Labor Day and Katrina

As late as the rest of the world, I started taking in images and information about Katrina yesterday. I'm still processing the extent of the disaster.

I was looking forward all week to counting down to the Labor Day Parade on Monday and to the imminent arrival of a little one in my family. I was talking to my friend Sarah who studies steel pan culture about attending tonight's steel pan contest in Brooklyn.

Now I wonder, how festive can Labor Day be in light of all the sadness and devastation left behind by Katrina? What would Katrina's victims think of floods of people dancing to jolly calypsos as they are flooded by despair and neglect? Mostly, what world is the little one coming into?

Answers to some of these questions seem obvious but others aren't. As sure as life goes on, the trauma of those grappling with disaster will endure...


s said...

Hi Alice!! Sarah here. Great hanging with you on Labor Day. I did jump the fence eventually and jumped up for the last legs of Genesis. Pictures to come, as soon as I can find my camera cord. ;)

So I'm late to the game in replying to this post, but wanted to respond anyhow. I did feel guilty sending out a "let's jump up!" email to my friends in the wake of Kristina. But, this is how I feel -- I think we need to lend our help to relief measures and celebrate our lives in equal measures. I've heard a lot of folks in the past week -- and this is in NO way directed at you, Alice -- saying, "Oh, this is awful. These poor people. Our government isn't doing anything." Well, yeah. It's unfortunate that it has taken a situation of this magnitude to make folks aware of the fact that our system is broken. But, that means that we need -- in the title of the winning NY Pan-o-rama song this year -- "ACTION!" (You like how I brought it back to Caribbean studies, don't you!?) Get up, get out and do something!

Folks are acting like our solemnity (which seems to equate inaction in many minds) somehow will remedy the situation and the fact is it won't. Also -- and forgive me if this sounds harsh -- Katrina's victims are not the only victims of poverty and neglect in the world. I think we are so America-focused sometimes that we forget there are parallel problems across the world that need to be cried over and fought against with the same outrage and vigor. Our lives have not stopped for them.

AND, for the record, helping and celebrating are NOT mutually exclusive. I personally am dancing to soca music all day at the Malcolm X Grassroot Movement's office here in Brooklyn. We are collecting monetary donations, food items, toiletries, clothing, medical supplies and everything else to ship down South to hurricane victims. If you'd like to donate, we are collecting from 11-7 each day, and you can reach us at the office at 718.254.8800. I'll be here with our other volunteers all week. Holler at me.

Sorry for the rant. Best to all!

Anonymous said...

"Now I wonder, how festive can Labor Day be in light of all the sadness and devastation left behind by Katrina?"

"FOUR prominent Haitian bands delivered all the gouyad I needed for the year: "

You definitely lost MOI. Quelle affaire!

Alice B. said...

Hey Anonymous,

Yup, human nature is that complex. And yes, people's moods evolve. Clearly, Sarah had an influence--she makes lots of sense-- but mostly, the day before the parade I ran into two New Orleans musicians who sought refuge at a friend's house in New York and they were looking forward to the parade... I was planning on going anyway but that helped a lot... I would have liked to see more Katrina references at the parade though, especilly on the floats...

Anonymous said...

More refs of Katrina you said, well too bad, I guess my Caribos were more looking toward their yearly yayad fest! enough to last for 1 year according to some;-)
May be someone , somehow should have or could have passed a flyer or 2 around the Pkway and/or set a food collection corner where revelers could have dropped canned goods/water and toiletries ect...A couple of bins from K Mart and away we go!
Then again that would have reduced the required 1 year supply of gouyad time!;-)

Japronika said...

just showin luv...