"Why are all the faces I keep seeing on the news, in the papers, black?"
That's what a friend of mine asked herself and several of us listening. Why are the majority of the people left in New Orleans, why are those who have had to suffer an existence of no living creature should know, why are all the people we've seen pictures of black?
The answer is sadly simple stastics: in New Orleans, the majority of the poor, those without the resources to have fled before the storm hit, are black. Two-thirds of the city is African-American and more than 40% of the city lives in poverty.
I've been wondering the same thing. Hearing the stories on the radio, I was horrified- of course. But somehow my horror was compounded when I saw picture after picture and saw not one white face among those wading in the flood waters, those looting for food and water, for survival. Those finding themselves resorting to violence in the face of this disaster.
John mentioned this briefly in his sermon this morning. How those who suffered most were the least and the lowly. He wondered aloud as I have been wondering within - what would have happened if we had done something before. If all the generosity we've shown, all the love we as a people have let flow out of us, what if all the good we have done, can do, had been done before? Why is it in crisis we can join together so well, but in daily living we allow ourselves to be separated?
With this on my mind, I thumbed through an old book of mine, Of War and Love by Dorothee Solle. I came across this poem, and some particular parts struck a chord in me. Challenged, convicted me.
to execute--to dispose of--to get out of the way--
to put in solitary--to leave an electric light on day
to sentence for life--to order special treatment
to do away with--to destroy--to liquidate--
to wipe out--to purge--to expel--
to straighten out--to streamline--to urban renew--to
to threaten eviction--to do someone in
to provide no place to live--to keep from learning a
to put in an institution--to kick out of a resort--
to be offended in our esthetic sensibilities--
to be unable to bear the sight of--
to not want our neighborhood ruined--to gas
to send to a state welfare home--to turn into a criminal
to encourage dependency--to addict
to foster neurosis--to intimidate--
to stupefy--to pull the rug from under--
to cow--to brutalize
to forget--to conceal--to not want to make a fuss
to repress--to not have known about it--
to consider it an isolated case--
to call it inevitable--to let it happen
to bump off--to silence for good--
to bind and gag--
to deprive of language--
to make deaf and dumb--to plug the ears--
to put off with false hopes--to blindfold--to gouge out
to turn into consumers--
to blind--to stifle
to prepare the final solution--
to make conform to the values of society--
to adjust--to execute--