Archive for the 'economic justice' Category

This Friday in Brooklyn: premiere of a new film on gentrification and community organizing

This Friday I’m heading to Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn for the premiere screening of Some Place Like Home: The Fight Against Gentrification in Downtown Brooklyn, a documentary by Families United for Racial and Economic Equality. FUREE, a community organization lead by and comprised primarily of low-income women of color, has been rallying the community in a fight against the rampant development that’s going down in Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding area. While developers, big business, and politicians alike claim they are only trying to improve the community, the development is being conducted with little care or concern for the residents and small business owners who are already there. Some Place Like Home documents the struggle of FUREE, the neighborhoods’ residents, and small businesses against the forces that are trying to push and bulldoze them out. Check out the trailer below.

If you’re in NYC, I recommend you check out the premiere if you can. It’s a fundraiser for the organization and the ticket prices will go far to support FUREE’s organizing around this and other important issues. Other FUREE projects include the Child Care Campaign, which works for better working conditions for child care providers, and their collaboration on the Fort Greene CSA, a community supported agriculture product that aims to provide affordable access to healthy, locally grown food (the CSA offers subsidized shares and accepts food stamps as payment.) And if you can’t make it to the premiere, try to catch the film otherwise – I’ve heard that FUREE is getting requests for additional screenings and may even air the film on some of the local TV stations. You can also donate to FUREE or to other organizations working to fight gentrification where you live.

Bailout FAIL. Working Americans PWNED.

It seems as though Congress and the Bush administration are nearing approval of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package. It was clear from the get go that low- and middle-income people were not going to be the winners here, no matter the specifics of the package; some details that are coming out now about the current state of the deal are only confirming that prediction. From the Washington Post:

Democrats also made a number of concessions, abandoning demands that bankruptcy judges be empowered to modify home mortgages on primary residences for people in foreclosure. They also agreed not to dedicate a portion of any profits from the bailout program to an affordable housing fund that Republicans claimed would primarily assist social service organizations that support the Democratic Party, the official said.

The New York Times does report that the package “requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make more aggressive efforts to prevent home foreclosures,” but reaffirms that “some Democrats had sought to direct 20 percent of any such profits [from the governmental purchase of assets at prices lower than they may one day be worth] to help create affordable housing, but Republicans opposed that and demanded that all profits be returned to the Treasury.”

I don’t claim to be any expert on economics, but it seems to me that the benefit to normal working Americans (i.e. “Main Street”) will be quite limited. The whole rigmarole about taxpayers (hopefully) being repayed for the bailout through the government receiving equity stakes in rescued companies is cold comfort given that we can’t trust or expect the government to spend that recovered money on things that actually help improve the lives of low- and middle-income Americans, like education, health care, affordable housing, or welfare.

Well, I should be clear – corporate welfare is a-ok, as this entire bailout package demonstrates. But welfare for individuals and families who are just trying to survive? Nah, that kind of welfare doesn’t fly, nor does the affordable housing that might help rescue them from this collapsing housing market. So Wall Street screws working-class Americans with the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, which then backfires and contributes to Wall Street getting screwed, and then Wall Street are the only ones who can really count on being bailed out? Sounds like a big ol’ FAIL to me.

Cross-posted at Feministe

Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls: working session at the CGI

Panelists at the CGI Global Health working sessionYesterday I watched the live video feed of a Global Health working session at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. (The press can’t attend the actual working sessions, so we had to sit and watch from the press room.) A bit of background – at the CGI Annual Meetings, government, corporate, and NGO leaders get together to discuss major world issues and figure out ways to tackle them. Each day they break out into working sessions, each one devoted to one of this year’s four focus areas: Poverty Alleviation, Energy and Climate Change, Education, and Global Health. This particular Global Health working session was entitled “Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls,” which immediately jumped out at me as a topic of great interest, both personally and for folks at Feministe.

Continue reading ‘Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls: working session at the CGI’

Blacks, Latinos, and the precariousness of “middle class”

Today I listened to a segment on Democracy Now! about a new report that’s out from Demos and Brandeis University on the state of the Black and Latino middle class in the United States. The study, entitled “Economic (In)Security: The Experience of the African American and Latino Middle Classes,” finds that three-out-of-four Black and four-out-of-five Latino middle-class families are economically insecure and at high risk of slipping out of the middle class. From the report, which can be downloaded as a PDF from the Demos website:

African-American and Latino families have more difficulty moving into the middle class, and families that do enter the middle class are less secure and at higher risk than the middle class as a whole. Overall, more African-American and Latino middle-class families are at risk of falling out of the middle class than are secure. This is in sharp contrast to the overall middle class, in which 31 percent are secure and 21 percent are at risk. Specifically:

  • Only 26 percent of African-American middle-class families have the combination of as- sets, education, sufficient income, and health insurance to ensure middle-class financial security. One in three (33 percent) is at high risk of falling out of the middle class.
  • Less than one in five Latino families (18 percent) is securely in the middle class. More than twice as many (41 percent) of Latino families are in danger of slipping out of the middle class.
  • African-American middle-class families are less secure and at greater risk than the middle class as a whole on four of the five indicators of security and vulnerability [named by the report as assets, education, housing, budget, and healthcare]. Latino middle-class families are less secure and at greater risk on all five indicators.

Jennifer Wheary, a senior fellow at Demos and one of the co-authors of the report, elaborated on Democracy Now!:

And what we found was when we compared the situation of white middle-class families to African Americans and Latinos, there were vast differences. You know, and what was astounding to us was really looking at—these are, you know, African American and Latino families that, by all sense and purposes, have achieved the American dream, people who, you know, have two earners, two professional earners in the household, you know, maybe are trying to own a home or do own a home, you know, very—have achieved all the aspirations that we typically go for. But even among those people, when you look at, you know, where they’re weak economically, we found that about two-in-five Latino middle-class families are in danger of falling out of the middle class. They’re so financially vulnerable, don’t have assets. Maybe somebody in the household is uninsured. And one-in-three African American middle-class families are also in danger, so vulnerable, so weak, that they’re in danger of falling out of the middle class.

I haven’t read the report yet, but when I do, I fully expect to cry. In fact, as I listened to the segment on the bus home today, I actually found myself tearing up; not only because the larger injustices behind what I was hearing, but because it hit a very personal chord.

Continue reading ‘Blacks, Latinos, and the precariousness of “middle class”’

The Story of Stuff

Cross-posted at Feministe

Every morning I seem to find some distraction on the Internet that leads to me running out the door far later than I should have left or starting my work day woefully off schedule. Usually the distraction is something like Scramble on Facebook, but this morning’s distraction was enriching and enlightening enough that I don’t feel so bad about running late (and running even later in order to share it with you folks.) A friend of mine (thanks, Eli!) linked to The Story of Stuff, a short documentary on the insidious processes that go into consumption as we know it. The video has been online since December 2007 and has apparently had 2 million viewers so I risk recommending it to a bunch of folks who’ve already seen it, but I hadn’t and I thought it important to share.

Annie Leonard, a scholar who has done many years of research on consumerism, development, sustainability, and environmental health, guides us through the linear process that drives the material economy – extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal – exposing the many moments in the process that are often left out of the big picture but which are often most telling of the damage occurs within each of these steps. I’ve seen and read many things about consumption and its effects on our world, but this movie broke things down in a clearer, more complete and more urgent way than I’ve seen before. Leonard does a good job of bringing to light the environmental, health, labor, globalization and other social justice problems inherent to the system of consumption.

Some of the facts that Leonard cites are truly frightening. One fact that I’d never heard before and found particularly shocking: when talking about the countless toxic chemicals used in production and therefore brought into our homes and our bodies, Leonard says:

Do you know what is the food at the top of the food chain with the highest levels of many toxic contaminants? Human breast milk. That means that we’ve reached a point where the smallest members of our societies – our babies – are getting the highest lifetime dose of toxic chemicals from breast feeding from their mothers. Is that not an incredible violation?

I appreciated that Leonard called this a “violation,” because that’s precisely what it is. We have allowed corporations and complicit governments to violate our very bodies, as well as our environment and countless cultures and communities, simply in order to give us cheaper, more consumable products.* Leonard thankfully goes on to stress that “breast feeding is still best,” but as someone who plans to probably give birth and subsequently breast feed, that fact about the toxicity of breast milk is frightening and enraging. It really does feel like a violation – corporations and the government have allowed this shit to get into me.

Of course, there’s a large degree of agency here – we, primarily meaning Americans and other westerners, have a tremendous responsibility to reject the system of capitalism and consumption that got us into this mess. We need to wake up to the realities of what cheap, easy, and disposable all really mean in the long run – as Leonard says, someone, or more accurately many someones, are paying the real price for all of that cheap crap that many of us in the U.S. can buy easily thanks to our huge privilege relative to the rest of the world. Sometimes the people paying the price are far away and look nothing like (some of) us, but sometimes, as with toxic breast milk, we’re also paying directly and dearly. And whether we pay or someone else pays the immediate and direct costs, when it comes to the destruction of the earth, we’re all most definitely going to pay up sooner rather than later. And therefore we who live in the countries that use and abuse and benefit from the system of consumption the most have an urgent responsibility to do something about it.

Unfortunately, that responsibility and our agency to act on it are both so limited by our lack of information. The true costs of American-style production and consumption were never covered in my schooling, nor are they something that make it into the mainstream media with any depth or sufficiency. It’s easy to go through life just not knowing or even questioning how our actions and our consumption are part of a much larger system with far-reaching effects, and the profiteering corporations are more than happy to keep it that way. In such a dearth of information and truth, resources like this movie are vital and can go a long way towards providing the knowledge people need in order to understand what this culture of consumption is doing to them as individuals, to their communities, to other people, and to the environment.

Of course, it’s hard to figure out what the hell to do after looking at a video like that. I appreciate that the Story of Stuff site provides “10 Little and Big Things You Can Do”, along with a resources page that includes recommended reading and links to NGOs working on these issues.

* Note that for the most part this doesn’t mean “better” products in terms of durability and sustainability; Leonard also states that only 1% of consumer products are still actually in use just six months from the date of purchase, which boggles the mind.

“We do this because to do nothing leaves others with no options.”

I might not be writing much lately, but other people are. One such person is Valery J, who I work with at one of the organizations I do tech support for. Recently she sent the staff an email entitled “Val’s Reason #2018 for Being Committed to Racial & Economic Justice.” I really appreciated her reflections on gentrification, social justice, and why “the work” is so important. I asked her if I could post it here, and she agreed; she’s also got it posted on her MySpace blog. Enjoy!

On Friday, I attended the first SJL Art of Organizing Session for the year out in Harlem, NY. My partner and I had to bring our daughter to the Bronx to her “Ti-Ti Ta-Ta” (Aunt Liz) for the day.

The session was over and we went to go the baby from the BX and we decided to take a nostalgic walk in the area that evening. It was crazy to see how many buildings that went up that had nothing but gentrifiers going home (it was after rush hour), how bars and restaurants suddenly became “diverse” with ads to rock bands and not salsa or bomba y plena ensembles headlining a weekend event, how many trees were planted in areas that historically had no green space and high asthma rates…the list can go on forever. We took a long walk. The South Bronx looks like Bed-Stuy in its earliest gentrifications stages.

Dave and I are ALWAYS “politicking” and we wondered well, if everything is being “glamorized” for the new folks in town, what’s going on with others who are being pushed out in the name of community development? Where the hell are poor folks are relocating to? We know that shelters are overcrowded and waiting lists for low-income housing are ridiculously long. The economy can only get worse as the Bush and Cheney war continues indefinitely, and New York City Council Members spend millions on phantom organizations while cuts to low income housing, social services, drug treatment, etc. are slashed over and over and over.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I always talk about the psychological effect of racism, poverty, displacement and oppression. We forget that in the midst of organizing for change that the crucible of our arguments shouldn’t always rely on policies or practices but also on the human condition, how everyday people are affected by all of this stuff. It’s easy to point to empty apartments or lack or jobs but not so easy to point to what’s really going on with people who are left out to hang by all of this. It’s not so easy to speak on the effects of disempowerment, disenfranchisement and destabilization on people because they’re not quantifiable.

So, Dave, Aliyah and I got on the 2 train at 149th and 3rd. We took the baby out to play and for a feeding. We were rolling into 125th Street when the emergency brakes went on. We sighed and figured some prankster opened the damn panel. (I’m so old school.) We were in the first car and realized a homeless man being pinned down to the ground by an elder Latino man. The homeless man was about to jump on the tracks when the elder sprang into action. A life was saved because someone cared, did something about it and didn’t think twice to look within.

On the way home, we went on about how sad it is that the land of milk and honey (sarcastic reference to what the US “markets” to the world) has enough resources to waste among the “haves” but doesn’t give a damn about the “have nots.”

I remember feeling a deep sadness because my heart went out to the man that felt that in his imprisonment between a rock and a hard place, that his only option was to end his life. Because things were too much and this was what was left to end the hurt.

What I also remembered is why we all engage in the fight for social justice. Because, like the elder, we spring into action, we care and we do something. Even if that action is hard, causes us to sacrifice, causes inconvenience and causes pain, it’s this act of self-less-ness that offers at least some hope to those who are between a rock and a hard place.

This work isn’t easy. And yes, we have to respond to things as they show up. Our shoulders may feel heavy and our minds run a mile a minute. We argue and bicker and gripe to relieve stress, eat mounds of mac-n-cheese for comfort and lay our heads down to rest with left-over thoughts on what the hell to do next.

I guess I just wanted folks to realize that our work is greater than the burdens that we endure. That we do this not to be rich, not to be celebrated, not to be respected at times.

We do this because to do nothing leaves others with no options.

Thank you, all, for being committed to being a voice for the voiceless.

Fight the Power!

Valery J

New Orleans public housing residents and advocates take over the Housing Authority

Just got word in my inbox a while ago that public housing residents and advocates took over the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HONA) earlier today, in response to the utter dereliction of duty that HONA has shown in restoring public housing in the city. From the press release about the action:

Across the country public housing authorities are selling off land, raising rents, firing workers, and leaving countless residents with no place to live. In New Orleans more than 300,000 residents, mostly poor and black, have been denied the right to return to their homes since Katrina hit two years ago.

The Housing Authority building has been locked down and is being surrounded by the National Guard, the New Orleans Police, and Swat. Residents are determined to save their homes and to show that public housing is still a valuable community asset.

The take over of the Housing Authority of New Orleans is a part of the International Tribunal and 2nd Survivor’s Assembly, which is being organized by Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) and is being held to bring charges of racial discrimination and the denial of the right to return.

The city of New Orleans is in fact actively doing away with public housing:

New Orleans’ five public housing complexes were spared major flood damage, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Housing Authority of New Orleans intend to demolish four of them anyway, with plans for mixed-income housing that would leave less room for the poor. Before Katrina, more than 5,000 families lived in the city’s 5,100 public housing units. At present, only about 1,500 units are occupied.

Of course, this is only part of a greater, nationwide trend of neglect and reduction of public housing, further evidence of which I wrote about in July when NYC advocates demanded attention for the ailing public housing system in this city. But the specific situation in New Orleans puts the neglect and even direct targeting that low-income people and people of color have faced in New Orleans in these two years since Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday’s episode of Democracy Now! focused on the situation in New Orleans on this second anniversary of the disaster, giving a far more incisive and honest take than most of the mainstream media’s coverage, as one might expect. Listen to the podcast or read the transcripts for a revealing and infuriating picture of what has and has not been done in the city. I haven’t gotten to listen to the last segment of the show yet, but it’s about what happened to the New Orleans public education system after the hurricane – did you know that 7,500 school employees – nearly all of the teachers in the city – were fired almost directly after the storm? I was shocked to hear that. Gotta listen to find out why that went down and what it meant.

NYC public housing: a shambles in need of fixing

the CVH public housing tour

Many low-income people in NYC rely on public housing as one of the few sources of affordable housing available to them in this city of sky-rocketing rents. However, the conditions in public housing are often sub-par, with poor maintenance and major repairs left undone for years. These conditions are threatening to get worse, even while residents are forced to pay higher rents.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which runs public housing, is facing a budget deficit of $225 million, largely due to major funding cuts from the federal and state governments. NYCHA has been scrambling to make up for this deficit, but most of the measures that it’s taking wind up hurting the residents of public housing: rent increases, additional fees charged for basic household appliances, delays in making urgent and essential repairs, and the planned layoff of more than 500 workers from an already understaffed agency.

Last Thursday, Community Voices Heard, a member-led grassroots organization of low-income New Yorkers, led housing advocates and elected officials on a tour of public housing developments to show them just how important it is that NYCHA gets much-needed funding (and utilizes it well, of course – just because the money’s there doesn’t mean it’ll be used right.)

In one apartment on the the tour, a bathroom wall had been left without repairs for two years; a sheet of plastic has been hung over a gaping hole, leaving pipes and hazardous materials exposed. In another building, the walls of a fire-damaged hallway have not been cleaned for over a year. Residents complained of stoves that haven’t worked for ages, one of which was removed two years ago because of a gas leak and not replaced until last week, when the media contacted NYCHA after the CVH tour.

Agnes Rivera, a CVH leader and a resident of one of the housing developments, spoke of the worsening situation in public housing and how important this housing can be:

We are bringing our elected officials on this tour to show them that our housing is deteriorating. The Housing Authority doesn’t have the money to make the repairs that the families living in public housing need…

I was in the shelter system, due to a domestic violence situation, and was lucky to have public housing as my safe haven. Public housing has helped me live in an affordable home and to afford sending my children to college. My children want to be able to afford the same things for their children.

At the press conference after the tour, CVH and their allies called for Governor Spitzer to sign the shelter allowance bill (S.4329/A.7905) which recently passed both houses of the New York State legislature and could add $47 million to NYCHA’s suffering budget. The bill would make the state’s contribution to NYCHA for residents receiving public assistance the same as the state’s current contribution to private landlords who house public assistance recipients. Coucilmember Rosie Mendez was among those calling on Spitzer to sign the bill:

There is no explanation for public housing authorities receiving less than half the payment private landlords receive for the same size apartment. I urge the Governor to sign the bill and avert the unthinkable consequence that NYCHA is financially unable to continue to provide quality, low-cost housing for New Yorkers that are least able to afford shelter in our city’s overheated private housing market.

Now, maybe Governor Spitzer is a little distracted by the whole Bruno debacle, but his attention needs to be drawn back to signing this crucial bill. Despite our capitalistic society that gives to each according to cash instead of need, public housing should not equal sub-standard housing for low-income people. Email, write to, or call Governor Spitzer to demand his prompt signature of the bill so that the much-needed funding can soon reach NYCHA and ultimately public housing residents.

in case you ever doubted that prison is an industry

From the New York Times, via futurebird on the debunkingwhite Livejournal community: California inmates who meet certain requirements and can fork over a significant amount of dough get to have a cushier stay in prison than their less wealthy fellow inmates:

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts — who are known in the self-pay parlance as “clients” — get a small cell behind a regular door, distance of some amplitude from violent offenders and, in some cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.

Unbelievable, right? Well, not so unbelievable, considering that our entire capitalist society constantly reinforces the notion that, the more money you have, the more worth you have as a person, and the better you deserve to be treated. And hopefully, though unfortunately, we’ve all been disabused of the silly fantasy that the justice is blind, that the justice system in this country is equitable and applies the law fairly and evenly across lines of race and class.

And yet somehow, I still managed to be a little shocked by this. I figure, if you’re a person with racial or economic privilege who still manages to be convicted of a crime (even if it’s a lesser crime than another person with less privilege may have been convicted of), and you actually get sentenced to time in prison (again, even if said sentence is lighter), and even still if you get some preferential treatment from prison authorities, you’re still going to be serving your sentence in basically the same facilities, with basically the same privileges and lack thereof.

Silly me to forget there’s always a way to make sure that the richer and otherwise more privileged are more comfortable and are treated more humanely than everyone else.

Some particularly infuriating passages (emphasis mine):

Many of the self-pay jails operate like secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish.

Wealth and privilege aren’t limited to money; they also extend to knowledge and access to information. Many people are denied all sorts of rights to which they are fully and lawfully entitled because they just don’t know about them. Information is either never offered or made so inaccessible that those rights may as well not exist at all.

Many of the overnighters are granted work furlough, enabling them to do most of their time on the job, returning to the jail simply to go to bed (often following a strip search, which granted is not so five-star).

To me, this was one of the most galling aspects of the pay-to-stay privilege. For most people, the damaging effects of prison sentences extend far beyond the length of the stay. Even a relatively short stay can put a person’s job in jeopardy; do you think that most hourly-wage workers will come back from a few weeks or months in jail to find their old job waiting for them? Hell no; and then, of course, follows the difficulty of finding another job and the financial troubles caused by lost wages. But with the work furlough privilege, you can not only retain your job, but you can continue to make money right through your term.

Only one of the people quoted even comes close to getting at the all too evident problems with this situation:

While jails in other states may offer pay-to-stay programs, numerous jail experts said they did not know of any.

“I have never run into this,” said Ken Kerle, managing editor of the publication American Jail Association and author of two books on jails. “But the rest of the country doesn’t have Hollywood either. Most of the people who go to jail are economically disadvantaged, often mentally ill, with alcohol and drug problems and are functionally illiterate. They don’t have $80 a day for jail.”

Most of the other people quoted simply highlight how racist, classist, and generally fucked up this is.

“The benefits are that you are isolated and you don’t have to expose yourself to the traditional county system,” said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for CSI, a national provider of jails that runs three in Orange County with pay-to-stay programs.

Since when does a person convicted of a crime that requires jail time have such latitude of choice when it comes to what they “expose” themselves to? Not that I’m any fan of the prison industrial complex, but doesn’t that kind of defeat the whole frakking purpose of prison?

Parker continues, going on to say what is perhaps the most outrageously honest thing in this entire article:

“You can avoid gang issues. You are restricted in terms of the number of people you are encountering and they are a similar persuasion such as you.

Hmm… can anyone guess the sort of things she might be talking about when she says “persuasion?”

When talking about how the Pasadena Police Department tried to “create a little buzz” (!) for the program in the 1990s, a department representative says,

“Our sales pitch at the time was, ‘Bad things happen to good people… People might have brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., who might have had a lapse in judgment and do not want to go to county jail.

Right. Because poor people who commit crimes are criminals, and rich people who commit crimes are good people who had a lapse in judgment.

The article’s conclusion seems to assert that the “five-star jails” still suck. Kinda.

Still, no doubt about it, the self-pay jails are not to be confused with Canyon Ranch… Lockdown can occur for hours at a time, and just feet away other prisoners sit with their faces pressed against cell windows, looking menacing.

Because POOR PEOPLE ARE SCARY! Even when all they can do is scowl at you through a window because your money gets you better treatment and privileges than they have.

Ms. Brockett, who normally works as a bartender in Los Angeles, said the experience was one she never cared to repeat.

“It does look decent,” she said, “but you still feel exactly where you are.”

Yeah – in a watered-down version of jail that you get to stay in because of your most likely unearned privilege. We feel for you, really.

At least Trent Lott is a living, breathing bigot*

From yesterday’s headlines on Democracy Now!:

FEMA Gives $3 Million to Restore Jefferson Davis’ Home
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to pay about three million dollars to help repair the former home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Davis led the Confederacy in the South during the Civil War. Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the 150-year-old home in Biloxi Mississippi.

New Orleans Public Housing Residents Fight For Homes
In New Orleans, low-income residents are still fighting to prevent their homes from being demolished. On Saturday some residents of the Central City public housing complex defied government orders and moved back into their old apartments. The city is planning to demolish four large public housing developments even though tens of thousands of low-income New Orleans residents remain displaced.

So. While tens of thousands of low-income residents of New Orleans, most of whom are Black, remain homeless, and while the vast majority of New Orleans homeowners haven’t seen a dime of that vast amount of money supposedly dedicated to helping them rebuild, FEMA is setting aside a whole huge chunk of change to rebuild the house of the man who served as president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

While structurally viable public housing is being demolished (to make way for what, and for whom, we must ask), and while the low-income Ninth Ward still looks much like it did directly after the storm (though I hear the tourist-friendly French Quarter is looking quite well these days), and while thousands upon thousands of people remain scattered and displaced, FEMA is making sure that a monument to man who was at the fore of one of the darkest times in american history is fully restored.

I’m willing to bet that the Jefferson Davis home will see their $3 million in rebuilding funds far before most of the residents of New Orleans see even a fraction of that in federal funds.

Shall we gather, then, that the former home of a long-dead white man who lead the Confederacy in fighting for the continued enslavement of Black people is perhaps more important to FEMA and the rest of this government than the current homes of thousands of the living descendants of those who he wished to keep enslaved?

* FYI: This post’s title is in reference to Bush’s heartwarming demonstration of concern for one of the few hurricane victims about whom he actually gave a damn – Senator Trent Lott: “Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”