Revolution #60, September 10, 2006
The following article is from the World Can’t Wait website (worldcantwait.org).
Report from New Orleans
It Is What It Is
8/28/06: A report from Jamilah Hoffman, a World Can’t Wait organizer who was in New Orleans for the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
“It is what it is.” That’s a saying that has been going around town and it’s part of what makes New Orleans the “Big Easy.” People are up against a lot and while they know what is going on and want to do something about it, sometimes the enormity of the situation can be too much. People just want to move on.
Hurricane Katrina not only exposed the link between race and class in this country, it also alerted the world to the lengths that this regime will go to implement their program. The statement marking one year after Katrina on the World Can’t Wait website sums it up clearly: This is not government ineptitude, it is the beginning of genocide, colored with racism and excused by religion.
Going into the neighborhoods, especially the 9th and the Lower 9th wards will make you rethink everything you had thought about in the aftermath of the storm. Talking with residents will open your minds about what they went through and are still going through. At the same time, it gives you an understanding of the despair people feel. Yet there is so much potential and possibility to build a movement here that The World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime can be a force to turn that despair into hope.
The message of World Can’t Wait resonates soundly in the African American community because of the racist and genocidal history of Blacks in this country. The reaction of the Bush regime after Katrina hit reinforced this so when we brought the message of this movement out in New Orleans, the responses were entertaining as they were enlightening.
In the Lower 9th ward we ran into two women who were with their children. They had grown up around the block we were standing in, but their homes, if still standing, were devastated. They talked about being in the Superdome for four days. They told us about a woman who was walking around hysterical, looking for her children. She would go to other people’s kids and try to pick them up. Of course everyone thought she was crazy. It was found out that she was in a helicopter and was holding her infant in one hand and her toddler in the other. She was losing her grip when she reached for her child with her other hand and lost them both into the water. The only rescue attempt made was to throw a rope down to the drowning babies.
One woman was in her last trimester and had to walk through water with her two children to the Superdome. Another woman said she used bleach, literally, to get the smell off of her skin. While residents in New Orleans had to risk a helicopter ride, which itself wasn’t guaranteed to be safe or make their way in neck-deep water; in Lebanon, nearly on the other side of the world, the U.S. military airlifted thousands of Americans in a matter of days. The criminal nature of the response from the Bush regime must not be ignored.
These are real people. They had jobs and houses. They had lives. A little girl we spoke to said, after looking up and down the block exasperated, that, “I just don’t recognize it anymore. It’s so sad.” She then told us she wanted some more flyers and that she had some things she would like to say to Bush. We joked that all she needed was a microphone and she told us she was ready. Her mother, whose grandfather had helped to pave the first streets in the 9th ward, who built the home that she lost in the storm, was more weighed down. “Twenty-one years, gone,” she said. “I’ll never forget it.” As it began to thunder around us and her son started to beg his mom to leave, she told us that he’s afraid every time there’s a storm. “The people want to come back,” she said. “They need to pour money into cleaning up the area.” When asked about President Bush coming to New Orleans to mark the anniversary of Katrina, her friend said, “He [Bush] must be trying to get impeached. He says that they’re doing everything to redeem themselves but, whatcha doin?”
We talked to one 65-year-old man who was in the process of rebuilding his home. He was drenched in sweat and while talking to us a friend of his had drove by. She yelled out to him and asked if he was going to the party that night. “Of course,” was his response.
The culture of New Orleans is unique. We stumbled upon a jazz festival and saw people of different races, ages and economic situations all dancing together and listening to some great music. This is the New Orleans that I’m used to. That we’re all used to, and the Bush regime is working to remake this town into a place that does not reflect that culture or the people. Enough is Enough! October 5th, we must all…Bring This to a Halt!
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