Obiter Dictum

Woman's virtue is man's greatest invention --- Cornelia Otis Skinner

Tuesday, October 18

I received this in an email so I haven't done the proper vetting to make sure this isn't snopes fodder. But, I'm posting it anyway because its an interesting sentiment, no matter WHO is saying it.

Comments from Maya Angelou

Published September 12, 2005

I'm not mad at Barbara Bush, or Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Or even at U.S. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.).

Maya Angelou says, "That when people show you who they are, believe them the first time".

So, no, I am not mad at them.

Not at the former first lady for suggesting that Hurricane Katrina evacuees living shoulder to shoulder in the Houston Astrodome were now better off than they were living in poverty in New Orleans.

Not at Fox News' conservative talk-show host, who maintains that the lesson poor children should learn from Katrina is that all they have to do is educate themselves and work hard and they will be able to avoid being left behind on the "metaphorical rooftop."

Not at the Republican ! from Baton Rouge, who The Wall Street Journal reported was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public
housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

Despite the public comments, the private ones made in segregated company (by conservatives and liberals) likely have been even more crass and unbelievable.

The hurricane indeed has shed a light. The spin masters in the Bush administration have done a glowing job over the last several years of pretending that America has achieved a colorblind, class-blind society.

Look around you, they say. Look at Condi and Alberto, or Colin and Clarence. All are credits to their race. What inequities? What ghettos? What barrios?

For some time now, the underclass has been kept off camera, rendered invisible, its voices muted.

But now that the hurricane has reminded us that, there are Americans too impoverished to leave their community even when a great storm is hurtling toward them, it's not surprising that many are shocked by it.

Including the compassionate conservatives, who, in scrambling to say something pithy and nice, are speaking off the cuff and unwittingly revealing themselves:
"Almost everyone I have talked to says, "we're going to move to Houston," the former first lady told National Public Radio's "Marketplace." She was referring to the evacuees in the Astrodome.

What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them."

I suppose it takes tragedy to shock us, to reveal us.

Until the E2 nightclub disaster here, many well-meaning Chicagoans weren't aware that the city had its share of segregated nightclubs. In Chicago today, there are still places where African-Americans (and not all poor) go so they don't have to dance around the color line.

I guess I'm not mad about the comments from the elite or the unknowing. Wealthy people get to choose whether they want to understand or deal with poverty. Many have chosen to and have been unfailing advocates for the poor.

What's far more disappointing are those who come from humble beginnings and who now have the king's ear, but have remained silent.

It's as though they've been struck with a form of selective amnesia. They can recall their humble beginnings during, election time or a confirmation hearing, but how soon they forget.

They're the ones who should be explaining to the Bill O'Reillys of the world that, yes, education is key and hard work a necessity.

But this also is true: A Black or Hispanic Ph.D. who tries to hail a cab late at night will probably be profiled just like any other black person.

Maybe someone could explain to Mrs. Bush that being huddled in a stadium not knowing where other family members are and the uncertainty about the future does not translate into an experience that's "working out well for them."

Maybe someone could explain to the Baton Rouge congressman why now isn't the time to be flip about cleaning up public housing and God should be left out of this.

No, I'm not mad at members of the elite. They're merely saying aloud
what they've been thinking.

It just shows us that "the line" and "the spin" can go only so far
before--thank heavens--the spool eventually runs


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