Friday, September 02, 2005

Africa, America

People are commenting that the scenes in New Orleans remind them of Somalia and Black Hawk Down, and they are right. But without resorting to exaggerations or over-the-top drama, I see scenes out of deep, depressed Africa every day on my way to work in SE Washington, DC. Those people have NOTHING in common with white and comfortable America, their quality of life is decidedly third world and their prospects are gloomy at best.

I don't understand how it is that the rest of us have managed to isolate ourselves from the realities of life in our major cities -- to isolate them from us -- be it through American Idol shows and the NFL, or through schools selling children "You Have An Equal Right To The Pursuit of Happiness" America Dream propoganda, or through real estate prices and segregated schooling.

Watching the flood footage on TV these days is just shocking -- it's like "Whoa where have all these thousands of distressed poor black people come from?" Seems like they've last made their appearance on national news during the LA riots; oh and they're on local news nightly talking about some other murder in another cliche segment with flashing red lights and yellow police tape in the background.

More than half of our cities are unlivable by any decent modern definition -- they might as well have been under water all along, for all white America cares.

These people in New Orleans, in a few days some official will come on TV and say that the process of evacuation is complete, and in a few months he will come on again to inform us that people are now allowed back into the city. White America, using their first-world mentality, will assume that insurance or the feds will take care of everything, and that life will resume as normal. The poor black people will leave the news screens again, and we'll resume talking about the missing girl in Aruba.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Nature copes

Ant balls not an urban myth

In addition to all of the other horrors befalling New Orleanians during the flood was the creepy discovery that red ants form themselves into floating clusters to avoid drowning. As Dante Ramos and I paddled along Carrollton Avenue on Wednesday, I saw two glittering, golf ball-sized masses of ants floating beside our canoe.

- Doug MacCash