Wednesday, July 2, 2008

EVERY PERSON MATTERS - THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMITMENT TO PEACE & REMEMBRANCE CHARLES

THERE'S A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: WHEN PROPERTY "VALUES" OVERRIDE VALUES OF HUMANITY AND COMPASSION: THE GENTRIFICATION OF A POST KATRINA NEIGHBORHOOD




When am i being drawn into, and participating in, gossip and drama

&

what are valid incidences of economic and social injustices I witness post-Katrina New Orleans?



If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Desmond Tutu




I purposely chose to use the small "i" when writing the above inquiry of my "self" in my service work. Lately, I have been going through {unpleasant ordeals} with much drama (conflict) - which has included violence to my property/home, as well as robberies. I have found myself becoming unconcsiously engaged in local drama's in my neighborhood; which leaves me feeling frustrated as my "Sanga," my temple, my sacred place of rest; has become violated. I find myself confiding in people who later manipulate me or who are just plain liars and cheats. It has taken me some time to see that there are those who see me as my mailman aptly put it, "you have a big "N" on your forehead" - "N" for naive." Yeah, it's how I AM made me. And it is why I ask so many questions and what led me to caring so much about my planetary brothers and sisters. And I can be an easy target - mark, whatever you call it - if someone has a will to be wicked and has an opportunity to do so - they often see me as their 'opportunity'. That's happened far too often than I would like to admit in my service/volunteer work in New Orleans. For the most part, most people get a pass - forgiveness - that is when I figure out what they are really up to and walk away from it. If I see that someone I am engaging has motives/agenda which involves seeking to manipulate or cheat what they see as a weakness in me - my kindness and naivete, then I can be gracious enough to forgive them and walk away from them. I know what they will be losing, a loving presence in their life,; a persom whom would have willingly tried to do their best to just be a planetary sister if they did not exploit, desecrate or harm what was being shared with them by my knowing them.

The drama I am surrounded by is tangible, when the word "drama" is understood as conflict. And in my neighborhood I have been watching the "conflict - drama" unfold, seeping into my home life, as racial tension builds in my neighborhood, as the gentrification marches forward in brand New Orlean$, I perceive that I am witnessing my planetary WHITE neighbors imposing their values (i.e.: "my" property value is more important than the value found in your humanity - i.e: any troubles you might have financially that may cause you to leave something unsightly in my line of vision, which I may see from my window, front door, or near my property - your humanity is impeding upon my property value.) upon the local culture.

{I think the worst form of this rigid property value system consciousness can be found in groups who live in condos or gated communities. Many have strict rules of what you can and cannot do on your own property, which may seem 'messy' or 'unsightly' to your neighbors tastes. At least they are choosing to isolate themselves. But to have the same consciousness and live in a neighborhood, a community, this _________ what ?? I don't even know what it's name is - I just know the consequences of a consciousness that values property values over the value found in our shared humanity.}


“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”


Yesterday, 4 people on my street were hit with "abandoned vehicle" violation stickers. Oddly enough, none of these cars were abandoned. Later I found out from a New Orleanian police officer that these can be given out if your "brake sticker" is not valid, or even if your plates are valid, you may have canceled your insurance (officials can scan your car as they drive through neighborhoods (I have done research and found that the average is about $700- $780 for 6 months of coverage). 1 car was validly in violation as their sticker from another state was 3 years overdue - but it is a newer model sports car, the wax still shines on it. The neighbors who use this car drive it everyday. Another was a station wagon (with a new 2010 LA sticker on their plates it seems they had not gotten their brake sticker yet. On top of this, they made the mistake of parking the wrong way on the two way street, near the stop sign). I looked inside the car as I read the abandonment violation sticker and saw children's belongings and juice containers on the console, the car belonging to one of my neighbors. The other vehicle belongs to a neighbor, who works with their truck doing odd jobs, etc. Their vehicle, whether they are behind on his tickets or missing a sticker, was in fact, not abandoned, they use it everyday.


My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
Desmond Tutu


The two planetary White neighbors who have complained to me far too often of our planetary Black neighbors who are less fortunate financially, who are "bringing the neighborhood property values down", they are both new neighbors. {Most of the people who live in this neighborhood who are of African decent, have lived here for a few generations at least}. One of these new neighbors told me in frustration that they have called the city repeatedly to report 2 of what they consider to be "abandoned" vehicles, which were on private property. This person vehicles had the ill luck to fall in the line of vision of their neighbors windows. I had a heated discussion one Saturday with one of these neighbors, when they complained, from their sweet little shotgun house - sweetly groomed, of how unsightly the cars were from their kitchen window. They told me that they have called the city and nothing was being done. They spoke of how they felt frustrated because they were retiring in 2 years and they were feeling this new house they bought in this neighborhood would not yield the retirement funds because of the poorer (i.e: unspoken and always alluded to in this neighborhood - our planetary Black neighbors and how they keep their properties which are close to these upset neighbors homes).

{I believe I wrote about this encounter in a previous blog posting, as I became very reactive emotionally during this conversation -- as I witness so much injustice and poverty in this city and the only thing this neighbor had bothering them, was how and what another neighbor was keeping on or near their property how it looked aesthetically from their window. I later apologized for the emotion - not for the content}. My neighbors could not contain their frustration at having to see from their windows unsightly (to them) cars in a post-Katrina New Orleans in a neighborhood which had little to no flooding (this neighborhood is one of 2 areas that sits 14' above flood level - the other neighborhood? Why the French Quarter but of course.)

Another neighbor, with the same visual view {I too have this same view sans the fence} immediately put up a fence when they moved in, "so that they would not have to 'see'," from their windows, our neighbors house which was hit by the tornado in February of o7 and has not been repaired yet, nor the 'unsightly' vehicle. Within a week of moving into this neighborhood, this new White planetary neighbor told me {before they found out I was not a racist like themselves} "that people like that (lower income Black New Orleanian neighbors) are bringing down the property values of this neighborhood and they couldn't stand to look at it." So they put up a fence. That is when the title for this post first originally came to me "THERE'S A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN", I kept thinking it after our conversation and finally wrote it down and promptly forgot what I was being given insight into!!!!

This neighbor spoke of how they were going to call the city on their neighbor to have the vehicle, the "eyesore" removed from their line of vision out their window. I spoke to them about the hardship that I knew of in general terms related to the vehicles and house, hoping to help them overstand the situation and what they were seeing may indicate a symptom of hardship.

This neighbors response to my explanation, shocked me at the time in regards to the intensity of their hatred, intolerance, and naked racism. I remember saying to them, "I didn't know that they had (redneck-racists) that come from the Northern West Coast of the US." And this person laughed and proudly admitted they were. I, naively, even though shocked, went into denial that someone could really feel or be this way in their personality. Later this persons racial hatreds would be acted upon me after I was seen by this person and their partner, with a close friend who is of African decent.

The introduction of a inter-racial relationship into this neighborhood and the people in my immediate proximity - their naked reactions, {from both my Black and White planetary brothers and sisters} did not stop there. Blessedly, since that time another inter-racial planetary couple with children, have become a part of the neighborhood. Those I considered one~with anti-racism in my neighborhood have displayed in their manner and eyes, when meeting my friend and I together, ingrained racism, which I assume, resides unconsciously in their subconsciousness.


"People who call pacifists weak, that's not the case. Actually you go into confrontation. You confront violent people without weapons and your confrontation draws out their violence as it did in Birmingham with the dogs as it did in South Africa with the dogs.



Back to the abandoned vehicle stickers. A neighbor of mine who was out on the street with me at the time that the UNMARKED pickup truck {is there a shortage of police cars? - this is police business - both officers wore blues and the Sargent had 2 gold stripes on his right arm and something on his collar. Perhaps I am wrong, but I believe the parking officers have a different uniform}. - cruised and scanned the cars, walked down and asked the officers what brought them to the neighborhood. He was told and repeated to me, that a neighbor had called and complained about the abandoned cars .

The irony:

The "unsightly vehicles" that both of these neighbors cannot bear to look upon? Well, those vehicles were not even touched. I called this neighbor this morning, whose vehicles have been sitting on their property whilst they try to rebuild 2 houses, raise children, and work full time - so that they would have an opportunity to move the vehicles without adding further financial hardship to an already difficult post-tornado and Katrina/Rita life. (I did not speak to this neighbor before this about these neighbors and what they wanted to do because I believed this was gossip. Until these neighbors took action it was gossip).


For goodness sake, will they hear, will white people hear what we are trying to say? Please, all we are asking you to do is to recognize that we are humans, too.

Desmond Tutu


Whomever of my 2 White planetary neighbors that called the city {and both told me they had called before this incident yesterday - one of them was frustrated because the city was not acting fast enough} they called to complain and bring focused hardships {eventually something different could have happned for all involved - perhaps they were a paycheck away - perhaps they have a bad habit of ignoring tickets and karmic justice was on it's way} - but to call the city on your neighbors because they could not bear to look upon the site of 2 old vehicles on private property - may have brought undue hardship upon 4 other neighbors who are struggling enough not to be able to afford to keep up with the US White culture of the "Jones's" moving into their neighborhoods post-Katrina and expecting everyone else (including those who have lived here for generations and are part of a rich, historical Black New Orleanian culture) to live up to their living standards so that their investment will increase in value. Keeping up with the "Jone's" in reverse - keep up to our standards our we will block you out - lock you out - push you out - charge you out - keep you out. Same as it ever was...

And those "unsightly vehicles" are still sitting there...


A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.


This is "drama" conflict - and is a part of an ongoing problem in this neighborhood which I believe whose roots can be found in those with lot's $ money $, who are attempting/forcing this neighborhood into a nice little (predominately Caucasian) enclave for Tulane & Loyola students and professors. I watch as my planetary Black neighbors who have lived here for years, generations, are being systemically "pushed out" - "block busted out" and "getting charged out of the Big Easy"' often through outrageous rent increases and the 'condo-izing' of once affordable apartments/housing.

Be nice to the whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.
Desmond Tutu

I perceive the forced gentrification of my neighborhood as one of the root causes of racial tension, conflict, drama, and worst of all, undue hardship on those who are already struggling to keep their heads above water now financially, in a still ravaged, in way too many areas of Post-Katrina New Orleans. I grieve as I watch the closing what I perceive to be a closing chapter of a rich cultural New Orleanian heritage and generations of pride and community in the NAME OF THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR & PROPERTY VALUES.

(Now add to this mix hundreds of thousands of people suffering from PTSD from one of the greatest national disasters in our history and the psychological impact of this trauma AND the lack of response and help for days on end, especially in response to the Black New Orleanian community's sufferings. Now three years on add to the mix the lack of psychological processing/counseling or for some, deep spiritual counseling {seeking or receiving} and help available post-Katrina and the levee failure flooding ...)

My heart is sickened by what I am witnessing. I feel my powerlessness as I watch the worst aspects of my White European culture being acted out locally through those who are a continuation of a consciousness and belief system that supports the belief in the superiority of MONEY and POWER over COMMUNITY and FAMILY and the false superiority of one race and even within the races, one group of human beings over another! Sometimes humans can be such idiots. Excuse my frustration at our collective idiocy.

It is so inanely ridiculous - when as human beings when will we ever collectively wake up to the obvious fact - that WE are ONE PLANETARY FAMILY - LIVING ON ONE PLANET - ONE FAMILY - MANY TRIBES - MANY CULTURES.

Jesus said "forgive them Father for they know not what they do." My race is the extension of my European forebearers who colonized, slaughtered, stole, took land through land grabs, created laws that prevented the original culture from owning their own lands or protecting themselves from their captors unchecked violence, hatreds, racisms and other "ism's" of intolerance and cruelty. My European ancestors have lynched, poisoned through pox infected blankets, burned crosses, created Jim Crow Laws, Separate and Unequal laws, and is now is bombing the the hell out of an Arab nation - Brown planetary brothers and sisters - the nation of Iraq. My race (my planetary tribe by birth) seems to feel on the whole that it has a moral and sometimes religious right to doing to anything they want, by any means necessary, to any other planetary race/nation/culture which gets in their way on their freedom march to MAKING MONEY and POSSESSING LAND.


RELATED POSTINGS {2007-2008}:


"At first I thought the Green Zone phenomenon was unique to the war in Iraq.

Now, after year spent in disaster zones, I realize the Green Zone emerges everywhere the disaster capitalism complex decends; with the same stark partitions between the included and the excluded, the protected and the damned."

--Naomi Klein
Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism


THE NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC HOUSING DEBATE: MY POSITION AS A BLOGGER, VOLUNTEER, AND A 'NEW' RESIDENT OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

PUBLIC HOUSING: THE 'PURGING' OF 'UNDESIRABLE' BLACK NEW ORLEANIAN RESIDENTS POST KATRINA

UPHOLD THE RIGHT OF RETURN FOR PRE KATRINA RESIDENTS

IS RACIAL CLEANSING GOING ON HERE?

OVERHEARD...

"GETTING CHARGED OUT OF THE BIG EASY"

Old-line families plot the future in New Orleans
A reality check from your planetary sister: I write this posting knowing that each time I have previously written postings such as this, I have faced blowback. These backlashes are becoming more violent.

Jah bless and guide. Protection.




This heavy rock was deliberately dropped into my rose bush container.
It was the first incident, the incident I thought was too petty an action to report considering there is so much 'real' violence and crime in this city. If I would have listened to wise guidance at the time and reported what had happened when the next incident happened, perhaps the police would have responded faster to the next incident which was much more violent. {hindsight...20/20}



You must show the world that you abhor fighting.
Desmond Tutu


TO THE NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN AND HIS PARTNER: I dedicate the above quote to you both. My 2 planetary White male neighbors who have been, over the last weeks, systematically destroying my personal property and seeking through passive aggressive behaviours to terrorize me {and I can't stand that word - terrorise - President Bush has desecrated the real meaning of the word. To be terrorized is when someone willfully chooses to act out in passive aggressive overt/covert violent actions which are meant to intimidate, harm, and frighten other beings}.

Last week one of you laughed in my face as you poured more and more lighter fluid on your BBQ grill which minutes before, when I was inside my house, you deliberately and purposely moved from one area of the backyard area, next to my clothing which was on my laundry line, by my back door, drying. How powerful you must have felt as you saw the anxiety and incredidulity in my eyes as I gathered my clothes before being singed by the out of control flames you were feeding. I looked over at you and watched you laugh; and watched you once again continue to add even more lighter fluid as the flames as licked up near my clothing.

Recently you and your partner and a friend, destroyed my personal property - my plants, hosed down my laundry that was drying on the line and then later threw my laundry into the next yard (witnessed by 2 neighbors). One of whom called the police also as it was occurring. 3 calls to the police as it was occuring and when the police arrived 2 hours too late, I was not there to make a report. I knew if I left the situation without me it would lose its energy - the target of the agression was gone - and I was traumatized. When I saw the police were not coming in the first hour of this behaviour, and after 3 calls - I fled to my friends house for safety. I was told by the police the next day when I went down to the station, after I could not find my laundry and belongings, that I had left the scene and everything was quiet when they had arrived the night before. {I checked the trash cans all around our neighboring perimeters and could not find my belongings anywhere or in any of the trash cans} I briefly photographed between one of the pauses of unbridled rage and rampage, thinking in daylight I will collect all my belongings then. The next morning everything was gone so there was no proof of the crime. That evening you threw away my laundry, my porch table, my watering can, destroyed some of my plants that I had planned to give away as gifts to people rebuilding (which you knew) and other belongings I once kept out back of my apartment which abuts yours. Worst of all - you created and invited in a vibration of darkness and menance in what I used to lovingly call my sacred grove - my sacred space in the sun. These are your winnings.

Eventually, through non-violent resistance, I will OVERCOME your hate. Yeah, you might be creating a temporary situation of anxiety for me within and around my sanctuary (home) through your ongoing actions. You may have destroyed my clothing and property; you may be aligned with others who share your racist values and hatred who do not condemn you; even those neighbors who are Black planetary brothers and sisters who do not know your hearts but come to your door thinking you are their friends, as you both come across as 2 very personable and likeable fellows - I even told the police this when I reported the incident. Your actions may leave you feeling even stronger in your outrageous behaviours and violent actions. You may have alluded the police when you were reported by neighbors and my self, as you committed these "UNPROVABLE" acts of violence. You may think because you continue to get away with terrorizing me that you are immune to the law. Perhaps the laws of man - but you are not immune to the laws of Karma and the laws of the Divine Consciousness.




I choose to walk the path of non-violent resistance.
(admittedly anxious of your violence and your ongoing ability to get away with it. AND I will not react or act out in measure. I will trust in the power of the Light and Jah's protection no matter what you destroy of my personal property and inner sense of security, I choose to walk the path of non-violent resistance).


LIGHT and LOVE will overcome.




The nonviolent resister accepts suffering without retaliating; accepts violence, but never commits it.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.


NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE: (adapted from) PEACE TO ALL BEINGS - MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR



From his deep studies of Gandhi and his own experience, Martin Luther King, Jr. developed a list of six facts to help people understand nonviolent resistance and join with him in his vision.

King’s words are as insightful and thought provoking today as they were when he wrote them:

1. Nonviolent resistance is not for cowards. It is not a quiet, passive acceptance of evil. One is passive and nonviolent physically, but very active spiritually, always seeking ways to persuade the opponent of advantages to the way of love, cooperation, and peace.

2. The goal is not to defeat or humiliate the opponent but rather to win him or her over to understanding new ways to create cooperation and community.

3. The nonviolent resister attacks the forces of evil, not the people who are engaged in injustice. AS King said in Montgomery, We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.”

4. The nonviolent resister accepts suffering without retaliating; accepts violence, but never commits it.

Gandhi said, “Rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood.” Gandhi and King both understood that suffering by activists had the mysterious power of converting opponents who would otherwise refuse to listen.

5. In nonviolent resistance, one learns to avoid physical violence toward others and also learns to love the opponents with “agape” or unconditional love - which is love given not for what one will receive in return, but for the sake of love alone. It is God flowing through the human heart. Agape is ahimsa. “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate,” said King.

6. Nonviolent resistance is based on the belief that the universe is just. There is God or a creative force that is moving us toward universal love and wholeness continually. Therefore, all our work for justice will bear fruit - the fruit of love, peace, and justice for all beings everywhere.”



Nonviolent Resistance
Adapted from Peace to All Beings,
by Judy Carman (Lantern Books, 2003).
posted by Annie B. Bond Nov 6, 2002 10:04 am
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/Martin-Luther-King-six-facts.html



One Love.
(with no asterisks*)




Volume 37, Number 11
Friday, November 11, 2005


What urban myths say about Americans

"Gossip," misinformation led to reports of New Orleans in chaos

By PATRICIA DONOVAN
Contributing Editor

It is now evident that the reports of child murder, rape, widespread looting, snipers and chaos resulting from the total breakdown of moral and legal order in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina were enormously exaggerated if true at all.

Robert Granfield, UB professor of sociology, notes that although most accounts of criminal mayhem reported by government officials and press alike never actually occurred, the stories tell us much about the American psyche, what Americans believe about the poor and minorities, and what they expect in a time of disaster. Such beliefs, he says, have dangerous consequences.

"Stories of snipers, child murder, rape, rampant looting and general social and moral chaos had little to do with reality," he says, "but arose out of gossip and misinformation."

Granfield notes that often a single incident was reported to the press and public by so many onlookers and officials that it was mistaken for several incidents of the same kind.

"The stories were generalized and then typified," he adds. "Reporters had neither the time nor the ability to investigate these claims, and so repeated them as facts. One gunshot or drowning or stolen television became 10, and 10 became 100. Hungry people taking bread off shelves were generalized into 'massive looting' and then typified as the rule, not the exception," he says.

Why were these unverified reports so readily repeated?

"News programs and newspapers rely on violence and drama to fill pages and air time," Granfield reminds us. "This addicts the public to hyper-inflated drama. News organizations that rely on these dramas to sell themselves to their addicted audience are less likely to attempt to disprove them before they report it," Granfield says.

"The fact is, however, that in the U.S., crimes against person and property are the lowest since 1973. The public, constantly exposed to lurid news stories of child murder, bombings, rapes and other kinds of violence, is not aware of the declining crime rate. Many apparently believe that we're just one police department or one National Guard unit away from anarchy," Granfield says.

"That's one reason we could believe the reports out of New Orleans of widespread chaos and immoral behavior, although the vast, vast majority of people exhibited uncommon courage, kindness, cooperation and generosity, despite their own terror and losses."

And Americans believed them, says Granfield, because the alleged perpetrators were those to whom they attribute moral lassitude, lack of self-control and criminal nature—the urban minority poor. "The concepts of 'crime' and 'criminals' are socially constructed and independent of actual crime rates or perpetrators. What we believe about crime is based on expectation, our general trust in the human desire for order and assumptions about others."

"Our assumptions about poor minority members permitted us to believe that these people—not people 'like us' but those with whom we do not identify—have no control over themselves, and so their presumed 'dark natures' ruled the day," he says.

So the fact that so many Americans believed reports of chaos says more about them than about the supposed "disaster criminals."

"It indicates that we don't trust other people to behave decently in a crisis, that we are afraid that without the usual administrators of law and order, we have total chaos," he says, "although history does not bear this out.

"It is dangerous for us to trust news stories that support our assumptions without investigation," Granfield says.

"It leaves us ignorant, promotes racial and ethnic distrust, and supports the idea that a military buildup among civilians—especially 'those' civilians—is necessary to maintain social control in America 'just in case' something disastrous occurs."

"In fact," he says, "the majority of the chaos and documented immoral behavior arose not out of the population, but out of a failure of governance. It was marked by a breakdown in local, state and federal government communications and emergency preparedness, and earlier political negligence that left the infrastructure open to ruin. Hundreds of public servants abandoned police and prison posts, leaving their helpless charges to fend for themselves, and then there was the police department of the town of Gretna who lined up to turn back exhausted and frightened New Orleans refugees by shooting over their heads."

"Official hysteria reigned, the facts were misrepresented, the press could not investigate and reported the worst, which in turn supported public assumptions about that population. We were left with an 'idea' of the New Orleans disaster that, now, as the facts continue to come out, is as shocking and shameful as the behavior we assumed to be true."



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