Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Relief Links

Having been on the receiving end of so much help during Katrina, I am looking for any way possible to help the people of Haiti. The bodies are piling up in the street. Many people have no place to go, and when I say "many" the numbers are enormous. So far I have found these relief organizations, I'm sure there are more. I will add to them as I find them, but I felt an immediate response was necessary so I am posting these links. We are not rich, but I remember how many reached out to us personally after the storm. Even five bucks will help and I feel compelled to complete the circle of help that I was so lucky to be a part of nearly five years ago.

Planting Peace (orphanages and other worthy efforts)

Yele Haiti This is Wyclef Jean's organization. He has an alternate way to donate, although the system went down last night. It is evidently back up and running, but the website is up for sure. Alternate giving method: •Text "Yele" to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. The $5 will be added to your phone bill. You can visit and click on DONATE."

Catholic Relief Services Regardless of your view of Catholicism, these folks have been down there for 55 years and their Archbishop died in the Quake. They are still working to do what needs to be done.

Doctors Without Borders These folks lost three hospitals in the Quake. They too, are still working.

As I said, I'll be posting more links as I find them, or readers, please put links in your comments if you can add to this list.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What the HELL are you THINKING?

I get asked that question a lot. By a lot of folks, under a lot of circumstances. I decided to oblige them and answer it. Some of what I'm thinking is just plain silly. Some not so silly. These are some of the things I've been thinking about in that time between wakefulness and sleep, when my mind is wheeling around, sorting through all the data input from that day.

1. I dislike Stacy Head, one of our councilwomen. A lot of people really like her, and I should add, she's not the representative from my district. At first I didn't pay much attention to her, but then once during some Fest (no, I can't remember which one but I sure remember her!) I was standing with my daughter and grandson when she and her family arrived. She haughtily pushed my grandson and me aside without so much as an excuse me. At that point I thought she was just some rude woman, then the person to my right leaned over and told me who she was. So as a person I'm not crazy about her. When she put her emails online I thought it was brave but also a tad reckless as some of her comments within the emails were a bit over the line, IMO. Some of it was the kind of thing that one might blurt to a friend over beer at the bar, but talking about some of her colleagues the way she did bothered me. She has also said some things (no, I don't have all the damn links!) that lead me to think she might want to remake New Orleans in San Diego's image. Not crazy about her. Can ya tell?

2. I dislike Police Chief Warren Riley. I was at a meeting in the Marigny a few months back. He had a lot to say about crime statistics, lack of funds, lack of personnel. He discussed cops sitting in cars with a/c rather than walking through the streets they patrol, getting to know the people in the area. All of it sounded good. He had his talking points down. (And yes, I DO have all the notes from that meeting should you want them.) Brian Denzer, a local activist, asked him about the statistics: why couldn't they be posted in real time. Riley's answer was lack of personnel. Last week he said his department really didn't have anything to do with all that. Which answer was correct? NOPD has something to do with posting the stats and doesn't have enough people OR NOPD has nothing to do with it and it's done by an outside entity? Which statement is BS? Not crazy about him. Can ya tell?

3. Now Head and Riley are evidently at loggerheads. In this article Riley claims Head used a racial slur in an email regarding him. If she did, and that email can be produced, she needs to go, resign, skedaddle, and that right quick. On the other hand, This could be Riley muckraking. I was particularly taken by his comment that a shadow government is trying to ignore all the positive things that he and Ray Nagin have done. Huh? How does Nagin figure into this? I was also intrigued by his comments regarding his future prospects being "profound and lucrative," saving his best comment for last, "I'm not just a Police Chief." Maybe therein lies the problem, Chief Riley. "Just" a police chief? Makes me think you consider your job a bit beneath you, protectin' and servin' all these folks here in New Orleans. Can't remember, but wasn't it you who said a while back that we needed a "better class of citizen" here? Contempt for the people you are supposed to serve doesn't serve at all. As for Ms. Head, there is no way to prove a negative so it will be hard to provide proof that she did NOT use a racial slur in an email regarding Riley. However, if the caller referred to in this article has that email, I'd sure like to see it. Then Head's head should be on a platter and Riley will be gone to his profound and lucrative la la land, at which point maybe we can get some people in those positions who are not busily race baiting while kids are shooting each other in the streets. Just my two cents, which ain't worth a lot.

4. I was sitting in the St. Roch Tavern one night. A bunch of us were eating, drinking and talking over near the pool table. A man struck up a conversation with me as the guy he came in with was playing pool with the guy I'd come in with. Some kids were playing guitar and displaying their ink over to our right. St. Roch Tavern is one of those places where everyone is welcome. Race, age, economic status--these things aren't important there as long as your economic status allows you to buy a beer now and then. The man is a janitor in a building somewhere downtown, can't remember which one. He went to Mac35, which is how our conversation started. We were talking about the band at Mac35 and he said he was in the band years ago. We talked cheese fries, football, kids. We laughed at the smack talking happening at the pool table. We ordered a couple more beers. He mentioned his mother's ill health, and somehow the topic wound up being the Iberville Housing project. Lord knows how we got there. It certainly wasn't planned. We talked about the possibility of it being torn down one day. We talked about the idea of housing projects in general. We talked about the kids growing up in them. We talked about what kinds of solutions there were to economic and educational deficits. I then told him that a friend (and I guess I have to say to anyone who would wonder about the source that this friend was a native New Orleanian, black male, about my age) who had lived with us for some months a year ago had warned me to never, ever set foot in Iberville. "You'll get shot," said my friend. "Just don't ever go there, you'll never make it out." The man at St. Roch started laughing and laughing and laughing. Once he composed himself he said, "You could walk right on through there. No one's gonna shoot you. They'd all be too scared of you." HUH? That was a new one. Scared? Of ME? Grey haired lady on a bicycle and they'd be scared? He said, "Hell yeah. They'd be pretty sure you were a parole officer or a probation officer or a social worker. They wouldn't fuck with you cuz YOU would scare THEM to death."

Mind you I'm not necessarily going to head off to Iberville to try his theory, although me being me I am sorely tempted. I spent the rest of that night horrified that anyone would be afraid of me. Afraid. I hated that. It keeps popping up as I go to sleep. Afraid. Of ME. Bothers me a lot. A quiet little bit of a race issue. Not riots in Watts in the 60's. Uh uh. Little grey haired white lady assumed to be a parole officer. Oh my god.

Then I noticed a comment on a friend's Facebook page. Something to the effect that it's always open season on tourists at Iberville. Bothers me. A lot. Black people in projects assumed to be criminals. Oh my god.

I'm not naive. I know racism exists. I am baffled by it. I grew up with it, but never understood it. Still don't. I also know that criminals exist and that there are some people out there who just don't give a shit, would shoot me standing without a bit of conscience. One of those people might be black. Another might be white. Either way I'm just as dead. Don't understand that killing choice either. Never have. I also can't go around being scared of everyone I see or there's just no point in going on.

So I see an article in the paper today, Riley and Head, did she or didn't she? Possible race baiting all around, then I think about the assumptions made by regular people, little, tiny, quiet assumptions building brick by brick a wall between neighborhoods and people. The walls whispered behind, hidden behind, giggled behind in a joke unchecked by the watercooler or an email meme blasted out willy nilly. No one takes issue with the meme's sender, they just quietly hit the delete button, either giggling or vomiting depending on their bent.

I am naive in this: I want the world to be like the St. Roch Tavern, where everyone's talking with each other not at or about each other, at least on a good day. I want our officials to talk about what needs to be done, not try to divide and conquer. In the doing of that they only manage the divide part, and ya know, we seem to manage that all by our bigoted little selves. We don't need their help.

For today, that's what the hell I'm thinking.

EDIT 1/12/2010: In this article at Riley appears to retract his statement: "Off-camera, Riley told WDSU that he doesn't believe the e-mail is a big deal, that he's never seen the message and he doesn't have proof that Head actually sent it."

Makes the entire thing even more disgusting IMO.