Black People : cornel wests article in UK/Observer on 9/11

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by deepy, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. deepy

    deepy going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Published on Sunday, September 11, 2005 by the
    Observer/UK

    Exiles From a City and From a Nation

    by Cornel West

    It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the
    misery we saw among the poor black people of New
    Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty.
    It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.

    What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was
    the most naked manifestation of conservative social
    policy towards the poor, where the message for decades
    has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really
    were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and
    it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the
    fittest. People said: 'It looks like something out of
    the Third World.' Well, New Orleans was Third World
    long before the hurricane.

    It's not just Katrina, it's povertina. People were
    quick to call them refugees because they looked as if
    they were from another country. They are. Exiles in
    America. Their humanity had been rendered invisible so
    they were never given high priority when the
    well-to-do got out and the helicopters came for the
    few. Almost everyone stuck on rooftops, in the
    shelters, and dying by the side of the road was poor
    black.

    In the end George Bush has to take responsibility.
    When [the rapper] Kanye West said the President does
    not care about black people, he was right, although
    the effects of his policies are different from what
    goes on in his soul. You have to distinguish between a
    racist intent and the racist consequences of his
    policies. Bush is still a 'frat boy', making jokes and
    trying to please everyone while the Neanderthals
    behind him push him more to the right.

    Poverty has increased for the last four or five years.
    A million more Americans became poor last year, even
    as the super-wealthy became much richer. So where is
    the trickle-down, the equality of opportunity?
    Healthcare and education and the social safety net
    being ripped away - and that flawed structure was
    nowhere more evident than in a place such as New
    Orleans, 68 per cent black. The average adult income
    in some parishes of the city is under $8,000 (£4,350)
    a year. The average national income is $33,000, though
    for African-Americans it is about $24,000. It has one
    of the highest city murder rates in the US. From slave
    ships to the Superdome was not that big a journey.

    New Orleans has always been a city that lived on the
    edge. The white blues man himself, Tennessee Williams,
    had it down in A Streetcar Named Desire - with Elysian
    Fields and cemeteries and the quest for paradise.

    When you live so close to death, behind the levees,
    you live more intensely, sexually, gastronomically, psychologically. Louis
    Armstrong came out of that unbelievable cultural breakthrough unprecedented
    in the history of American civilization. The rural blues, the urban jazz. It
    is the tragi-comic lyricism that gives you the courage to get through the
    darkest storm.

    Charlie Parker would have killed somebody if he had
    not blown his horn. The history of black people in
    America is one of unbelievable resilience in the face
    of crushing white supremacist powers.

    This kind of dignity in your struggle cuts both ways,
    though, because it does not mobilize a collective
    uprising against the elites. That was the Black
    Panther movement. You probably need both. There would
    have been no Panthers without jazz.* If I had been of
    Martin Luther King's generation I would never have
    gone to Harvard or Princeton.

    They shot brother Martin dead like a dog in 1968 when
    the mobilization of the black poor was just getting
    started. At least one of his surviving legacies was
    the quadrupling in the size of the black middle class.
    But Oprah [Winfrey] the billionaire and the black
    judges and chief executives and movie stars do not
    mean equality, or even equality of opportunity yet.
    Black faces in high places does not mean racism is
    over. Condoleezza Rice has sold her soul.

    Now the black bourgeoisie have an even heavier
    obligation to fight for the 33 per cent of black
    children living in poverty - and to alleviate the
    spiritual crisis of hopelessness among young black
    men.

    Bush talks about God, but he has forgotten the point
    of prophetic Christianity is compassion and justice
    for those who have least. Hip-hop has the anger that
    comes out of post-industrial, free-market America, but
    it lacks the progressiveness that produces
    organisations that will threaten the status quo. There
    has not been a giant since King, someone prepared to
    die and create an insurgency where many are prepared
    to die to upset the corporate elite. The Democrats are spineless.

    There is the danger of nihilism and in the Superdome
    around the fourth day, there it was - husbands held at
    gunpoint while their wives were raped, someone stomped
    to death, people throwing themselves off the mezzanine
    floor, dozens of bodies.

    It was a war of all against all - 'you're on your own'
    - in the centre of the American empire. But now that
    the aid is pouring in, vital as it is, do not confuse
    charity with justice. I'm not asking for a revolution,
    I am asking for reform. A Marshall Plan for the South
    could be the first step.

    Dr Cornel West is professor of African American
    studies and religion at Princeton University. His
    great grandfather was a slave. He is a rap artist and
    appeared as Counselor West in Matrix Reloaded and
    Matrix Revolution
     
  2. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    that's heavy ...........great article deepy
     
  3. Nita

    Nita Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks

    A wonderful article. The Brother always speaks the truth everytime I read or see him on television. You guys keep him in your prayers because he is fighting cancer the last I heard.
    Very nice indeed!
     
  4. Nita

    Nita Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    WoW!

    Wow...I didn't know this. I'll have to check it out.
     
  5. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I agree, too, with most of what brother Cornel dropped in this essay - except where he says, "...In the end George Bush has to take responsibility." I don't believe that even IF Bush had to accept responsibility - which I don't believe he does - it would make very much of a difference... It would only mean that we Africans in America could prolong the obvious, which is that we must build our own... I will never leave an questions or open-ends as to that belief...

    We must have our own infrastructure, if not our very own nation... We must live independently of all others if we are not to have repeat perfomances of what we saw over this past month...

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  6. info-moetry

    info-moetry STAFF STAFF

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    :bullseye:
     
  7. Therious

    Therious Banned MEMBER

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    thats real!
     
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