The “Katrina” stories, books, articles, started in July. I’ve ignored most.
One, many aren’t about “Katrina” or about the flooding or what survival here was or still is like or has been like. These “stories” are about using NOLA, a natural and unnatural disaster, and flawed policy to assert a point of view, an alleged lesson or benefit or solution found at the expense of human beings, their lives, children, stability and roots. There’s the “success!” story told about charter schools which is mostly bullshit because the story always was bullshit and not about schools or children or education at all—what happened was about busting up unions, weakening public institutions and preventing talk about desegregation, economic justice, distribution of resources, teacher training and pay and why the students with the most needs get the least experienced teachers and shittiest resources. [Side benefit of dismantling public institutions—crumbling the black educated middle class.] And the story on how NOLA has been improved by the destruction of its housing projects. Guess what? We still have crime. And no, the water did not flush away the problem of black people. We are not problems. We are humans. People. Backbones of what make NOLA what it is. There is no NOLA without us.
Two, there is no Katrina Story. And there’s little acknowledgment that to see what happened and is happening requires a collage, that there are multiple recoveries [and not-quite recoveries], not one Success Story. People like their shit simple but there are multiple NOLAs and multiple ways the flooding and the policy disasters after affected those NOLAs. Narrowing the story to the Ninth Ward, charter schools or the opinions of well-off and privileged white folks hides what needs to be said and revealed.
It sucked. It was scary. I do not think that generation of kids will ever recover, and I’m not just talking about the extremes. We were abandoned, used for political reasons, abused for political reasons, blamed, victimized, blamed again then praised for our resilience and will to survive. As if we had some kind of fucking choice. As if our suffering finally makes us Noble.
And all that will end in September. The fury of activity this year is about the magic number 10. A decade. After a decade, some in the US want to think about that terrible thing that happened to us.
For a while.
Then they’ll be done.
And we still live here. And live with the aftermath of the shit we had to go through to do what other people take for granted and assume is natural—go home. Stay home.
I don’t want to play the 10-year game. This was and is my fucking life, not an interlude. Much of this historical moment will be lost—voices, emails, missives, blogs and posts and links; fear, love, desperation, making do, making our way through whatever came, no matter how many times; the children and students lost and left behind so adults could get better jobs, press, cars; the absolute meanness of trying to throw away people, neighborhoods, histories, pasts and futures.
Go ahead and call me a bitch. Better have. And what changed? Not me.