THIS IS COURTESY OF THE BLACK AGENDA REPORT
“Katrina’s Legacy: Poor Blacks Have No Right to “Be”
Submitted by Glen Ford on Wed, 09/02/2009 – 09:00 gentrification Katrina Anniversary Obamarama
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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Barack Obama’s Katrina anniversary remarks reveal a president who rails against bureaucracy while ignoring the savage race and class warfare at the heart of the (ongoing) disaster. The right of the Black poor to exist is at issue, but that’s way outside Obama’s radar.
Katrina’s Legacy: Poor Blacks Have No Right to “Be”
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Black people’s perceived right to ‘place’ was snuffed out, along with more than 1,000 lives.”
On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama used his Saturday radio address to sum up his understanding of the lesson to be derived from the disaster inflicted on predominantly Black New Orleans. “No more turf wars,” he said. What a bloodless analysis of the forced and – it is becoming clearer by the year – permanent exile of much of the population of a quintessentially Black American city!
No question, there were (and remain) Katrina turf wars aplenty, but none of the official entities battling over funds for New Orleans ever fought for the interests of the African American poor and utterly dispossessed. Hundreds of thousands were hastily scattered to the four winds by common agreement among competing agencies, all of whom regarded the Black exodus as a god-send to be perfected, not corrected. First the “turf” must be cleared of the unwanted human presence; then, the battles could begin in earnest over who would next inherit the land and cash the “reconstruction” checks.
Black people’s perceived right to “place” was snuffed out, along with more than 1,000 lives. Katrina meant that, not only do poor Blacks have no “right to return,” they have no right to “be.” Certainly, if such a right did not exist in New Orleans, where the entire world had witnessed the mass displacement of African Americans by nature and their own government, then it exists nowhere.
“The disaster served to crystalize as national policy the longstanding practice of ethnic cleansing.”
Through myriad actions ranging from the petty to the draconian, the various governmental structures of the United States have collectively set in stone the nullification of Black people’s right to place – the true and awful legacy of Katrina. The disaster served to crystalize as national policy the longstanding practice of ethnic cleansing, once called “Negro Removal,” that is sweeping out urban America at an ever-quickening pace. New Orleans’ weather-triggered but government-engineered purge of the Black poor was simply a fast-forwarded version of the hyper-gentrification at work everywhere that capital asserts its right to “place.” It is a right that often appears to augment traditional white folks’ rights to occupy the choicest locations, but which follows its own dynamic and can be claimed by economically mobile Black folks, as well. From some Black angles, this hardening of geo-economic boundaries looks like freedom: the freedom to become as distant as possible from the poor of your own race.
And so we find that the Black “Mecca,” Atlanta, is at least as relentless as New Orleans in demolishing the last of its public housing stock, without need of flooding as an excuse. Meanwhile, the Black misleaders of Atlanta, who have done all in their power to purge the city of the Black poor, worry that white newcomers will vote them out of office. They have met the contradiction, and it is themselves.
President Obama is constitutionally incapable of recognizing the central crime of Katrina – the corralling and subsequent dispersal of the poor to who-cares-where – because he is bent on perpetuating the crime. Thus, in his radio address, Obama cited New Orleans’ status as the nation’s fastest growing city, sounding for all the world like a mayor who has just bulldozed the last “blighted” neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Then, with awesome banality, the president reminded listeners that “with every tragedy comes the chance of renewal.”
Renewal for whom? Turf wars over what? The Black poor have been displaced from this conversation, exiled beyond the pale of national policy consideration.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
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What will be the greater legacy of and blot on Nawlins?
Submitted by Enlightened Cynic on Fri, 09/04/2009 – 21:56.
1. Bush and FEMA’s criminal negligence/enterprise? Or,
2. Obama’s continuity with Bush and FEMA’s criminal negligence/enterprise?
What excuse will the Obamaites have when, “The First Black President” proves to be as callous and inept, and disengaged as the President who’s administration orchestrated the crime? Is the “Black” (lol) President being “too black” if he helps the 9th Ward residents and those similarly situated who just happen to be mostly Black? Should the White Governor of California help those fire victims most of whom are upper middle class or and wealthy, (living in firezones that only the rich can “afford” to get permits and structural engineers) and are predominantly White? Would Arnold be considered “too white” if he helped those white victims of the Station Fire?
Only in the world of “Post-Racial America” where up is down and down is up would a President, a Democratic one, let alone a so-called “Black” one be too inept or cowardly to help the citizens enduring a natural disaster. Heaven forbid the “Black” President “looks to Black.” LOL
So much for “identity” politics. The “Black” President can do no wrong, but he “tommed out” to get elected, and even though he and (“we”–some of yall) got the Big Prize, he STILL can’t be seen or projected as being “too Black.” Even though he’d be doing his goddamn job. Never mind that Katrina is a solemn blot on the US, and a ripe opportunity exists for a Democratic “Black” President to orchestrate a historic fix. (Or even TACTICALLY take some wind out of a would-be opponent’s (Jindahl’s) sails?) A limp-wristed b***ch who refuses to be a “Saviour” or a real politician. As Mamma used to say, “Once a “Tom” always a “Tom.” LOL
Login or register to post comments Another fantastic analysis
Submitted by sunny-cat on Fri, 09/04/2009 – 12:15.
The Obama and his foolish, vapid, insensitive remarks and actions continue to revolt me.
Please let him answer the call to Hollywood and resign/quit from his front position as president of the USA.
PS. I still do not see any evidence that this man is smart-intelligent.
Login or register to post comments I remeber watching the aftermath of Katrina as it unfolded on TV
Submitted by fran on Wed, 09/02/2009 – 18:05.
Somehow the news crews were able to get there but agencies to help were not.
When I saw the people corralled in the convention center (?) with no food or facilities for days on end, my gut reaction was: This is genocide.
On top of that, poorer people have not been able to return to their homes. It sure looked to me all along like a way to grab the property.
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what you write above,
Submitted by reborn babies on Thu, 09/03/2009 – 01:59.
what you write above, according to my thinking.
how could this be left alone without any reaction from the authorities.
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True. Sad. Housing, education, medical care, and what
Submitted by NYCartist on Wed, 09/02/2009 – 14:09.
happened to “right of return” (e.g. jobs, housing, educa-
tion). Having lived in NOLA for 2 years in the mid-60s, I
still feel some connection. I hated living there.Too hot.
It was a
lonely time for a Jewish woman(atheist) in my 20s,
involved in a small way
in civil rights law office work/research, doing art (went down there
with 1st spouse for his community organizing job in
the AntiPoverty Program. He was hired as partner
of local Black activist/writer/poet.), during the rise of Black
Nationalism. And antiwar vigils in NOLA.
I have been following the story since Katrina “hit”.
(I made protest art during the aftermath, 9/5/2005 and
sent out many copies on paper. I had arrived in 1965,
got there for Hurricane Betsy, which was bigger than
many, but nothing like Katrina aftermath.)
Disabled people got drowned, disabled of all groups,
Does Congress get “let off the hook”?
A couple of years ago, I met another wheelchair
user on 8th AVe, Manhattan. He was holding a cup and
a sign. We got into conversation. He was retired
military and retired NOLA police and had been evacuated
but was having trouble getting money for housing in
NYC. His paperwork was a mess, he said. He’s
African-American. His property was damaged and
he couldn’t get back to NOLA. One of many.
Common Ground collective has done much work in
NOLA (local people). Bill Quigley, of Loyola U. Legal
Project has done work (and writing) about housing,
some of it online, some on DemocracyNow. (I’m
currently “mad at” DemocracyNow for the coverage of
the killings at Memorial Medical Center yesterday,
totally leaving out the points of view of the disabled,
the ill, the elderly and the dead who were killed by
medical staff in the Katrina aftermath. See Not Dead
Yet for various aspects of assisted suicide from the
point of view of disabled people and related topics.
The NYTimes comes in for some heavy criticism,
and where the story on the killing of patients was
pulished last weekend. Is why I am mentioning it.)
Quigly was on Dem.Now at the time of Katrina,
he stayed at the hospital to be with
his wife, a nurse in the hospital at the time,and spoke
to Dem.Now by phone, but has not been on
recently. He has written about and to me, it’s so significant
a representation of the whole thing via one aspect:
the destruction of public housing that never got wet
and forbidding people to enter their homes….”