Saturday, March 8, 2008

NEW ORLEANS: PRAYERS FOR THE SUFFERING: A NEIGHBORS SON WAS JUST SHOT AND KILLED ON THE STREET.


A few hours ago, just as I was doing the final editing of the 'Notorious" posting I started last night, I heard a woman's wailing cry outside of my house. I looked out the window and saw one woman holding another woman who was crying. It reminded me of the wail that I had heard a few days ago. Not wanting to stare, I shut the curtain and finished working on the posting.

The next thing I knew there were more cars than I have ever seen on this street, there suddenly alot of people on the street. I went out and my neighbor Mary who was feeding the feral city kittys told me that one of our neighbors was just shot.




I joined the spontaneous wake. As I walked I stopped and spoke to a couple of women who were coming my way and asked them who was shot - his name was Yon. His family is one of the nicest families in this neighborhood. They always have a wave and a few words for me whether I pass in the car, on foot or my bike. Now their son is dead, shot in the street.

People who have once lived in this neighborhood have come, they are crying, speaking softly. My neighbors sons who I have photographed on the street are crying. I'm crying.

One more planetary son, brother, grandson, uncle, friend, young man with the possibility of a future, is lying dead on the street.



Think you my brothers, my sisters, that I see you not in your suffering?
I see you with the eyes of my heart and my heart weeps with you…

Prayers for the suffering.



SUNDAY MARCH 10TH, 4 P.M.

The street is once again bumper to bumper with cars. Mourners. Community. Love. Grieving. Talking. Mt. Moriah Church is busy today and many of the people who used to live in this neighborhood are here praying together. I am honoured to live in such a community.

UPDATE: 6 P.M.

Another planetary brother of African decent was murdered around 7 a.m. by gunfire this morning on N. Robertson Street. He was 38 years old. Another man was murdered by gunfire later on Frenchman Street. Most likely these men were father's and husband's, definitely a brother, uncle, son, grandson - no matter their deeds - we must remember their humanity or we shall surely forfeit ours.


UPDATE: MONDAY MARCH 11, 10 P.M.

I sat on my front steps this morning and spoke with Ms Yvonne who has lived in this neighborhood all her life, she told me more of the history of the violence related to Yon's life and the loss of our other neighbors brother to murder just a few houses away from me. She told me of how it is so important to her and others who have lost family members to this particular type of gun violence to learn how to forgive. Then Ms. Hester another neighbor whom I usually say hello to as she passes by my house, was walking by and she came over and we all talked for awhile. I gave Ms. Hester a recipe a West Indian gave me for my lungs as she has severe bronchitis. I went to the store to get the supplies for her and then went to her apartment a few blocks away to show her how to make it tonight and visit a bit. Elodie, who is visiting from France whom I met through this blog, was walking back from the visit with me and as we were walking down the street, in the street, 2 flash style muscle cars drove down the street very aggressively and I said to Elodie, "I have never seen them in this neighborhood before, I wonder if they are coming in to make a statement." That's what it felt like to me, as if they were saying, through their body language and the style of their cars - money, money, money - and how they were driving - aggressively, "if you are the shooter and you are local, we are here, and we are looking for you."


Prayers for the suffering.


"YOUR PRAYING IS MAKING THE NEIGHBORS NERVOUS MA'AM YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAVE." NOPD POLICE OFFICER


10:18 P.M.


I went up the street to the spot where the young man Yon died from gunshot wounds and brought a candle to pray.

The NOPP private security guy came by on the deserted peaceful street first and we talk about this young mans death and the memories and experiences this young man would never have that this security man who was much older had had. I went to the spot where he died and I kneeled and lit my candle under the street light near the spot where Yon died, which is the ''white' section of this street. My white neighbors called the police on me. I am right under the street light, they can see my bright blond head and my red poncho. I am kneeling with a lit votive candle. The first time he cruised by me with lights flashing, I asked him if he was stopping to pray with me, he said no and drove around the block. Then when he came back he parked with his lights blaring on me, when that did not interrupt my prayer, where I was bent on one knee to the ground with my hands in a prayer stance and my head bowed, he got out of the car and asked me to leave.

It seems the back of my feet were by my neighbors drive way. I said then I will just stand here in the street. "No ma'am he said, you have to leave, the neighbors don't want you here, they want to pull their car in." I looked around for a car waiting up or down the street, there was none. Then he said to me, "the neighbors don't want you here, your making them nervous." I looked at him amazed and said, I am a woman they know as a neighbor, with blonde hair and a identifying bright red poncho under the street light praying with a lit candle after a young man was just shot down and left to die in this spot and you are telling me I cannot pray for him?" "It's not that ma'am he says to me". "Yes it is, I cannot pray for him, you are asking me to leave for kneeling here and praying for him."

As I began to walk back to my house the neighbor who called the police stuck his head out and thanked the cop and I heard them talking. I walked back to my house and wrote this. If it was the section of Pitt Street where my black neighbors lived, no one would have called the police on me, they would have come out and prayed with me after figuring out in a few moments what I was doing.

I got at least 10 good minutes of prayer in and I offered to help Yon's soul in anyway I could on his journey back to the Light.

Will you finish my prayers for me?


NOLA.COM SELECTIVE CENSORSHIP ON THE DISCUSSION BOARDS: COMMENTS RACIST AND HATE-FILLED? YOU GET TO STAY. SPEAK TO RACISM AND CLASSISM? YOUR OUR OFF



SUNDAY MARCH 9TH 4:10 P.M.


I posted a comment this morning at 11 a.m. concerning Yon Gaines death on the NOLA.com discussion board following the article concerning his murder last night a block away from my home.

When I returned this afternoon my comment had been removed. The next 2 postings are 2 more comments I made which were promptly taken off of the NOLA.com discussion board.

What bothers me about this is that I rarely read NOLA.com's discussion boards because they allow hateful and blatantly racist remarks. Read some of their other articles and you will be shocked. I only commented on this board because I felt connected to the events and wanted to share a compassionate version from a neighbor of the events surrounding Yon Gaines death.

I can't even say shame on you NOLA.com because it is apparent that you have no shame, my words would just be deleted.

____________________________________________________________


Posted by onemessenger on 03/09/08 at 2:51PM

I posted a kind and thoughtfully expressed comment between dumbprole on 03/09/08 at 10:06AM and ecg5757 on 03/09/08 at 11:02AM

I was censored off this board by a newspaper.

If you would like to read a neighbors take on what occurred last night when Yon was shot and died on our street, Pitt Street, please visit my blog at postkatrina2008.blogspot.com.

peaceinnola on 03/09/08 at 11:54AM I would like to post your comment on my blog to help raise awareness of peacesispossibleinneworleans.com.

Yon Gaines was just not another statistic. He was our brother. And our white brothers and sisters need to come out of their fortresses without their dogs and become a part of the community interacting with their neighbors, especially when their presence is a part of gentrification. And our black brothers need to find hope in a city still prone to racism, classism and a culture that glorifies the "notorious".

And I think my first comment was deemed inappropriate because I was honest enough to talk about my perceptions of the racism and classism - especially UPTOWN!

peace.

I was still really upset by being unfairly censored so I posted this second comment a few minutes later:


You know what really bothers me about being censored?

I don't usually read these discussion boards because I am horrified at the levels of racist and hateful remarks that are allowed and tolerated.

My remarks were honest observations of someone living in the neighborhood about the effects of racism and classism. Thoughtful, kind, and tough comments that reflected intelligence, compassion and awareness.

And remarks like mine were censored and remarks of hate and racism are allowed to remain.

I guess NOLA.com "everything about New Orleans" just taught me something new about New Orleans and how they use their power.

I don't believe I will ever post here again and will be leery to trust news I read on this site again. Yes I am upset. I am upset that a newspaper would allow racism and hateful comments and take down a comment that dared to speak to the old power structures that profit off of the racism and hate.



3:30 p.m. :
Both of these comments have also been removed from the discussion board by NOLA.com
____________________________________________________________

If you can stand it, go back and read other stories where the racist and hate filled comments I speak of in my posting fill discussion boards. What a disgrace.

And thanks NOLA.com for validating my assertions about press manipulation.

Here is the discussion board link: Man Gunned Down in Uptown



I AM A PROUD TO BE A NEIGHBOR AND A PART OF THE BLACK PEARL COMMUNITY


SUNDAY MARCH 9TH 3:30 P.M.

I am proud to be a neighbor in this historically relevant Black New Orleanian neighborhood. I feel honoured to live in a historically relevant neighborhood. I am a neighbor to the Mount Moriah Church where Pastor Harvey still preaches. Pastor Harvey marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.. Mahalia Jackson used to sing at this church. The Buffalo Soldiers, the original "dreadlock rastas" (Bob Marley) formed up the street on Walnut Street when this area was called Greenville, LA. This community of Americans of African decent were some of the first to enjoy the middle class prosperity that came with the unions. My Black New Orleanian neighbors teach me how to be a neighbor. They stop and speak with me, they wave to me as I pass by, they watch out for me, and my house and I with them. My Caucasion neighbors barely dane to nod at me even when I give them a wave or look them directly in the eye and say hello, as I have learnt to do as I have become a New Orleanian. My white neighbors, are often just cutting through the street to walk their dogs, many whom I have made gestures to are just not nice or polite neighbors, they seem very shut down socially and emotionally. They are a part of the gentrification of this neighborhood. These folks bring dogs, fences, paid security and I have observed how they fortress themselves in their homes against "other".

If we want things to change in New Orleans or anywhere in the world where there is racism and classism, then we need to get out in the streets and interact with each other. We are lucky in New Orleans, that type of social interaction necessary to bring about integration and fellowship is already a large part of the community. If only the white folks coming in to this neighborhood through what seems to be a concious intention of gentrification could learn to be a neighbor and part of this rich cultural community. It could start with the realization that belonging to a neighborhood association that ignores the name of this neighborhood - "The Black Pearl" as identified on the US Census and renaming itself the "The Uptown Triangle" is not integrating 'with' - it is creating it's own little world and then hiring priovate security to keep themselves safe.

Leyon Gaines was shot 2 blocks from where NOPP houses imported Chilean citizens to train them as private security guards here on 3 month visas. NOPP vehicles are constantly driving in this neighborhood picking them up and dropping them off. Their presence made no difference in stopping Leyon's death.

Becoming a neighbor, a part of the community, is what will bring about change.


To read another posting about this awesome neighborhood:

THE AVERAGE BLACK YOUTH DOES NOT EXPECT TO LIVE PAST 25 THAT'S WHY THEY ARE TRYIN TO BECOME 'NOTORIOUS' - Albert Jean-Pierre


Whilst Daniel was trying to create a new and more positive future for himself and his family, his past came to call and demanded payment.

Daniel and his family are living a part of the nightmare that is New Orleans for the Black men who have been lucky enough to live past 35 and not be incarcerated, even though many have gotten into some minor/not so minor, felony infractions. When I watch what is happening in Daniels life, he seems in some way to be the embodiment of everyman when it comes to the situation for too many young Black men in this country.

I have heard it said, in the Black community, for years primarily through the media, that the Black man has historically been institutionally punished more often and longer than then other ethnic groups. What I have witnessed is that American men of African decent~the Black American man, becomes a part of an insidious political-corporate soul destroying entity called "for profit" prison industry. A corporation by law must be profitable and so new sources of revenue - i.e. 'human beings' are needed to fill the prisons. In turn, more human bodies filling a prison creates the need for more 'profitable' prisons to be built. When I look at this through my heart I have a vision of a soul destroying serpent which is a part of a Medusa like entity.

And this is only one aspect for there are many other political-corporate structures that are a part of this Medusa feeding off of the sufferings of the least among us.

It seems to me that within the crime and law structures that we have created as part of our national consciousness, that we have created a way which allows us to forget, be in denial when it comes to this particular group of human beings. These are the incarcerated, the law breakers, and the mentally handicapped and ill, all of whom become a blur on our national consciousness's which only seems to be awakened when we hear some political rhetoric about being "tough on crime" or when there is news of another murder on the streets. In many of the Black communities I have been welcomed into, I have met TOO many people who know from the depths of their hearts and their ancestors hearts, about what "being tough on crime" means, most especially the Black man. From what I have witnessed in New Orleans, TOO many Black American mothers and fathers watch their children or the children in their communities grow up in poverty, violence, and under a classism that comes from institutionalized racism and oppression by a majority of unconsciously sleeping, privileged, "white" Americans.


LAW + MERCY = REDEMPTIVE POSSIBILITES

I can tell you that it took me until I was 48 to really begin to have a ' profound knowing' of how horrible racism and classism is. That insidious racism (especially) did not stop with the reforms and the steps that were made in the 1960's and 1970's surprised me when I first came to the South. I will never lose the consciousness that racism (and classism) is institutionalized and often privatized, dehumanizing, and probably even more things that I haven't stated as I am no trained activist with statistics; I am just one planetary sister~human being "showing up" for my planetary brothers and sisters.

Yeah, I am just 'getting it' and it has really only been since coming to New Orleans to serve. This evolving awakening has happened through the meetings of 3rd and 4th generation Black Americans of African decent, whose family members can name decedents that were from slavery or were free born. I am really just getting it that with 'freedom' for the Americans of African decent came the lynchings. Then the Jim Crow laws. I have harse thoughts for our ancestors who engaged in the slavery of other human beings for themselves and their families personal profit. I feel too many were pious arrogant hypocrites who brought other human beings in chains as SLAVES to lands which they were taking from the First Nation Peoples whom they were slaughtering pretty much wholesale, for land.

Here is an illustration of how far away I was from the greater consciousness of what life has been like for TOO many Black Americans, and for me, most especially, Black New Orleanians: I remember getting frustrated over the years when watching Tony Brown's Journal on PBS or listening to News & Notes on NPR thinking, "hey this kind of stuff is over with and why are the people on these shows so angry anyway?"

I was aware of blatant tolerated racism, such as DWB and unconscious racist remarks around me (compared to what I have seen in the South I would say the racism I was exposed to seemed to be from cultural ignorance rather from old hates and prejudices based on race.) so I was out of the loop which might give context to the anger I was hearing. I in my sleepy white priviliged reality, I thought there really had been greater strides in equality and ending racism then there actually were. I was only 6 when the Rev. Martin Luther King was becoming a household name and in the news. I was exposed to Black culture through music which I loved and through television. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood where my parents where the second and third generation children of European immigrants. In the early years my parents were poor, my dad always working 2 jobs and fixing everything in miraculous way. Alright, I am digressing, we were poor at first and then my parents got the privilege to be a part of the middle class national growth that came right after the periods when All in the Family and the Jefferson's were on t.v.. That was my only exposure, there were no Black families nearby unless one purposely drove into which I now understand to be the segregated Black section with some racially integrated areas, which were still considered to be "bad" neighborhoods without anyone really saying why. As I am writing this I am remembering being taught through whispered inuendo that "it was dangerous" to ever drive in the Black neighborhoods. OMG, I grew up is an racially exclusive middle class white only community 20 minutes out side of ironically ~ the city of brotherly love. Actually it has only been within the last 10 years maybe, that in my old neighborhood where my mother still resides, that I now see Black families in cars and in stores and living as a next store neighbors (a mixed race marriage, and for where I grew up this level of integration is big).

Here's where I am going with this line of 'reasoning', yes some Black Americans did get to enjoy what my parents did thanks to the unions. Yet there was always a big difference even if a Black American family did prosper. There was and continues to be racial profiling. And that is just unfair - because I was born into a 'white' family - my family members will never be racially profiled. Unless my father committed a traffic infraction, there was no reason for a police officer to randomly pull him over. And what I didn't understand then, and am only really getting through my being in New Orleans, is that just by the fact that my skin is peachy-white, I have many more freedoms, civil rights enforcements, and what I have come to understand as "privileges" than someone whose skin is brown, dark brown, or black.

I have "privileges" just because I was born into a peachy-white colored vehicle for my souls embodied journey on this planet.



RACISM
CLASSISM-------=------HUMAN BEINGS AS REVENUE SOURCE$
OPPRESSION


Wow, wait until all the laws that Congress and the Bush administration have created to severely curtail our freedoms and liberties, come into affect. I believe it will only be then that the 'average' white man and woman will know what it is like to lose liberties and the right to a life of respect and dignity when they live under oppression and selective corporate/religious/politically institutionalized group punishment. film link: America: From Freedom to Facism

Perhaps the loss of rights will be a different version if you will, but the human suffering that comes with it will be same. Perhaps that is how the pendulum will balance itself and in the end, once everyone loses their rights, we will finally evolve and never again act in this with way with our planetary brothers and sisters.


Blessings to Daniel and his family -- everywhere there is racism, classism, and oppression.




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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

THROUGH LONG SUFFERING WE LEARN LOVE


Through pride
we learn humility.


Through long suffering
we learn love.

-Daniel




Daniel and Wethana have a pretty intense day ahead of them today - Wednesday March 5th. They could use your thoughts, your prayers if you pray, or your peaceful loving, conscious, intentions.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BACK ON THE PLANETARY CLOCK...


I am posting and volunteering again. Not at full speed yet as I still can feel pain in my right lung from the pneumonia, which is the body's way of reminding me "push yourself too hard, too soon, and the pneumonia will be back!"

One of the more difficult things of not being able to 'do' in the last month was not being able to bring HotHands to the homeless when it was cold. So I am really grateful my first volunteering opportunity involves bringing HotHands, 4 ski caps, and 2 bags of charcoal out for later today and tonight. Thanks to Beth, Dan, Elijah and Noah for the donation funds that bought the charcoal and part of the HotHands.

You know it is really challenging for me to write about what I 'do'. I feel that when I write of it, it somehow leaves the realm of my heart and moves into the the realm of the ego, even if I don't personally get attached to it, it is the fact that you are reading about what I am doing - I guess it has to do with being 'seen'. Here's the conflicting part; I know that I was originally inspired to come to New Orleans to serve by hearing of others being here serving at a Rainbow Gathering in Vermont. And so I try to use this example of how to talk about being in service that may inspire and how to stay humble knowing that there are others here that give and do so very much more than I.

There are planetary brothers and sisters who are still gutting houses. There are others who are helping in the rebuilding, either by volunteering or working for a small stipend for volunteering agencies. I know of one LA Delta Corps volunteer coordinator who volunteers when he can make the time, as in when his is not working (which is almost always when volunteers are here and ready to work). I know of a volunteer who has given so much without pay, who had his van and all his tools stolen who is still volunteering! Then there are those who are working really hard to promote their non-profit volunteering agencies to help the neighborhoods and communities that they feel a resonance with and then working building and being 'with' the communities that they serve. There are so many inspiring planetary brothers and sisters here doing so much more than me. Often they are just too busy to invest what time they have left in maintaining a blog.

Yeah, these are the people I like to write about and meet. They inspire me .

peace.
your planetary sister



Thanks Mary for the flowers for the Buddha and I whilst I was ill.

And thanks for getting me groceries and doing the postal stuff too.

Thanks Doran & Mashubi for the gift to buy the OTC's and herbs I needed.

Thanks Ulla for your love and for the help with healing, thanks for listening to me when I was afraid.

Thanks Cole for calling me and making sure I was okay.

Thanks Mrs. G for putting me on the 'prayer line'.

Gratitude and love to my other planetary brothers and sisters that helped me when I was down.

Jah Guide.

Tuesday 7:30 P.M.

Well I gave out all the HotHands, emergency blankets @15, hats, 2 bags of charcoal, 1 pair of shoes and Nature Man who came with me donated some tubes of toothpaste and HotHands he had.

Whilst I was walking around this is what seemed important to remember:

Everyone seems to be eating thanks to the people who come and feed the homeless here.

It helps to keep the porta-potties emptied. They are of no help to the homeless when they are not emptied of waste.

Bringing toilet paper is helpful.

Little sister is gone. I hope this means she got her apartment.

Too many of the homeless that I spoke with had gone through or are still going through the respiratory virus that I told you I had. They had to go through this really intense virus outside in a tent, or on an exposed mattress, in the cold, the rain, the damp under the highway. I thought I had it hard in my safe and warm house. They had to go through it under a noisey highway, exposed to all the elements. Many blessings to these planetary brothers and sisters in their hardships.

One of the homeless men I spoke with told me he went to the doctors yesterday for the respiratory infection but without papers and i.d. he couldn't get care. He says they are working on it for him. When we were done speaking he blessed me!

I came upon a man an woman sitting by a bed and a chair under the bridge, she was so cold, I asked him how he was, and he said truthfully, "Awful, I have no job, no home." How hard his and his wife's life is, I can't even begin to understand their sufferings.

My heart continues to be touched deeply by the way people who leave for the day leave their mattresses and tent areas. Yeah, there are some disaster areas, yet there are far more spaces kept with such care, expecially some of the exposed mattresses, the way belongings are left, arranged, with care, it touches my heart so profoundly. To have so very little materially and still manage to convey dignity, speaks to me of extraordinary 'being'ness. I give thanks to my Beloved Teacher for teaching me how to 'see' my planetary brothers and sisters in this way.

The elderly man that is all the way at the end is still there by his bed and his chair. He too had the virus, he said he still has some coughing. I gave him extra Hot Hands not only for the cold but for his arthritis in his legs which is painful to him. It is so hard to see him there. My eyes are glad to see him for I like his spirit and enjoy my brief interactions with him, but oh how how much better it would be for him to have a a warm, safe home to live in. He is elderly and homeless under the bridge.

Elderly and homeless under the highway. Mentally ill and homeless under the highway. Broken, wounded planetary brothers and sister living under the highway. And amongst them are the humans that are so broken they have become the scavengers, the thieves, and others still, that I encounter that I would not like to meet under the highway at night.

I know there are many people, individuals and organizations who are trying to help the homeless and those who continue to suffer post-Katrina as much as possible. I also know that in the city of New Orleans there are far too many people who live a privileged life, even myself, who are predominantly caucasian and the poor, who are predominantly black, continue to live in incredible hardship and poverty. I was in Nature Man's neighborhood today off of Elysian Fields and St. Anthony and the difference between how little rebuilding is going on in his neighborhood and the privileged good living that is enjoyed by the few who can pay the higher rents Uptown is heartbreaking.

Capitalism is so unfair. Racism is so unfair.