Beneath the charges of incompetence
lies the fact that America always hated us. Before Katrina, black children in the Ninth Ward were malnourished and older people died lonely deaths. It took a deluge to wash away the lie of this country’s benevolent democracy.
Now we have to deal with the truth. The initial response by people of conscience was silence. Not the absence of words, but the frantic quietude of habit. Protesters shouted and were arrested, emergency meeting minutes were duly noted and the root causes were, of course, explored.
A jewel of a city is submerged and its people displaced. The raw racism of the state was revealed and the weight of it is real. We must ask: Who will take the weight? We must answer: What happens now depends solely on us. After the silence comes the scream.
Every bus and boat liberated to transport vicitims, every piece of food shared and benefit organized is a new humanity in bloom. History teaches us that liberation begins when we accept our own dignity. The last time black folks waded troubled waters was when Bull Connor turned fire hoses on children. And they danced. A nation, lulled to sleep by calm waters, bore witness and awoke.
Survival is not life. Political bickering and pained rhetoric must be replaced with visions of a future in plain sight. The aid networks begun by Katrina should be expanded to build daycare centers, collective kitchens, libraries, clinics, gardens and housing. We must have the courage to dream against the nightmare.
The trouble waters face us. We must step in and wade.