Revisiting: Kanye West tells the Tale; Those Who Stayed Behind — September 2, 2015

Revisiting Mr. West in 2005:

Last year Slate ran the back story:

“I remember hearing the words that were coming out of his mouth and looking down at the script and [thinking], ‘this is not—this is not going well,’ ” Frank Radice, the show’s senior producer and musical director, recently told me. Radice then had a second thought. “I remember saying [to someone] ‘it was good TV.’ ”

“…Kaplan says he was in “shell-shock” after the show, and West was nowhere to be found. But he says a trio of the show’s musical performers—Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Harry Connick Jr.—took him aside and said, “I know that you’re feeling like it all got screwed up because of Kanye. But you’re going to be really proud that Kanye did what he did.”

“They said we’ve all been to New Orleans and they said it was terrible what’s going on down there, and the lack of support from the [federal government], and we understand the anger, and you’re going to be happy that that element was in the show,” Kaplan told me. “And they were right. … No disrespect to the president or anyone else, but [Kanye’s] emotion and his honesty and what he had to say, it had to be heard, because those people were not being served.”

“Someone at NBC did not think it was a good moment, though, and cut the Bush line from the West Coast telecast….”

Yesterday, I was revisiting criminality, looting, the city law enforcement’s use of deadly force, and sanctioning black death in the name of control. And while there is no “other side of the story” when police have been given the right to shoot residents and citizens first and ask questions later, it is true black homeowners had a complicated relationship to the situation. Stuck between rising/steady waters  (by September 2, 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers was beginning to plug the major levee breaches like the 17th Street Canal) and disaster circumstances that occasioned some threat of theft–whether for survival or for other reasons–what would you do? Evacuate? Stay? Some of those who remained after the evacuation order was issued by Mayor Ray Nagin on August 28th, remained to protect their homes. And more to consider, for those who stayed–mold, pests, lack of potable water, contaminated sewer water…

The swamp has a long game and it will kill you if fail to respect it.

Fast forward to Louisiana today, to Baton Rouge and rural parishes battered by flood waters:

“Together Baton Rouge, a faith-based nonprofit, said they’ve identified at least 20 flood-damaged homes where the inhabitants never left, never started a demolition and are still being exposed to hazardous mold and the residue of sewer-contaminated flood water. But the group believes that number represents several hundred others in the same situation, who are mostly elderly, and more vulnerable both physically and financially.

“It’s a public health crisis, said Broderick Bagert, a Together Baton Rouge organizer. He said there are still thousands of homes that haven’t been gutted, and he said survey results project that 5 percent of them could have people still living in them. What’s worse, is there hasn’t been a large scale, coordinated effort to identify homeowners who don’t have the help or the resources to gut homes on their own….”

But —

“Bessie said she didn’t want to leave because her door was so swollen that it wouldn’t lock. She was afraid during and after the flood that criminals would raid her home of the valued treasures she and her husband had spent a lifetime to build together.

And of course, after 19 years living in the home without an issue, they never imagined the flood waters could get so high…”

Read the rest:


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