30 August 2006

remembering hurricane katrina

It's been a year since the devastation in the Gulf Coast region, and the area is still suffering greatly. Many parts of New Orleans (especially the poorest neighborhoods that were predominantly black) are still empty and residents are still waiting for cleanup - one year later... some living in tents, in those shoddy FEMA trailers, and many others living across the U.S. trying to re-build their lives. Insurance companies are not paying. FEMA money has run out. People have been spread out across the United States with no way of getting back home. The city keeps promising to bring people back and rebuild - but very little progress has been made. And gentrification is underway in New Orleans. Spike Lee's documentary on HBO "When the Levees Broke" is bringing attention to these issues, but there is more to be done. What I really liked about the film is how he gives space for people to tell their own stories and express their frustrations. It is utterly sad. If you saw the documentary, what did you think? What kind of impact do you think Lee's documentary had on the public? The reviews I read of the film were for the most part positive, but some blasted Spike Lee for the length and the demonizing of the government. (As if the Bush Admin doesn't deserve it?) Also, I've been checking out the 'anniversary' stories on the BBC, MSNBC, and on alternative news sites which are bringing some of the problems back into the public eye. I've noticed overall that people are outraged at what happened and that people are still suffering - but I wonder how long will these stories will stay in the news? And the news stories about race (or that touch on race) turn into sadness about the loss of culture for New Orleans rather than any real discussion of the socio-economic inequities that existed pre-Katrina for many years. I don't watch T.V. so I'm not sure of how the networks and major news channels have covered the anniversary, so please share your thoughts on any interesting coverage. I was checking out this excellent site for current information about recovery efforts http://www.katrinaaction.org/, and they have a list of action items which I wanted to share:

1) Visit www.katrinaaction.org to connect with information, find local organizations and learn about Actions which impact housing, health, jobs, and many other issues. Some actions will only take 30 seconds of your time.

2) Put pressure on your state and federal officials to act now. You can email to comments@whitehouse.gov and call Congress at (202) 224-3121. You can also send emails to your Representatives including FEMA by visiting KatrinaAction.org

3) Make sure that news media tell the real story of Katrina and its aftermath and continue to do fair stories and reports. Call your local news, radio talk shows, and write letters to the editor. Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)has an online kit with contact information for media outlets and sample letters at http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=119

4) Got five minutes a week? Become KIN by joining the Katrina Information Network. KIN folk commit to five minutes a week to send emails to their network and to policymakers to keep these issues on the public agenda.

Join the fight at www.katrinaaction.org
Real relief. A just recovery. And nothing less.

some of these take only a few minutes to do... If you know if any other actions thangs, feel free to share and we can spread da word... thoughts, reactions, ideas???

catchin da wibe,

15 August 2006

what happened to july?

so I got back from my trip home, and somehow the entire month of july escaped me in the midst of work, work, and more work... I had some crazy deadlines, but the good news is - I met them :) I finished the written materials for my qualifying exams - dissertation prospectus, introduction, a chapter, and bibliography - and my oral exam is on the 21st of August... just days away... suffice to say, life has been hectic... and I also taught for the past six weeks - dreaded college writing 2 but that's over now and it was actually fine. Being back in da'ville has been challenging - I'm missin' home fa real. But I returned with a renewed sense of urgency - to get shit done - an' dat is kinda what I did... July brought me stress and success - perhaps the universe does work in three's - cause I met my major deadline, found out that I won a fellowship I applied for, and five of my poems got accepted for publication - so all in all, summer madness has brought to bear worthwhile and fulfilling fruit...

And even though I got all this stuff done, I still look back on July and wondered what happened to it? where did it go? an' august threatens to slip away just as fast. As soon as I cover its pages of seconds, minutes, hours, and days, the weeks rush through my fingertips as my calendar becomes dated, my notes no longer make sense, and all my promises are broken... perhaps these are not so much promises, but rather they are all these unspoken notes written in memory during showers, dreams, and car rides, notes that promise I will do this and that, call so an' so who I haven't talked to in ages, mediate, exercise, spend time wit' me, listen to that album I've been dying to hear, file old notes and bills, and oh yes, while I'm doin all this, somehow get my work done to... cause isn't that why I 'm here - to get dat paper... an' in the midst of writing, thinking, and sorting out all the shit in my head to make it sound like what I want to write about for the next two years, nothing makes sense anymore, but it comes together - ready to be seen and heard... I finished something and it felt so good... I wanted to scream from the ocean's edges, tell my spirit guides, my ancestors, that I think I can actually do this. I was beginning to doubt myself and the stress started to get to me... which is why I had to check out, so all I did for weeks was write, think, reflect, write some more, take mental health days, and take care of me... an' while home had so many blessings, it also came with difficult and painful memories - most I try to escape but they catch me unguarded and ill prepared to feel all that again... I hope for days when it won't be so hard, when they will only tug at me ever so slightly and I can smile through them...

so what in the hell does this have to do with july? this is where it went - lost between my work as a phd student and my life as I search for well being and reconnecting to my spiritual truth; july 2006 - trapped forever between my 30th birthday and my tenuous august 1st deadline - with my mother's birthday among the ashes and my journey to discover her again and again.

an' now we in august, i look forward, wishing for more positive three's an' wibes.
I have no insightful reports and riveting debates to start right now - all I have is this and these words that probably only make sense to me and my lost july...