3.02.2006

The State of Black America Part II: Katrina

Who is tired of hearing about the people affected by Katrina? Raise your hand. If your hand is in the air put it down and give it to me so I can smack it. Then read on.

If you're wondering why the Katrina debacle is still a story 6 months and one day later, let me help you. There are so many issues and so many people who will be impacted by Katrina, directly and indirectly for the REST OF THEIR LIVES, that I would really love a Katrina channel. I'm not kidding. That would totally be the first thing I turned on everyday. Think about it. It would offer the latest news, with breaking news scrolling across the bottom of the screen. The last couple of days would be the first Mardi Gras after Katrina: Party 'til It Hurts No More. or 6 Months Later and Still no FEMA trailer. Today would be, New Video Released Shows Bush knew the Severity of the Storm Before Katrina Hit. Get it? And there would be features. Not just New Orleans, but the entire Gulf Coast. Cost-wise and particularly in our community, this is the most expensive natural disaster ever. Ever.

The channel could also have features. It would show the story of someone, who may or may not have returned. Some people may never return, some will only return for a visit, but refuse to live there again. In case you don't know what I was talking about with the FEMA trailers, let me help you. There are thousands of trailers sitting in NC because the agency has not yet determined how to give out trailers. One woman has had her trailer and just got electricity on Sunday. Sunday. As in 6 months since the storm hit on August 29th, Sunday. The sewer system is still nearly non-existent. More than 200 New Orleans police officers either deserted or quit. And that's only in New Orleans. Along the Gulf Coast, and further inland, there are people who did not attend school for weeks. There are entire towns flattened.

My family is from Mississippi. I also have family and friends in New Orleans. This is not something that can be fixed in a year or even five. This is something that will be an issue for most, at the very least, psychologically for the rest of their lives. Imagine this. True story. One of my closest friends, my favorite roommate in college, Kristen is from New Orleans. Her then 14-year-old brother left home that day with his mother, grandmother, other sister and niece. Their grandmother hadn't wanted to leave their house. They're used to flooding in New Orleans. It's below sea level. It floods all the time. Kristen's sister was hysterical after hearing the reports and insisted on leaving. So they all left, taking some pictures, important papers, and three days worth of clothing. They went to Alabama and have been there since. Kristen was on the phone with me watching CNN pointing out her high school, her sister's best friend's house, parts of Xavier University, recognizing streets and knowing her entire two story house had to be under water. Her brother took none of his favorite things. When Kristen asked why, he said, "Because I thought we were coming back."

Then I saw another news story about these kids who finally got to come together and play a football season, and a set of brothers who liked their new school, but just wanted to go back home. One of them just wanted to finish his senior year. That's when I started thinking about how all the kids are effected. I can't imagine what it would be like to leave not knowing there were people in your life, at your school, in your neighborhood, you would never see again. Can you imagine that? The neighborhood you lived in all your life is completely gone. Decimated.

But what if your parents decide they want to rebuild? Then they may need to find new jobs, or get insurance money when the company has said there was only flood damage and you don't have flood insurance. And not only that, everyone around you has been given money for wind damage. Then there's the issue of the other people in your neighborhood. You have to make decisions based on what your neighbors want to do, as well. You can't live in a neighborhood where you're the only home and there's only blight surrounding you.

When I have a minute, I just search Katrina on the AP wires. Every day I find a story. Every. Single. Day. The Katrina Channel. Check it Out.

*If you know someone who would like to make this idea a reality, I don't mind. Just ask them to offer me a job. I already have several ideas. I only need a contract with benefits and due compensation for the contacts I already have. Anyone know Spike Lee?

For the part I of this series, click here.

20 comments:

DP said...

It is the American nature to file away issues that dont have a personal buzz to you as soon as is convenient. We worse than any culture I am aware of detatch ourselves from our history. And that is what Katrina is...HISTORY.

Just like life in America is defined by before 9/11 and after...Life in America will...or at least SHOULD be defined by before Katrina and After Katrina.

CNEL said...

I agree Jameil, the situation regarding Hurricane Katrina is in need of continued contextualization.

It is the most severe and costliest natural disaster America has seen, it disproportionately affected African-Americans yes, but caused a heavy blow to one of the greatest symbols of America as a melting pot. The history, the culture, the legacies which need to be preserved and restored.

If you get a contact, put me in contact. I got skills too, I can make myself indispensable.

Holla

Epsilonicus said...

I wish you could make a Katrina channel. I would work for it. I hate when I hear people say why are we still talking about it. We talk about it because we are still feeling the effects. Katrina is like Iraq: We won't be able to leave it alone for years to come.

So...Wise...Sista said...

Every time there's a Katrina story...somebody gets shot by the VP, or some miners get killed...or stars start ballroom dancing and skating...philanderers drop 81, etc. etc. America has ADHD.

I'd watch the Network Katrina...but only if Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling tag team in the field. lol

jameil1922 said...

quote of the week = america has ADHD. at the very least can we get a weekly katrina show?????? who i got to shoot to get that?? i'll do it. we already have three people who want to work on it, and at least 2 viewers. there you go. can't beat 2 viewers. that's more than some of those history channel joints.

Honey-Libra said...

It's so sad how the government isn't really helping these people like they should be. They are giving them deadlines..how are you gonna give someone a deadline to move on when they have no where to move on to...I mean dang some people were already living on the poverty line.

I have noticed that once they start with Katrina stories that they try to talk about other things, Like Dick shooting someone..boo lock him up and move on to bigger and more important things.

Stacie von Kutieboots said...

Nigel's little brother Nick was at Xavier. I believe the school is back...but he's still in Tennesse waiting for his facility to be up and running. A mini generation of would be black doctors, gone.

Ladynay said...

I would watch the channel, just not everyday.

My girlfriend touched on Katrina last night during a talk and she mentioned that the way they are planning to rebuild Katrina, most of the people who were there won't be able to afford to come back.

lj said...

As somebody who lives on the coast.. I'm reminded of the damage caused and the ongoing problems on a daily basis.....but I understand that many people not affected have moved on... I mean we've mines collapse and civil wars and stuff since last August. i am glad that some people recognize that Katrins is(like dp said...history.

Chris said...

Yes, America needs to not forget the destruction Katrina inflicted, nor the idiocy of the Bush administration that made things worse than they already were.

Karamale said...

i totally agree with the katrina channel. my post today was "inspired" by that bitch.

E said...

Jamiel, thamks for your part in keeping Katrina fresh in our minds.

Aisha T. said...

A Katrina channel. Some real news to tell us what's going on insted of the smut they try to distract us with (you know, what celebrity couple broke up, etc.). A brilliant idea.

heartbreaker said...

Jameil, i have to say that you are definitely one of my favorite bloggers. Primarily, because you keep it real and lay it all out. I love your opinions and what you have to say. Keep doin' what u do. The Katrina Channel should definitely be a reality (which in a way, it is) it's sad how easily we "forget" but you know this country is driven by money, and sadly enough to say it, that channel prolly wouldn't make enough money to stay on the air unless it was run by the government (but their money's gone elsewhere) even the news, now is all about entertainment, and like someone else's comment about how America has ADHD, it's true... it's a story for a moment, and then in most peoples' minds it's out of sight, our people will not focus on it enough, we feel we know all there is to know and have done what we could and are leaving it up to our government, but what i'm thinking is maybe it's out of mind because it's out of sight, so maybe the Katrina channel could fix that, and things could get accomplished much sooner... hmm... i can't imagine having experienced that first-hand, great post

CNEL said...

This is probably really late, but my show is on tonight from 6pm-7pm, and music is on from 7pm-8pm!

jameil1922 said...

ugh chris. you missed me! i was knocked out anyway. you know i go to bed hours before the sun.

thanks heartbreaker. ok i've considered the funding, too. all the usual suspects for rebuilding could be there- home depot, red cross and other help orgs, artist PSAs. i'm sure someone in the sales dept. could think of many more. Gulf businesses trying to rebuild or get more notice, people running for office. but that's also why you would need someone w/a lot of independent money.

D. Sands said...

Dang, son, I'm mad late on this post. Hot stuff. Two things, a Katrina channel haha...Chris is right, costliest disaster, and probably the biggest news story in ten or so years. Also, why this has such a huge impact six months later to me is because this country absolutely SUCKS at rehabilitating the poor. S-u-c-k-s. And they are failing again, and folks like us just have to be there to see how we screw it up again.

ELH said...

Aiight, aiight, I know I haven't been here in a while, but I was sure you would be here. And you are. Your post made me go back and reread one of my own from August:

"Imagine it: Climbing to the top of a dorm at Xavier University to escape the water. Fleeing to the neighboring state not knowing if your home will have been swept away to Alabama or Mississippi by the time you get back. Watching your home fill with water and split apart. Losing grip of your wife’s hand as she drowns. Begging the police to help your injured husband from going under. Hearing them say they’ll come back for you later. Then seeing your husband drown and having those same officers tell you to push him out of the sun so that his body doesn’t start to smell.

Those are just some of thousands of stories. Coverage of this disaster has been like watching a reenactment of the tsunami in Indonesia late last year. It's amazing how we don't really feel pain until it hits close to home. I know I said “imagine it,” but thousands don’t have to."

I agree with Aisha. Thank you for keeping it fresh in our minds.

spchrist said...

Alright...the votes are in...you're getting the top spot on my links section...RIGHT NOW!

Peabo DeBarge said...

you should give current tv a shot. all of their programming is viewer based. i've been trying to come up with a submission (something deliciously ig'nant, of course), but your idea sounds like something they would be all over.