Only Whites Claim Katrina’s Poor Response is NOT Racist
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)
I have not seen one person of color, anywhere, on any news broadcast, on any TV special, in any print article, even on the streets themselves, saying that the response to Katrina in New Orleans had “nothing to do with race.” The mere fact that the ONLY people saying that are white says it all to me. Last night, I saw the Mayor of Houston whose name is ironically “Mr. White” pooh-poohing the racist part of this wholly. There is something totally obnoxious about this white mayor of Houston, saying it is “divisive” to try to address race in the Katrina response. Indeed, white boy President Bush said that any mention of this massacre in New Orleans being racially driven is merely a “political agenda” put out there by his opponents. I am sure Bush is scrambling to find some black faces to publicly deny the racist part of this, and that is why we have Condi Rice around. For times like these. You can tell just how racist this country is, by how many white men are working round the clock to pooh-pooh what is obvious to the world at this point.
Yesterday morning, Sept. 2, 2005, I went out and wrote “Stop the genocide in New Orleans NOW! Impeach GWBush” in chalk on sidewalks near my house. I found it wildly interesting that as I was writing one of these, a white male in his 20’s came up and said “If you were not a woman, I would beat the sh*t out of you right now.” I said, “Why, for writing this in chalk?” He said “You are so ignorant. You do not even know what genocide is.” I said, “Excuse me sir, I have a degree in political science from the University of Washington and also have successfully passed all my prerequisites in law school, and I am well aware of what the word genocide means.” I quoted the Webster Collegiate Dictionary definition: “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” It was as if steam began coming out his ears at this, he puffed his chest, and began to stand in a physically threatening manner close to me. I said, “You know, I am twice you size. And I can be absolutely crazy if you push me. Just know you may endanger yourself physically if you touch me.” He left with his legs between his tail, but why did a white male want to BEAT ME for saying that?!
I watched this trend continue all day yesterday. White men threatened me with violence ALL DAY yesterday for not giving an inch, calling this a genocide. I took a very large protest sign out to the streets yesterday. It said “No more RACIST and CLASSIST genocide in New Orleans. Impeach Bush Now.” The first bus I got on, a black man immediately said to me “You got that right, sister.” Then as I waited for the next bus, a black delivery man unloading near where I was waiting came up to me and said I was 100% right with my sign. When I got on the bus, I sat down, and an older black man turned around from the seat in front of me and said my sign was right on, and wondered how a white girl like me ended up out there protesting the racism. We talked for quite some time. Then I got off the bus into downtown Seattle.
Sadly, I was the only protester on the Seattle streets yesterday. I began to walk to the Market and a white businessman in his 50’s said “Ma’am, ma’am…” and I kept walking thinking he was going to hassle me. He ran after me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “I just want to thank you for that sign.” That was a good turn around from the morning threats, but it was brief. I got to the Market and a white middle class man in his late 60’s came up to me and said, “You have a lot of nerve. No one is listening to you.” I said, “No, it is old capitalist racist sexist white men that no one is listening to anymore and I think you are defensive because you know that.” He said “You better watch your mouth girl.” I said “There is free speech in America and I will call you a racist capitalist pig to your face again, so there!” Fuming, he threatened to go get cops. I laughed in his face and kept on walking and talking.
Next, I walked along First Avenue thinking maybe someone with a conscience was protesting at the Federal Building. As I walked down First Avenue, a white male cowboy started glaring at me, then walking next to me at my pace, then began berating me for saying this had to do with race. I pretended I did not hear him and kept walking. Sadly, when I got to the Fed Building, I was the only protester. I stood on the street there protesting for a while. Then decided to move to a place with more foot traffic, Westlake Center.
When I got to Westlake Center, it was packed with shoppers. Disgusted, I began saying very loudly, while holding my sign, “Your children are going to ask you what you did to stop the racist genocide of 2005 in New Orleans and you are going to have to tell them you went shopping! Can you live with that?” Black folks walked by with very wide grins as I was screaming this on the corner. Three black teen girls came up and said their aunt had said what I was saying. We talked at length at why this is blatant racism. They wanted to protest. I told them that even one person protesting makes a difference and they could see I was certainly getting a reaction.
As I stood at Westlake, Seattle’s insane Police Department rode up on their little bikes. They walked right up to my face, and one of them, in FULL UNIFORM, ON DUTY, made circles around his ears at me to symbolize that I was “crazy.” And yes, he was white, of course. I no longer am amazed at the gross lack of professionalism in the beater police squad in Seattle. But that seems very inappropriate to me.
As I stood on the corner with my sign, black males and females were coming in a solid stream saying that I was right, thanking me, etc. Yet white male after white male came up to me, pointed to the word “racist” on my sign, and called me crazy, a bitch, and many other slurs. The police stood by monitoring me, ready to arrest at one wrong move. Three men in a row threatened me with violence, and I was getting louder with each for safety. The police moved closer. Then a fourth white man and his wife approached. The police moved within hearing distance, within two feet of us. I knew they were getting ready to arrest me as a public nuisance or to try to put me in some weird psych thing they keep for logical women such as me. But as they leaned in, they heard the white man saying “What the hell is wrong with those men hassling you? You are absolutely right and you have courage.” Ooops, not what the cops wanted to hear. For about 5 minutes, these folks from Canada began to tell me they are teachers, they have to explain this to kids, and it is impossible without bringing in the race and class equation. The police got bored and rode off.
By the time I got home yesterday from my one woman protest about town, I felt absolutely exhausted. I tried to figure out WHY this was so agitating to white men. I cannot believe I am going to be this honest, but I have to say, that my conclusion after yesterday is, that these white men really do WANT genocide, they really do WANT those poor black people in New Orleans dead. They are not even neutral on the subject. They want them DEAD. And they will try to beat and silence anyone who works against that. Is it mere coincidence that not ONE person of color threatened or harassed me yesterday and white male after white male threatened me with violence? How do YOU explain it?
Yesterday, someone wrote me an email claiming I was nuts to apply racism to this lack of response. I wrote back and said, “without knowing you, I can guess with certainty that you are 1) white and 2) male.” This was his response this morning via email: “Kirsten, I am white. I am proud to be white. And I have no idea why you even brought that up. Was it my vocabulary that gave me away? You sound like a racist. I said nothing about your education. I was not referring to you when I talked about education as the key. I was speaking about people in general. You seem to want to make you and race the focus of everything. I was hoping that you actually had something valid to contribute. But it sounds like you are filled with hate. You sound like another one of those who need to blame the entire worlds problems on American white men. Too bad. I tried. Rmartin” Do I even need to add commentary to that? LOL! These white men try to play some patriarchal game, calling me ignorant and uneducated, then when I bust out the reality that I have more “education” than THEY do, they lose their minds and begin calling ME the racist! LOL! I have begun posting this crap on my website at http://resist.ca/~kirstena/pagehatemail.html
Katrina has exposed the racism and classism so prevalent in America today and it has shown it is intentional, is my take on it. Those who defend the racism and classism, or try to deny it aggressively, seem to WANT genocide of people of color and the poor. That is my serious take on it. ONLY WHITES are saying Katrina’s response was not racist. That should say it all. (And I am not saying all whites are denying this racism, I am saying that the only people who do deny it, are white, from my experience so far.) Seeing who is angry when you try to fight racism, often tells you where to begin. Go make some racists mad today!