"Well I stood dropping a coin into the pit of a well, And I would throw my whole billfold if I thought it would help"
1986 was the year of the Challenger explosion, complete nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and Quaddafi. I was in sixth grade and that year was catastrophic. I started my period (and I know my mother told her stupid friend Connie about it even though I begged her not to). I was vaguely aware (hopeful?) that I would grow out of caring what the mean girls thought about me – but their effect on my day-to-day was trumped when I learned of something so horrible that even a gas mask couldn't save me or my family. I was horror-struck.
At 17, my brother, mother and I took the City of New Orleans from Effingham to New Orleans and back – she for a conference and me to nominally look at Tulane. A highlight of the early part of the trip was sitting in the solarium car with my brother, listening to Beastie Boys on our shared Walkman, and making up alternative lyrics to ‘No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn.’
Soon, however, it became clear that we were traveling in a place much different from where we came. It’s easy to see that when you’re traveling through the South on a train. Poor in the South is a much different animal than poor where I grew up, and the shacks that lined the railroad tracks through Mississippi and Louisiana really drove that point home.
Now, southern Indiana is not known to be a bastion of progressive thought, but I had lived up until that point without actually hearing a grown man called ‘boy.’ On the ride home, a whole private-school fifth grade of Mississippi white kids were upset when a woman ran into the train and was killed until we found out she was ‘just black.’ Then it was just back to laughing chatter about who kissed whom that day on their trip to the Statehouse. I was revolted.
My last post was 30 August. I knew it was bad in NOLA then, but nothing like it turned out to be. I, like any geologist or frosh who’s taken ‘Rocks for Jocks’ or its equivalent, has known that New Orleans would be hit someday – and hit hard. It’s preserved in the geologic record and we have over 100 years of historical data to see that hurricanes affect the coastline. I’ve known it intellectually. But now, even more than a week later, I feel impotent and angry. I feel 11 now, 17. How can this be? How can my country have agencies that are so overtly racist and discriminate against the poor – now, in 2005?!
amandamonkey’s World of Stitch is not primarily a political blog, but honestly, I am a very political person and even 'coming out' a few years ago as a feminist who does needle arts was a political decision. (Warning: if you don’t like this one, just skip the post I’m going to make on women in science next week).
Ashley has a great post on keeping the events of the past week and a half in perspective.
I wish I could say that I am optimistic.
I wish I could say that finally Americans will actually see the invisible members of our society and help them get ahead.
But instead I fear that the recently liberalized definition of eminent domain will allow developers to sweep up vast quantities of the Delta and turn New Orleans into a sterile, Disneyland version of its former self.
But instead I feel hate for those who voted for Bush & Co because of the gay marriage issue (no one was going to make you marry a gay person). Thanks a lot.
In future posts, I will probably make little mention of Katrina or of the massive, needless suffering of our brothers and sisters that live in this so-called democracy are experiencing. But be sure it's on my mind.
Before I go, you should be aware of suffering here in the Northeast as well:
Well I should stop pointing fingers
Reserve my judgement of all those public action figures
The cowboy presidents
So loud behind the bullhorn
So proud they can't admit
When they made a mistake
Well-poisoning spews from a speechwriter's pen
He knows he don't have to say it so it
it don't bother him
Honesty, accuracies just popular opinion
And the approval rating's high
And so someone's gonna die