Prominent Black People are doing more harm than good regarding Hurricane Katrina.

I’ve been watching a lot of news coverage regarding the events and the pathetic response by Bush and the cronies he appointed at the top of FEMA. Every few moments you keep seeing someone like Jesse Jackson, Kanye West or another famous (and in most cases respected) black person basically screaming that the screw ups here are all about race.

Personally I think this is bullshit. While I agree that there is a racial component to this, and that the media has be guilty of making offhanded, subtly racist things, I don’t believe that race played a role in how poorly the disaster was handled.

What did play a role is the fact that these people are poor.

Many people in the south were utterly and totally screwed over. In New Orleans the vast majority of those faces are black. However, there’s a huge number of helpless and ignored people in Mississippi and the outlying portions of New Orleans that are white. There were many hundreds of thousands of poor white people displaced and ignored as well.

The fact that New Orleans is the famous place and that it is where the media is has been mostly reporting from is what makes it look like black people were the one’s left on their own. There was nothing racist in the poor planning and effectiviness of the reaction.

By constantly screaming that Bush hates blacks, and that if these had been white people they’d have sent food, they are basically losing credibility and alienating many of the people who would be on their side.

This should be an indictment on Bush’s policies against the poor and in favor of the rish and connected. By making it about race, you’re giving him an easy political out. By making this about race they are diverting attention from the fact that unqualified people were appointed at the top of FEMA and Homeland security. They are diverting attention away from the fact that too much of our National Guard is in Iraq and Afganistan. By screaming about race they are diverting attention from the fact that the right marginalizes the poor and disenfranchised.

Everyone needs to make this about what it is, stupidity, incompetence, cronyism, and elitism. It’s not about race. It’s not to say that race hasn’t been a factor, and that the media hasn’t done some stupid things, but its probably about 12th on the list of things to be pissed about.

I agree 100% with you. Unfortunately, many of the poor people in NO were black, so that gives J. Jackson, A. Sharpton and their ilk a way to get their faces on your TV screen and in your newspaper.

Could someone please let Condi Rice know that Bush hates her?

But Condi’s rich.

You can’t blame some folks for believing that race was a factor when stuff like this happens:

I heard a black man made that happen. Someone named Nagin I believe.


Oh, for God’s sake. You honestly think there’s a debate here? You’ve made some logical premise here?

First you say

So you’ve listed two of the twelve million African Americans in this country. Care to make it four? Fifty?

Then you say

How do you reconcile the first and second sentence here?

If it isn’t about race and race has nothing to do with this… why do you not see the opinions of Jackson and West as being opinions of those individual people? What’s the harm if several prominent people feel that racism is a huge piece of why this has been so horribly handled?

How about the prominent White people who are doing the same… uh, let’s see… Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper, and several others noted here and here? Where’s your thread stating that “Prominent White People are doing more harm than good regarding Hurricane Katrina?”

If you think it’s 12th on the list of issues to discuss, please distribute your memo of when it is acceptable for Black people to discuss the 12th point. These people are American citizens with a right to free speech, but you’d like them to wait until you deem it’s appropriate to move on the role of racism in the response to the disaster? Think about that.

Also, what the hell does this mean?

Please explain this.

Funny how in your effort to condemn those who make it about race, you prove their point exactly.

Who constitutes “their ilk?” What are you really trying to say here?

Hippy Hollow:

To be fair, Omniscient qualified his opinion by saying “prominent” black people, not black people in general, are doing more harm than good with their comments.

I don’t think West and Jackson’s comments do much good, either. It allows those with power (and their supporters) an easy rhetorical “out” by directing the debate to something that’s easily marginalized (i.e. picture your average “Republican Rick” saying “Whew. There goes Kanye West and Jesse Jackson playing the race card again. Thank God we don’t have to talk about the bureaucratic bungling in Katrina’s aftermath, or slashing funding to the Army Corps of Engineers, or the stretching the National Guard’s capabilities to the limit because of the war, etc.”).

Personally, I think West’s and Jackson’s comments are extremely self-serving, but considering who said them, not surprising.

As an aside, I think a similar dynamic occurred in the 2004 election, when so many liberals marginalized their message by spending so much time and effort attacking Bush’s ideology and trustworthiness (debatable subjects) when they should have just concentrated on his basic incompetence (which seems obvious).

We do the exact same thing in regards to religion. There are thousands of good pastors in this country.
Still, every time something involving religion comes up, the media runs to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or James Dobson. They hardly speak for most Christians, yet they are always on tv.

Condi has as much in common with the black urban poor as does OJ Simpson.

Certainly economic class had much to do with who died. No car means evacuation orders don’t mean much. To some extent class is determined by race so indirectly race has a factor. Hard to tell whether it was race of class that made the guardsmen put the well to do hotel strandees ahead of those that were stranded in the convention center.

I saw the black congressmen yesterday with Jesse JAckson on the news. It didn’t seem like they were calling people racists or saying that racist acts had taken place. It just seemed like they were saying, “Please treat these victims fairly and don’t be biased against them just because they are poor, elderly, and black.”

They also said, “We’ll be watching”, ensuring caring individuals that if some shit DOES goes down, then it won’t be brushed aside.

How can we know that race does not matter? People have no problem believing that classism is at play here, but for some reason have a harder time swallowing the racism angle. Why is that? Throughout the history of this country, the two have been intertwined. And there isn’t a person who’s been watching the TV who HASN’T noticed that most of NO residents are black and poor and uneducated. Most Americans do NOT belong to this demographic, so the “them” versus “us” factor is definitely at play here.

Most of us know a racist or two. I know we do. I’ve met a couple in my life, and they weren’t all Southerners either. I’d argue that racism is in all of us, including members of oppressed minority groups. I know for me personally, self-hatred has come to the surface as I’ve watched footage and listened to some of the reports. So I don’t have a hard time believing AT ALL that race is going to affect our response to this disaster. Hell, I think it already has.

I appreciate the press conference yesterday. I think it might make some people evaluate their thought processes and make them more compassionate.

Prominent white politicians currently occupying 1600 Pennsylavania Avenue are doing more harm than good regarding Hurricane Katrina than any criticism by blacks.

I cannot persuade myself that if New Orleans was like one of the white, conservative upstate parishes – full of working class/ poor whites that voted for Bush – that we’d have this slow response, this demonizing of the victims, this amount of salacious unsubstantiated reports of rape, murder and cannibalism. Even if it is happening, I seriously doubt its as widespread as its been implied in reporting. News reports do not have a tone of sympathy, but rather a revulsion of the victimized people’s actions. That’s telling of underlying bigotries with regrd to race, class and politics and that’s wrong.

I cannot believe that Bush has not made any direct appeals/assurances to the people of New Orleans via 1) live, remote military public address systems 2) letter drops or 3) taped radio broadcasts letting them know what’s happening in the days ahead and that the country is with them. People need assurances to be calmed from panic.

Here’s the problem:

All pastors, all White. Would anybody ever start a thread stating that “Prominent White pastors are doing more harm than good…?”

dalej42, I’ve never heard a sane individual suggest that these three White men are thwarting progress for Whites in America.

Hippy Hollow nailed it, IMHO. We can argue about whether or not race is a significant issue in the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina and the media coverage of it. But there is no valid reason to single out “prominent black people” among the various prominent people who are choosing to bring up the issue of race in this context.

AFAICT, one of the most widely-circulated and thoughtful discussions of the issue is columnist Jack Shafer’s 31 August article “Lost in the Flood” (also linked above by HH). Shafer is white.

It makes no sense to criticize Jesse Jackson or Kanye West for “playing the race card” and not criticize white people like Shafer who are saying many of the same things.

Unless, that is, we’re assuming that all white commentators who make allegations or suggestions of racism are being sincere, open-minded social critics, while all black commentators who do are just opportunistically “playing the race card”. And I think there’s a word for that kind of assumption…

Her new name is “Imelda”.

This thread is akin to all those threads that said “Democrats should stop talking about all this liberal shit and they’d do a lot better.” Black people don’t have some kind of universal cause they are planning and working to advance. Nor do you have the right to play armchair quarterback on how well you think “they” are doing it. It’s condescending and offensive to assume that black people are or ought to present this unified public face to white America in the hopes that maybe we will like them.

That’s because they’re squeaky wheels. (‘Squeaky’ is a euphemism for a lot of things here, insert your own fun adjectives.) The media loves to celebrate its own and get ‘names’ when possible. Those people all but BEG for the media to go to them when issues involving their areas are in the news.

Covering the real issue of class differences with race issues is a handy way of keeping your people’s rage mis-directed. “It’s not the man keeping you down, it’s those aweful niggers.”

N.O. is just another nail in the coffin.

Well, first and foremost, race is going to be an issue simply by virtue of the location. Not only does the south contain some of the most blatantly racist white people, it also contains some of the most blatantly rascist black people as well. New Orleans has had and has a stratified society since long before it was ever a part of the US. Whites lorded it over mullatoes, mullatoes lorded it over blacks, etc etc etc. I would be far more suprised if race wasnt an issue.

Yet when it comes to race being a factor in the response, I would say yes but racism would play a decreasing role the higher up the govt chain you go. Race probably played a huge role in how the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana dealt with the situation. And, largely because of the imcompentance of the those two, the fed response ~looks~ racist, though I didnt see feds moving into Mississippi any faster than New Orleans. Unless of course one wants to claim that Cajuns are a different race and the feds dont like them either.

What I think the whole cluster fuck highlights is what happens when a crony-style govt is in charge (i.e New Orleans) and a major emergency happens that requires a real govt rather than a pretend one (FEMA must not have spread the brown bags in the back room enough for N.O officials to consider it a priority).

In my opinion, the big failure of FEMA was not to have plans in place for when a state and city completely and totally does nothing for its citizens, so there is no local infrastructure to plug into. We are all aware that that is how FEMA works, right? As a supplement to state and local govts who theoretically already have disaster infrastructure in place? We do all understand that states and cities cant just sit back and do nothing and expect the feds to do shit for them, right?