Entries from August 2006 ↓

Katrina Stories

A year after Hurricane Katrina swept across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, leaving devastation in its wake, most notably flooding to 80% of the city of New Orleans, only about fifty percent of the displaced and widely scattered residents of that great city have returned and much remains to be done to rebuild the entire Gulf Coast.

Through a sampling of news reports, here is a snapshot of where things stand:

As could be expected, the psychological toll on victims of the worst natural disaster in the nations history has been extensive. A survey of affected residents finds a drop in suicide rates, however the long-term impact may be considerable.
Post-Katrina Suicide and Mental Health Study

President Bush and his entire administration have rightfully been criticized for their slow response to the disaster and the inept way that FEMA in particular has handled the situation. A year later finds the president taking another photo-op through the region. In an election year, opposing Democratic politicians are also stopping by.
Politicians Make an Anniversary Driveby

The issue of how New Orleans will rebuild and who will ultimately live there is a particularly thorny one. Black residents are suspicious of what they believe to be a land grab by White real estate developers hopeful of redesigning for their own interests districts that were previously inhabited by mostly poor Black people. Plans to bulldoze public housing projects without a clear strategy to resettle displaced tenants is being met with opposition.
NAACP Opposes Demolition of Public Housing Projects

Everybody is trying to make a buck off this disaster somehow.
Katrina Commemorative T-shirts for sale

Some are taking full advantage of other peoples misery.
Rebuilding and Ripoff for Mississippi Katrina Family

New Orleans has always been synonymous with music. When Katrina hit, many of the citys top performers, some of them nationally-known figures, were forced to flee to safety, the same as everyone else. Many of them also lost everything they owned. But an effort is underway, spearheaded by their fellow musicians, to provide them with new homes and a new neighborhood.
Musicians Village welcomes displaced artists

Robin Roberts, anchor of ABCs Good Morning America, is a native of Pass Christian, Mississippi, one of the areas hard hit by the hurricane. For her this has been more than just a news story.
Pass Christian, Miss., Home of GMA Anchor Robin Roberts

Gambling has managed to bring people back to other parts of Mississippi. Casinos, that provide the foundation to an otherwise struggling economy, have reopened and with that, brought a measure of hope.
Casinos bring tourists, jobs back to Gulf Coast

Hurricane Katrina did more than flood a region and destroy property. It exposed some of the ugliest secrets about the priorities of this administration and issues of race, class and economic inequity that are endemic to this country. So what have we learned in the past year?
When Government Shrugs

Pop Quiz

I used to do these fairly frequently in the early years of this blog, but I see it has been almost two years since the last one.

You know the drill. Answer all questions. Show all work. No cheating off your neighbors. Did you bring a Number 2 penciL? Well, you wont need it, this is on a computer screen, stupid.

Get at it.

1. So, how have you spent your summer vacation?

2. What three things do you most want to accomplish before the end of the year?

3. This is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A year from now, how far along do you think the Gulf Coast will be towards recovery?

4. In the movie of your life, who gets cast to play you (and you cant play yourself)?

5. Is your overall health and fitness better or worse than it was a year ago?

6. Are your personal finances better or worse than they were a year ago?

7. Hows your love life?

8. Seen any good movies lately? Seen any bad ones? Are you looking forward to any upcoming ones in particular?

9. Will the Republicans lose control of Congress this November or will the Democrats find a way to fumble a clear opportunity?

10. Schools across the country will open up in the next few days and weeks. What was your favorite grade and what teacher had the most positive impact on you?

I did…

…but I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Your Learning Style: Flexible and Adaptable

You are a great hands on learner, and you have an excellent memory.

You Should Study:

Creative Writing
Foreign Languages and Literature

What Should You Study?

I Am Gay

It is visible from several blocks away. Prominently displayed on the side of a wall overlooking the intersection of 125th Street and Broadway, a major crossroad in the heart of Harlem, it can be seen by passersby on foot, by car and even the elevated subway trains that run right past it. It is all by design.

A billboard was unveiled to the public Tuesday, proclaiming for all to see that which is already known by most but forgotten or ignored by others; Black gays are a part of the Black community, and always have been.

As the kickoff to a public awareness campaign sponsored by the New York State Black Gay Network (NYSBGN) and funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, it is part of a larger effort to help the entire community understand that Black gay lives matter, and by doing so, begin to address homophobia, one of the primary underlying reasons why some Black men who practice same sex desire put themselves at risk for HIV.

At a morning press conference attended by federal, state and city lawmakers–including Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel–Mark McLaurin, NYSBGN Executive Director said, Its not a matter of acceptance from the community of some foreign presence, it is about acknowledgement, love and respect from our own for us. If we want to stop the spread of HIV, Black gay men need to know that their lives matter in the very communities in which they live.

The NYSBGN hopes to open a dialogue between Black gays and straights in order to build bridges not just to address HIV/AIDS, but to counteract overtures being made by White, Right-Wing Conservative Christian elements who have spread money around particularly within the Black religious community in an effort to forge alliances that further their own anti-gay efforts. Such divisive actions, by outsiders, ignore the long-standing role that Black gays and lesbians have always played in Black mainstream communities and only serve to promote a conservative agenda. This campaign is being rolled out in subway stations in Black communities like Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens where most Black gay men live.

Also on hand for Tuesdays press conference were State Assemblyman Daniel ODonnell, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Council members Robert Jackson and Melissa Mark-Viverito, Gary English and Michael Roberson from People of Color in Crisis (POCC), Marjorie Hill from Gay Mens Health Crisis (GMHC), Sorya Elcock of Harlem United, and Tokes Osubu of Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD).

More photos can be found here. (Photos may not be reused or reprinted without permission.)

As I Was Saying

Man, it is absolute agony to not be able to log on when you want to. I couldnt check email (and I get tons of it daily), I couldnt blog or read blogs, or clear out all the spam that hits all of my various accounts. I stopped into a neighborhood Internet caf a couple of times, as well as the new Apple Store on 5th Avenue, while I waited for my own DSL to get switched on, but that got old real fast. Especially having to pay by the hour.

Some Atlanta-based wiseguy had comments to make about my previous free wireless arrangement. Ill have more to say in a future blog about the need for cities to embrace free public wireless systems as a way of bridging the growing digital divide versus forcing everyone to pay already rich, monopolistic cable or phone companies for some supposed privilege of getting online. But let it suffice to say, I have acquiesced.

Being offline, I missed an opportunity to preview the very excellent Spike Lee documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts about Hurricane Katrina and its impact and aftermath. It is a sad and infuriating tale of government neglect and indifference, that unfortunately still hasnt been resolved. If you missed any of the two-part, four hour debut this week, it will be repeated on August 29th, the one year anniversary of Katrina.

I havent given a gratuitous plug to one of my favorite performers in a long time, Billy Porter, so Ill rectify that now. I was tipped to an online interview he did recently. Im not sure who the interviewer is or the context, but you can give a listen here.

My New York Mets are playing absolutely phenomenal baseball right now and are now 25 games from clinching the NL East Division title. Last Saturday night, they honored the 1986 World Series Champion team with a 20 year reunion at Shea, then went on defeat the Colorado Rockies as part of a three game sweep. Tonight, mi papi Carlos Delgado, hit two home runs including his career 400th, a grand slam, as the Amazins beat the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, 8-7 on a walk-off two run homer from the other Carlos, Carlos Beltran, in the bottom of the 9th. Ill be devoting more space to the baseball pennant races as the season winds down and the playoffs heat up in September.