Saturday, September 3

Kanye West: Stand Up for Hurricane Victims

One of my closest friends is unaccounted for in New Orleans, is not yet even being searched for in the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, we finally learned Wednesday that she is alive -- for now. You see, my very decent, hard-working, Jaguar-driving friend Dee Dee is eerily trapped inside her powerless house in Orleans Parrish and close to starving to death. The car had been troublesome, had broken down a month ago on the very highway-bridge that was destroyed by the hurricane. So she was "stuck" in New Orleans to weather the storm, alone.

At some point, she ventured out of her flooded home and into the waist-high "slop" -- the sewage, remains of the deceased, and wildlife feeding on them -- with intentions of wading to the Superdome.

But somewhere along the way, a sheriff stuck a gun in her model-lovely, mocha face and threatened to shoot it off. And then at the Superdome, when she realized there was no way in hell she'd be able to board a bus to Houston, she decided it was too risky to stay overnight in the pitch blackness with the crowd, which was likely more irritated and anxious than she. So she waded back home. And there she sits and waits...

I imagine what she waits for. For help that she sadly doesn't know may not arrive for another week? Is she sitting there journaling apologies and "I love yous" to those of us who are having omelettes and coffee and typing away at our computers this morning? Or possibly, she is awaiting her death, a way out of the hell-on-Earth her beloved town has become. Despite her patriotic lifetime of tax-paying.

While she waits, she takes cat naps, I imagine. But at some point, she may be too hungry and too tired and too defeated to awaken from what must be nightmarish sleep. Somewhere inside, she may figure that death would be better, her only relief.

But this post isn't really about Dee Dee, who we may never see again, at least not alive. This post is about how a most unlikely person, a remarkably talented producer-rapper, has spoken up about the plight of my friend and tens of thousands of others in New Orleans who are in the same predicament and dying.

The musician I speak of is Kanye West, whose "controversial" remarks last night on NBC's Hurricane Relief Fundraiser sent heads spinning across America. For the record, my head spun as my hands clapped loudly together and I realized my mouth had gone on auto-pilot, with me screaming "Kanye! Kanye! You go, boy!" at my television. Same way some folks unabashedly shout "Amen" when the preacher hits a nerve.

What led me to such an emotional outburst were words for which Kanye, the son of a former Black Panther and a Chicago State U. administrator, will go down in history: "President Bush doesn't care about Black people." There. He said it.

And if it isn't true, prove it. Because from where Black America sits, this insanely slow response to the plight of those drowning and starving and dying in New Orleans is yet another painful case in an oft-made point.

So it's taken a Chicago hip-hopper, Kanye, to break through the clutter of the annoying, yakking heads who've hi-jacked the news casts (and therefore, "popular" opinion), to make people pay closer attention to the personal affront that many feel in the disaster coverage.

Clearly, many of us share Kanye's pain. Just yesterday morning, I submitted an editorial to a major online newsletter which frequently publishes my thoughts. In that letter, I voiced utter frustration with the mainstream media's constant harping on "the looting" that's taking place in New Orleans. Who the hell cares?! It is simply a blaring sign that all of the systems that these good taxpayers have paid into, to come to their aid in time of dire need, have failed miserably. At this point, the police should be helping people get into these various, inoperable stores, to help themselves to sustenance, Pampers for their babies, and a fresh change of clothes.

I am sickened, and I am hardly alone, in imploring the mainstream media to curb the racist histrionics. To mature, to realize a paradigm shift in the face of this disaster. The media has exponentially worsened this crisis. If you're going to talk about people trying to keep themselves and their families alive in this situation, do not scare off the bus drivers and others there to aid the suddenly homeless by terming these survivors as simple, criminal-minded "looters."

Trying to feed your family knows no color, no class. If this disaster had happened in Palm Beach, Florida or Beverly Hills or Park Avenue, the spin on the story would be so astonishingly different: the media would be blasting the government in ungodly ways for allowing so many wealthy Whites to perish, for reducing them to eating garbage. Even Republicans would be yelling "Impeach!" over this ineptitude.

But alas, my convertible Jaguar-driving, tax-paying African American friend, Dee Dee, is nobody. The only people yelling "Impeach!" on her behalf may be Kanye and me... and a growing number of restless others who feel slapped in the face. Again. Because to us, Dee's import is unequivocal. Because, but for the grace of God, she is us.

But that said, those who are in Palm Beach or Beverly Hills ought to wake up on this failed response, too. Because it is frighteningly clear that everyone -- regardless of color -- is potentially "Dee Dee." And I can prove it: think "Terror Attack."

In the event of a "man-made" disaster, the only thing different from the story pervading our TVs today will be a diversity of skin tones. As we approach the fourth anniversary of September 11th, you'd think all the money that's been poured into protecting the homeland would have us in stellar shape.

Obviously, Homeland Security is a joke. Hurricane Katrina is an example of the emergency management we're getting for our money. It is time to tell the I.R.S. we demand a refund, particularly if you're paying loads into the federal system. Your tax bracket -- none of that -- will matter. If you're lucky, you'll live to "loot." And if your children are equally lucky, they'll be around to see someone pointing a gun in your face for grabbing an orange from an abandoned, but well insured, store.

If you haven't yet pledged support for victims of the Gulf Coast disaster, they very much need you, and sadly, it will never be too late. Here's a link to Fly Jock Tom Joyner's Hurricane Relief Fund, for your convenience... Please click: Black America Web Relief Fund

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like


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