Saturday, September 03, 2005

tony's kanye city

In the spirit of good debate, I want to respond to a post on my favorite blog (and primary news source) about Kanye West's comments about Katrina.

First, the minor stuff: Dude, those sites you've linked to discrediting Kanye are not the least bit credible. One of them speculates elsewhere that his dad might be Cornell West, which is aboslutely absurd. Coonsider this: If these allegations were remotely true, do you honestly believe that with all the attention Kanye has received from the media -- the so-called liberal white media -- that there isn't a single ambitious reporter or news organization would pounce on the opportunity to discredit a black man? And he's not a "third rate rapper" by any measure. He's obviously at the very top of the game. Moreover, he's reacquainting the medium with its original socially conscious spirit. (More on that later.)

But with regards to what Kanye said, I think he was on point. Yes, it's an exageration to say that Bush doesn't care about blacks. But Bush is the figurehead of a vast and historical policymaking apparatus that, the overwhelming evidence indicates, has little regard for blacks (or, in more plain, frustrated English: "doesn't care"). And I fail to see how one can see the images coming out of New Orleans and not see it as clear evidence of the racial divide in our country.

Of course, it seems an over simplification to say the slow response to the needs of those stranded in the city is due to a lack of caring for blacks. But it's true if you tease out the genealogy of the situation. Consider the report KC's own Jamie Metzl helped to write regarding America's ability to respond to terrorist attack. It pointed out that first responders -- fire fighters, cops, emergency crews, etc. -- are underfunded and poorly trained. Sure, the report was about terrorism, but these are the same tools our government uses to protect the public's well-being in natural disasters. Why are these first-responders ill-equipped? Because, under Bush's leadership, our nation's priorities are elsewhere, namely in tax cuts for the rich and an imperialist war in Iraq.

So how does this relate to blacks? Well, history has clearly shown that disasters of any kind disproportionately affect the poor. And the poor in this nation is disproportionately black (and I might mention here that the very existence of New Orleans, the fact that it's situated below a floodplain, is because of "King Cotton" and all the enslaved Africans who picked it, not to mention the stolen, bloody land it was grown on).

For the past five years, we've seen Bush spend a lot of capital advancing the interests of the white and well-to-do in this country. And this has left us vulnerable to suffer the sort of problem that we, as the "most advanced country on earth," should be able to easily solved. What I'm saying is, we're advanced enough to know that this was an inevitibility. You don't build a river under water without knowing the potential consequences. And you don't have cities that are predominantly black and poor without knowing that those cities are black and poor and knowing that when the inevitible comes that its inhabitants will be fucked.

So, I agree. Bush, and all that he represents, doesn't really care about blacks. Not in a significant way. That's what I see in the images on my TV screen.

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