Way Below The Poverty ( and Water ) Line

Way Below The Poverty ( and Water ) Line

Clive Whistle and PNN editors September 3rd, 2005

International Terrorist George Bush People walking aimlessly in the streets. Food preparation on the sidewalk. People pushing shopping carts on the bridges and causeways filled with blankets, bits of clothes and a half-consumed jug of water. Homeless people? Panhandlers? Recyclers? No, survivors of Hurricane Katrina in the ravaged streets of Mississippi, New Orleans and parts of Florida. And of course they are homeless, because they, the very poorest of our US citizenry, barely surviving on underground economies, food stamps, and SSI, on land that was long ago declared unsafe due to its proximity to weak levees, shores, power plants, roads and freeways were always at-risk of losing the only thing they had, the only thing all poor folks have if they have anything at all; day to day subsistence/existence. All we have is our patterns of money collection, our little to-up roof, our broke down beds, barely working cars or bicycles, our few clothes, our chipped dishes, our static-filled TV’s and a little bit better boom boxes, …. And when those things are gone, due to eviction, disaster, emergency or crisis, we have lost it all. It reminds me of my experience with the Northern California Earthquake of 89. When people talk laughingly about where they were, a shudder travels through my body. When that earthquake hit, we had just earned enough in our underground economy street based “job” to pay that months rent in our little Oakland apartment. When that earthquake hit, it meant we had to use the money just to eat cause there was no money to be made on the streets following that disaster, which meant we couldn’t pay the rent and we ended up homeless once again. As us poor folks, barely holding onto our meager bits of nothing, in other parts of the country watch the descimation of our fellow poor folk in the South, we can only hope that if they even survive this disgusting new blow to their already difficult Amerikkan existences they are able to recoup a little modicum of stability/normalcy/peace in the long hard days to come. Or perhaps, like me, through losing everything just one mo time, they will become angry enough to stop trying to just survive, and instead live to resist, the racist, classist system that is locked in place to hold them down. Insider PNN Southern Poverty Report By Clive Whistle/PNN poverty scholar________________________________ This is me, folks, Clive Whistle, PNN roving reporter and poverty scholar, writing from the flooded streets of my beloved hometown of New Orleans. The funny thing for me is I have been homeless on and off in my life, but when I go home, I do mean HOME, to my people, I am housed in heart and soul if not in house. This is true in particular when I go home to my grandmama, who like my editor says, might as well be homeless as she has lived in a ramshackle shack with no decent roof on the edge of town for as long as I can remember, but who lives by the old adage, poor is a state of mind, and from her perspective and the whole community, she is about as housed as one human being can be Now that I finally got public housing in Frisco, I went back ” home” this time to visit and help family even poorer than me like Gramama who is still dwelling in unbelievably substandard housing in New Orleans, with open sewers, tenuous levees and walls that shake when anyone touches them. This kind of Southern poverty is so intense that Peace Corps volunteers train for Africa by “volunteering” in places like New Orleans, Missipippi and Oklahoma. So, I am writing now (through telephonic transcription via PNN staff in Frisco) to let folks no that yes it is very scary here, some of the untold stories, though are the heroes, who in this case are just everyday people, but also a lot of the storefront church pastors who, through daily spiritual guidance and physical help, have been amazing in all the worst scenarios. As well, I am feeling the vibe of people like my PNN editors who are worried that this is just the next Bush/Cheny plan for massive poor people displacement, i.e., they are not letting people stay in New Orleans and they are not promising us any time sooon that we will be able to come back, Bourban Street- ala Disney Corporation. The other untold story which is a heads-up to Leroy and all the folks working on race and disability issues is the way that all disabled people, white and Black, were treated in all this. Unless you had family caring about you – and you were disabled in the floods, you might as well have given up. Several poor ladies in wheel chairs in the Dome were just stashed in dark corners, left to die. I tried to help as many of them as I could, but there was no help, no respect, no sanity, no nothing. Send us your love and prayers, I am still searching for my grammama, but so far no luck. Peace and blessings, Clive Whistle/PNN

Originally posted by Poor News Network, where this was originally posted at http://www.poormagazine.org/index.cfm?L1=news&category=39&story=1599

K. KersplebedebK. KersplebedebK. Kersplebedeb

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