Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ask Questions

By now, you've probably heard about Kanye's outburst of emotional babble on the Hurricane Katrina telethon. If you haven't actually seen it though, watch it here. (Mike Myers reaction is ridiculous - something out of an SNL skit).

Most articles make his comments out to be a well thought out diatribe against the response to the black victims in New Orleans, but really it is more like a kid who is trying to tell you a story and has too much to say so he can't get it all out. Kanye was literally on the verge of tears of anger I think, and so unfortunately his comments come out as verbal diarrhea. But he does manage to get out two important points - one which I made here about the media constantly referring to black people as looters, and the other, which is becoming the battle cry for disillusioned citizens. "George Bush doesn't care about Black people."

Despite the muddled result, the intentions behind his comments are admirable. It takes a lot of courage to risk your celebrity and try to speak up for what you believe. I'm actually beginning to think that there is much more to West than sick beats, tight lyrics, and a questionable flow.

Other bloggers are beginning to ask some important questions about why the majority of stranded victims are all poor black folks. Race and class are definitely huge factors in determining who suffered the most when the hurricane hit - but maybe the fact that New Orleans is a predominantly poor, Black city led to the neglect from Federal and State officials in adequately preparing the city for this type of disaster in the first place. And the media focus on sporadic "looting" and lawlessness seems to be merely a distraction from the less sensationalized story of normal American families suffering and dying needlessly.

It is wonderful to see people unite and be moved into action to help the victims in Mississippi and New Orleans, but that doesn't mean these questions shouldn't be asked. People often show their true colors in times of panic, and what our society has displayed is a persisting racism and class prejudice that pervades our media coverage, our government agencies, and our public consciousness.

Did we really need bloggers to tell our journalists that American citizens are not refugees? Do we really need a rich rapper to be the first to raise the issue of race on a national level? Questions.

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