The question has been posed on Americablog of what were you doing a year ago as Katrina was steaming into the Gulf Coast? I was watching and trying to call my friend, Chris, in New Orleans to see if he was ok. As can be expected, it took me weeks to find him although the Chris network was working so that I knew he was ok, his roommate/ex-boyfriend had left NOLA for one of the Carolinas. He had run off to Thibideaux, LA which was untouched and hunkered down with his mom, siblings and their kids to wait and watch the outcome. When I finally got to him about six weeks later, he was still with his mom, having stood in lines for hours to get housing assistance, food, social security, all the basics. Not a horror story, to be sure. But still a little slice of what this government has wrought.
I love New Orleans. It is a beautiful city and many parts of it have been saved. These are some of the things I know and love about it. It is the first city that had a significant population of free people of color living in it. The first person who sued for the end of segregation, Homer Plessy, is buried in Saint Louis Cemetery #1. Marie Laveau, the voodoo priestess, is buried in the same cemetery. The wax museum in the Quarter has an exhibit of some of the grossest shit I've ever seen. I have a shitload of beads and I have never once lifted my shirt to get some. I believe men have given me beads to keep my shirt on. The architecture is magnificent in the Quarter and in the Garden District and in the Marigny. I am a cemetery person and I have not spent enough time looking at the cemeteries. There is nothing like the first bite of a beignet. There are no women's bathrooms in Lafitte's in Exile, one of the gazillion gay bars there. You can imagine the look on the guy's face who walked in while I was attending to my business there. I have been to restaurants there where I needed translation of the menu and the local dialect. Walking around the Quarter at night, sitting in the Quarter, eating in the Quarter.
So is it wrong to talk about what I love about New Orleans? I don't know. I know it is wrong what happened there. I feel a heaviness in my heart looking at the faces of the people wounded by this. There is a belief in Buddhism that one must bear witness to the tragedy and sorrows of other people in order to lighten their burden. It is important not just today but every day to bear witness to the suffering of the poor, the people of color, the sick, the animals and all those wounded, spiritually and emotionally, in the Gulf Coast. I could not do as good a job as others who have spoken eloquently about their rage. Please go to Shakespeare's Sister for a blogswarm of emotion, truth telling, and Bush ass ripping.
We can't forget our brothers and sisters in the part of the country. If we do, all hope is lost for our humanity. Figure out a way to help.