Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Weird Post I Apologize For

In my office, I have a wall devoted to photos I took and posters I collected, from a visit to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, five years ago. The wall tells a story of poverty, hope, bravery, fear, industrial apathy and propganda from all sides. That trip I took is in my soul.

A colleague visited on my office on this day of images from New Orleans. The photos feature Africans. My colleague apologized before saying what he said. He said, "What I saw on CNN today, from the Superdome, looks like a scene from one of these oil producing African countries that you have all over your wall."

Just turned on CNN.

My friend was right. I caught a little photo montage on a Larry King commercial break and I felt, looking at those photos, what I felt in Nigeria. But the Larry King photo montage is probably a lie. There wasn't one white face in it. I can't believe, given all of the poor caucasions that exist, that the situation isn't a little more mixed. Yes, I accept that in the US and especially the south, that African Americans would predominate. But, I fear that in selecting photos only of African Americans, that there's a bit of "the other" at work in our culture. "They," aren't like everyone else. "They," don't get the same compassion as us. "They," are like starving Ethiopians."

I know, I know, I sound like a college sophomore who just declared an ethnic studies major. Forget that. What I see, flipping channels, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, CNN, CNBC, is... an ancient, irrational, and idiotic attempt to separate the people suffering now from the majority population.

I don't think it's an active conspiracy, by the way. I think it's old images, old ideas, being expressed now by people who wish the best. But, it's still there. It really is there. Turn on a news channel and tell me that it's not. If you can tell me that, then that's great news. If you provide evidence that this post is complete BS, then you'll have given me a lot of cheer.

P.S. I guess I'm a bit worked up about New Orleans, given my posts today. On some level, it really is about the great times I've had there. I had two visits. Both are still with me. The place got to me. I never lived there. But it is important to me. It is also, at this moment, a locus of national politics. Our government blew it here. But, that government was run by people who have always told us that government would always blow it. Our government is run by people who hate government. I truly believe that the tragedy of New Orleans is the result of the philosophy that government is a bad thing, perhaps even evil. The city was once, for me, a symbol of my libertine youth. It's now a symbol of the horrible implications of a political philosophy. That might sound abstract to you. But to me, it sounds reality with terror.

1 Comments:

At 9:41 AM , Blogger adriana said...

I just thank you for writing this.

 

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