Monday, September 18, 2006

Rising Tide Observations 2

Two new posts at Katrina Refrigerator:
From September 16, 2005 here.

From September 18, 2005 here. I have to say that re-reading all of these a year after they were written has been trial. And I've been adding notes and photos to them, which has made them very much more "you are there" for us here. Hope you've been enjoying them.

I mentioned in the last Rising Tide Observations post that I felt there was a paucity of black voices among our group. Ashley Morris said: "Slate, it ain't like we didn't try...believe me." And then he sent a wonderful giggle to my husband and me. I believe him. I believe the organizers tried very hard. They are an ecumenical group and they do understand that the black voices need to be heard here.

But at Rising Tide I saw few black faces. GBitch (see blog roll and READ her posts on Charity Hospital, they're amazing) was there, and there was a young guy, Dr. Eban Walters, who was clearly listening avidly to what was being said. (We need to get him to do a blog and join us.) I might have missed a few as I got there late, but it was a strange feeling to listen to lots of white people discussing things like the election dynamics and race and seeing no black faces on the panel and very few in the audience.

I had had a discussion during the elections about voting for Nagin or Landrieu. Basically my view was that we had two rich, bald guys saying the same things running for mayor. Outside of here it was probably seen as one black guy and one white guy, but for many of us here it was simply "two rich bald guys." I voted for Landrieu, and one of the main reasons for me was that I felt that he hadn't burned as many bridges in the state or federal government as Nagin probably had. That sounds simplistic, and there were other reasons naturally, but my vote absolutely had no racial component.

This city has historically been racially mixed and heavily weighted toward people of color in terms of demographics. People of color have to weigh in on the rebuilding process. I'm just not seeing much of it even though New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward were so devastated and also overwhelmingly black.

I heard a remarkable man, Dr. Jerry Ward, a professor at Dillard University, and an esteemed scholar, essayist and poet on Thursday evening. He is also a black man. He said, "Southern writers are now in a peculiar position of being both witness and juror." He exhorted those of us who write to make sure that we get the information out, with an eye to forcing change.

I think the Rising Tide bloggers are absolutely doing that, but as Alan Gutierrez mentioned, there is a digital divide. That divide takes many forms. There are those like me who learn as much as we need to and not more, but we have the access. There are others who are absolutely afraid of technology. Then there are others without the education or financial means to have access to it, much less the luxury of deciding what parts of it they'll learn.

We have to do something to change that. And we can't wait another generation. We can't wait until the kids in school now become computer literate. I think there are plenty of people of color out there who ARE computer literate. They are professors, engineers, doctors, in the same occupations as most of the bloggers at Rising Tide. Somehow we have to find a way to reach out to them. We need their voices to be heard, and more importantly, THEY need for their voices to be heard. They sure aren't being heard in our mayor's voice, and in fact, his statements have not helped racial tension one bit in some quarters.

Anyone have any idea how we can do this?
Upon reading this, my husband felt that this sounded "racially arrogant." Perhaps he's right.

Perhaps I should have said, WE need for their voices to be heard.

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