Kanye West and Georgie

On the plane back from Vermont this morning (trees, lake, and mountains are good for the soul) I caught a clip of Kanye West’s ad-lib about New Orleans and George Bush during NBC’s concert to raise funds for New Orleans. Standing next to Mike Myers, who didn’t seem to know what to do with himself, West said what I and a lot of other of people have been saying, that the destruction of New Orleans is partly an issue of race, since the majority of the victims of this thing are poor and black. It’s hard to think that if a similar disaster had hit the white population of a city like Boston the federal government would be so sluggish in its response.

I don’t think Georgie or anyone else thought, “don’t help them because they’re black”; it’s a more nuanced racism than that. It’s about neglecting the very existence of these people, pretending that they don’t exist. It’s about developing evacuation plans that assume that everyone owns a car. And it’s about denying, as Condi Rice did, that race plays any part in anything when almost everybody —even uber-Bush apologist David Brooks— can see that it is still a huge player in our national psyche.

So here’s a link to Kanye West’s refusal to read his prepared lines, and the speech he gave instead. I think it was brave and important for him to say what he said. When you’re such a public figure, it’s important to use that platform for good once in a while.

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  1. http://www.petitiononline.com/tru56ppa/petition.html

    Please consider this petition in response:

    To: US Congress

    When Iraq was destroyed the rebuilding contracts went to American companies such as Kellog Brown and Root and Halliburton taking all that profit out of the hands of Iraqis and giving it to Bush cronies.

    New Orleans is going to be rebuilt. ALL of that work should go to local New Orleans people. New Orleans people need work. New Orleans people need thier beloved city to rise again. New Orleans and the rest of us need New Orleans to be the multicultural gumbo at it’s full glory again. All the materials where possible should be bought from New Orleans and Louisianna business people, from local sustainable local resources. All supply and subcontract orders should go to the people of Louisianna. If the local ecomony of our beloved New Orleans is going to recover it is going to be because NOLA rebuilds herself…not because contracts go to outside contractors from far away who benefit from thier relationship to the Bush administration. New Orleans without it’s residents is a Disneyland for the rich. Instead we need a WPA project making it possible for NOLA residents to rebuild thier own town.

    New Orleans is the soul of America. Without it’s residents it has no soul.

    Save the soul of America… support NOLA residents in moving home and rebuilding thier own beloved hometowm with our help, with our money and support.

    Federal monies must be made available to follow through on the subsidence mediation, levee and channel projects. Where large outside contractors are ABSOLUTELY nessesary they MUST hire and TRAIN local residents to do the work and get paid for that work.

    Cronyism killed New Orleans, by putting a man with O DISASTER RECOVERY experience in charge of the effort. Localism will save it. The people of NOLA will save it.


    Thank you please pass this on!


    The Undersigned

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