"If the people don't stand up and step up to the plate on this, the government has no interest [in helping us] get back to our homes."
"There will be very black people in New Orleans if they can design it. There will be a number of blacks in concentration camp-style living conditions around the country. . . . Long term we've got to talk about fundamental change."
The quotes above are from guests on Margaret Prescod's Sojourner Truth on KPFK. I planned to spend the day listening to Joan Baez's Bowery Songs nonstop but I saw Ruth's flare she sent up over at The Common Ills and I'm glad I did. Dak-Ho and Toni listened with me.
This was a really important radio broadcast. If you were in the area, like me, you could listen with just your radio. But I'm hoping that some people listened online because this is something we need to hear.
Race discussions make people nervous. You hear a lot of people talk about how class issues can't be addressed and that's true. Mainly because our "speakers" usually don't have the guts to face the attacks from the right. But when race is brought up, there's a lot of pooh-pahing if you're not of the race involved. The mainstream media ignores it because we're not supposed to have race problems anymore, the Civil Rights movement was supposed to have ended all of that.
That's the argument. That's not the reality.
I think we avoid the reality for a number of reasons. The most noble one is that we don't want to take anything away from that movement which accomplished so much. But it wasn't the end of the struggle and pretending that it was is why attacks on affirmative action and other programs can take root. The attacks come out of the echo chamber of the right. But they succeed, in part, because we don't like, as a country, to talk about race.
We need to talk about it.
The class war that Paul Krugman documents repeatedly in his writing succeeds in part because White America convinces itself that Black America is getting some easy break. Pitting the two races against one another allows Whites in low income and poverty to avoid acknowledging the reality of the economic inequality.
But racism, added with economic inequality, is another factor and we really need to address it.
We need to have a dialogue and John Edwards' "Two Americas" can be a start but the dialogue needs to go beyond that and acknowledge the economic inequalities that all races face is very real but to also address the added inequalities that come into the equation due to race.
I'm not sure how much I'm getting across here. But I'll leave it with this, racism was not conquered by the Civil Rights movement. It was a step up the ladder. But it's a big ladder and being on the lower rungs may be better than not even having a spot on the ladder, but it's by no means equality.
I'm going to be working on my review of Joan Baez's Bowery Songs tonight and tomorrow. I hope to have it completed before the end of the week and up at The Common Ills for you to read. But, whether you heard Sojourner Truth or not, I hope you'll think about the issues. Ruth sent up a flare and as a member of the community, I responded. I hope you'll do your part as well.