by HIV and AIDS, Ms. Lucy Yinda describes how she started the Wema Centre for the rehabilitation of street children and community orphans. I can never forget the children I've seen, in Africa, in the U.S., the Caribbean, South America, the Balkans: children sniffing glue to numb hunger pain, refugee mothers with babies, smiling or anxious dirty-faced children in rags running through traffic at intersections, sometimes carrying a smaller child, begging passing drivers for change. I will never understand how anyone can take advantage of another person in such conditions. Please give Wema Centre your financial, political and spiritual support!
I should've posted this weeks ago but here goes. If anyone believes there's a "level playing field" in competing for leadership in the US, you need to remove your head from whatever hole in which it's stuck. Just because it's the 21st century and currently 2006 and some of us have high-speed Internet is no reason to deliberately subscribe to delusion. In New Orleans the son of former mayor "Moon" Landrieu(and sister of current Louisiana US senator Mary L.) and member of one of Louisiana's traditional - read 'white' - political family dynasties challenges a Black guy whose father, no disrespect intended, definitely never was elected to any Louisiana statewide office. New Orleans' ex-mayor Marc Morial's late father, Ernest "Dutch" Morial, was the first-ever Black (or Creole) mayor of New Orleans when he succeeded Mitch's dad as New Orleans mayor in April 1978. This was almost yesterday - the late 1970s - not the 1870s. Marc Morial himself, now head of the New York-based National Urban League, was a successful multi-term mayor of his hometown. Yet when it came time for him and his backers to look around for what he could do next they realised he was not going to be elected the next governor of the Bayou State. I guess Marc couldn't even seriously consider lieutenant governor - the post currently held by dynastic N.O. mayoral contender Mitch Landrieu. Landrieu could, and did, get that job. In Louisiana with his name and colour it could be handed to him - and probably was. But not Marc Morial and not Ray Nagin. Before Katrina drove out over half its majority-Black population, New Orleans - and only since the '70s - had become an oasis within a statewide political wilderness, giving at least some (albeit local rather than statewide) chance to a relative handful of Black Louisianians aspiring to exercise political leadership in their own society. Is Black American political leadership in our own country and in our home communities still too ambitious in 21st century USA? This gaping disparity (between defacto exclusion of Blacks from leadership in most of Louisiana versus a chance for Blacks to compete locally and successfully in pre-Katrina New Orleans politics) exists because like all over the USA - including the "non-racist" (?!) American North and West - millions of white Americans still refuse to support and vote for Black candidates. Even if their lives and true democracy depend on it. Another case, another state. Illinois. Barack Obama, with a Kenyan father and white American mother, reportedly depended on Black Americans as the faithful, decisive and visionary voter base that made him Illinois' first Black US senator, though he is not an ethnic Black American. (And ethnic Black Americans aren't Kenyan or White American.) Even being 'half white' did not convince a majority of Illinois' white voters to vote for Obama. That fact is deep but it is not new. If anybody ever asked us we Black Americans always have known about and felt the stab from the "'flakiness' factor"of our white kin/fellow US citizens. (Like white abolitionist John Brown there are exceptions; they deserve the attention they almost never get from the MSM.) In some circles such irrational social-political behaviour would at best be construed as apublic mental health problem. Just as importantly, it's blatantly anti-democratic. At the end of the day, whoever is elected in N.O. today, the whole world needs to be aware of Katrina's unintentional yet very real impact in undermining at least four decades of work and achievements and civil and political rights organising and social behaviour change on behalf of everyone eligible to vote - in New Orleans, in Louisiana, in the South and across the USA. When the cards are on the table this playing field remains far from being level and the ceiling is so low Black Americans still can't stand up. You just have to wonder why most US pollsters and public opinion researchers do not ask Americans about this and do not seem to care.
Barely a month ago George Bush pere(the daddy) told all of us how badly he felt for his boy George as Rev. Joseph Lowery and former president Jimmy Carter took W to task at Mrs. Coretta Scott King's funeral.Well, Daddy definitely will not be pleased with,and he and Barbara may not want to see, CSPAN's video of the 2006 Sobu conference. Al Sharpton, Harry BelafonteandLouis Farrakhan each takes a turn putting Bush act II's name in his mouth, and repeatedly including his role in the devastating federal response to Hurricane Katrina. All this was in Saturday's SOBU State of the Black Unionconference. Um-um-um. I almost felt sorry for Bush. Again. But this time thank heaven he wasn't there applauding and wondering how to act. And all this was on his "home territory." No, not Connecticut. Houston. In Texas. No matter who or where you are, if you consider yourself a thinking human being please read and consider supporting SOBU's Covenant with Black America. In remembrance of the early British North American presence - the root of the UK-US 'special relationship', and of course not excluding Britain's role in the slave trade - SOBU organiser Tavis Smiley announced in Houston that next year's conference will convene in good olde Jamestown, Va. Throughout 2007 Virginia will remember the last four hundred years since American Indianssaved the bacon of Englishsettlers at a place that came to be known as Jamestown. So many Black Americans have ancestors and family from Virginia. Incidentally, we wonder how the quadricentennialplanners intend to accurately incorporate the fact that until 1792 Kentuckywas part ofVirginia.
This is for my buddy and brother Washingtonian George over at Negrophile("one who loves and admires Black people"). Thank you for that inspiration, in spite of such things as Harvard University's"implicit association test" - which neither mentions nor measures the existence of those of us (not only among Blacks) who love and admire Black Americans - Black folks any and everywhere. Thank you, George, for Negrophile's truth and inspiration. I also thank the spirit of my cousin, Harry Lee Gudger, God rest his good-natured soul. In his lifetime Harry Gudger was a native of Muncie, Indiana USA who later became an elected officer of the Texas NAACP. From Zvornik to Srebrenica, from Travnik to Somalia, Haiti and beyond I've been asked: "'What'(ethnicity)are you?Where are you from?" As I walked to work one morning in eastern Bosnia an elderly man asked (translating): "Gospodja ("ma'am") - Are you from India?" I looked my elder, that's what he was, in his eyes and let him know, "no, sir", I was not from India but that I was Black American, meaning this particular US North American version of our mestizajes of the Americas - our various, similar yet diverse mixtures of African + Indigenous Native American + European - mixed race ancestry. In other words I am 100% Black American. I realise and cannot accept as some among the 'newly mixed' assert "their" issues and identity right here in the same geopolitical space by apparently ignoring and supplanting - even denigrating - any thoughtful consideration of the processes by which mixed race people in the US and Americas were created centuries ago. In other words, I thank the Creator for making my people - Black Americans - as fully human as most of them truly are; and in the face of and in spite of such indifference, cruelty, craziness, deprivation and depravity, all taking place in the midst of unprecedented wealth and power. Across the world and including some recent immigrants to the USA - so many people have told me they've been inspired by Black Americans... So if there is karma and as Black Americans say, "What goes around comes around," God, send me back another time as a Black American, a Black American woman.
My brother just shared with me that the annual, public, free SOBU conference - the State of the Black Union - sponsored by broadcaster Tavis Smiley, is now being televised on CSPAN. Tavis says there are 5,000 persons attending the conference in Houston, Texas, plus scores more watching nationally and internationally via CSPAN. Thanks bro. Check it.
This information is from the Southern University New Orleans (SUNO) campus website. Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fundis offering US$500 emergency scholarships to students affected by Hurricane Katrina who normally attend SUNO, and also to students who are from New Orleans who attend a member school of the Marshall scholarship fund. Click for more info. Also - students from Xavier, Dillard and SUNO are eligible for a $1000 scholarship through the Tom Joyner Foundation.Deadline for this second source is 31 October 2005 - email HBCURelief /at/ blackamericaweb.com - send your full name, the school from which you are transferring, the school you are attending and a phone where you may be reached. Other important financial aid links for students from SUNO's fine website:
Melvin Collier over on the Afrigeneas forum kindly informed me of BlackAmericaWeb's Hurricane Relief Fund which is "providing support to families who are assisting those displaced by Hurricane Katrina." You can donate online or mail it to: BlackAmericaWeb.com Relief Fund, PO Box 803209, Dallas, TX 75380-3209. Please donate. Thank you and God bless you.