Brad Smith (jesus_h_biscuit) wrote,
Brad Smith


Why the poor stayed in New Orleans
Living paycheck to paycheck made staging a quick evacuation impossible
To those who wonder why so many stayed behind when push came to water's mighty shove here, those who were trapped have a simple explanation: Their nickels and dimes and dollar bills simply didn't add up to stage a quick evacuation mission.

"Me and my wife, we were living paycheck to paycheck, like most everybody else in New Orleans," Eric Dunbar, 54, said Saturday.
So here it is, a news story on something I've been waiting to blog about. Let me begin by stating that I am going to rip the fucking throat out of the next 100 people who blame the refugees in the Gulf coast for being poor, but not before anally raping them with a giant silver spoon.

Unless you grew up in poverty, unless you've spent time in poverty stricken areas, unless you've lived on a pack of crackers for two days and have nothing but water to drink on a regular basis, unless you've lived for years without air conditioning or heat or in a lot of cases even luxuries like hot water, unless you've been homeless or damned near close to it with nowhere to go and no one who gave a shit about you, DO NOT make the mistake of speaking to me about poor and disenfranchised people. Unless you grew up in a violent environment where murder, gunfire, and gangs were a commonplace fact of life, where all you had was your family and the mere idea of being separated was incomprehensible, unless you know what it is like being shit on because you didn't have the advantages of clean clothes and blind acceptance in society, don't think you have ANY FUCKING CLUE what poor people go through. As a matter of fact, you have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER to even criticize unless you've spent time in the poorer areas of your own community talking to people or volunteered time at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. Your "We're all equal"'s, "Everyone has the same opportunities"'s, mean less than shit.

For years (until I had a family of my own to take care of, back when it was just me) I used to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas day at a local shelter - taking people in, setting up cots for them to sleep on and talking them to sleep, playing with kids, cooking and serving them breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sitting with them while they ate. The first time I sat at a folding table to see if everyone was enjoying their dinner, two of the four people offered me some of their food - as gratitude for my efforts and my accomplishments in treating them like human beings. They share what they have when they can, because sharing means survival. And I am NOT a special man for the choices I have made to help people, that does not make me special at all - it makes me a decent man, maybe - but certainly not special. I used the restaurant I once managed as a drop off place for food, clothing, monetary, and other donations. They were kept in a portable storage building donated by a local company that only cost me a phone call explaining my intentions. I got these donations for the same shelter I volunteered my time at, and in one holiday season alone I filled that shed 18 times. One person, motivated enough and concerned enough to take action and make a difference where it is needed can and will accomplish more than you could imagine. And what it does for your self esteem when you're unselfish is priceless.

So what kind of person are you, the kind that wants to let things be someone else's problem and responsibility and bitch about it without trying to affect change, or are you decent? I'm asking - no, I'm challenging you here. Just who are YOU?

Hello, reality.

'They Just Left Us Here to Die'
At the New Orleans convention center, thousands waited days cut off from relief.
The convention center was a disaster area, with excrement smeared on the floor of the La Louisiane Ballroom and people sprawled on dirty mattresses amid the stench of urine, sweat and rotting garbage. Outside, the street was clogged with trash and evacuees trudging with their meager possessions toward long lines waiting to board buses parked several blocks away.

Like those crammed into and around the Superdome, the convention center dwellers described living in misery among gunshots, looting and filth. They also spoke angrily of being abandoned by emergency authorities — cut off until Friday, they said, from food, water and medicine.

"The only thing the authorities have given us is a bunch of false hope," said Debra Ann Spencer-LeBeau, 49. She said she had survived Tuesday through Friday on scavenged scraps of food inside the cavernous hall. "They just left us here to die."

In a darkened storage area behind the convention halls, two corpses lay under sheets. On the street outside, the corpse of a young man was covered by a black curtain, with a trail of dried blood leading to the curb.

A team of emergency medical technicians, rolling a gurney, rushed down the street but barely looked at the corpse. They were headed to pick up evacuees too old or sick to walk.

See also New Orleans Begins to Deal With Its Dead
THIS is reality. We're all mourning the death of loved ones and of cities and of homes, but when is the reality going to collectively sink in that what happened in Angola and Ethiopia is happening here on American soil? Does a hurricane have to decimate Jeb Bush country to get some asses moving? Does it have to detroy YOUR city, YOUR home, YOUR family to get you to care enough to take action and help, or at the very least demand accountability from those that should before you?
Tags: activism, goddamnit, hurricane katrina, introspection, news, poverty
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