Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

St. Bernard Project Gulf Help

I just hung up the phone with my friend Simone, who is busting her hump helping charitable organizations devoted to several causes, and one of those nearest and dearest to her is in New Orleans. The St. Bernard Project works predominantly in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Orleans parishes, and has been responsible for building more homes for Katrina survivors than any other local, national, or international organization. In addition to being devoted to meeting the demand of those still trying to reclaim their lives from a disaster that happened years ago, the ST Bernard Project also focuses on a very important but little talked of side of the community work in regards to the Gulf Oil Spill.

The mental health of residents of the Gulf region is being attentively addressed by St. Bernard Project. They have a mental health center to address all sorts of issues. More than a quarter of residents of New Orleans and the region are estimated to have suffered/still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after Hurricane Katrina, and the uncertainty about the magnitude of the oils spill disaster, combined with loss of livelihood and work, is expected to cause similar PTSD issues. Michelle Many, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Professor in LSU’s Department of Psychiatry, says that, “The recent oil spill has already brought a blow to the prolonged recovery from Katrina, and LSU clinicians report that residents are suffering from re-traumatization.” Shrimpers and fishermen who are predominantly self-employed and without medical insurance, cannot seek service from most mental health providers in the community–except St Bernard Project.

We know about going down to New Orleans (a thing I feel lucky and blessed to do whenever I can) and the larger Gulf region to help with beach cleanup and rehab, help clean oil from sea birds like in the dish detergent commercials, and also just go there on vacation and spend our tourist dollars in a region that is suffering from the absence of visitors…but the gentle care of the emotional health of the amazing people who have been twice-struck by enormous tragedy is truly worth your support.

Donate to support St Bernard Project here, or click here to find out more about volunteering when you are visiting. Just a day of your time can have a powerful impact.

Shame

915227_59731382We interrupt this blog to bring you an opportunity to hang your head in shame for our society.

If this doesn’t piss you off–you’re not awake. Pinch yourself, take a cold shower, and read it again. Pissed now?

If not–I don’t want to know you.

Below is an action alert I truly hope you will act upon from Color of Change, an organization created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help use the Internet to empower and engage black America, looking for ways to combat the ferocious racism still faced in this country in 2009 .

This event just happened in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago–where children of color, in an organized summer camp activity for which they had paid a rental fee,  were made ashamed and kicked out of a pool with an unstated but very firm “Whites Only” rule. Read all the way to the bottom for the club’s somewhat panicked response.

Disgusting and indefensible.

See below–go to the link–take action. This does not represent the world we are committed to, but it does represent how much work we still have to do. Let’s get busy…

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dear friends,

Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, sixty-five children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club their camp had a contract to use. Evidently, the club didn’t know the kids were largely Black.

When the campers entered the pool, White parents took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club’s staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that they would refund their money. When asked why, the club’s leader said the “kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”

A “Whites only” pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club’s actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act. Whether or not any laws were violated, a “Whites only” pool should be something every American condemns.

I’ve just joined ColorOfChange.org in doing exactly that — will you join me, and email your friends and family asking them to do the same? We’re also calling on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:

http://www.colorofchange.org/swim/?id=1463-900654

Obama is President but that doesn’t mean that suddenly all is fine when it comes to race in America. This is a vivid reminder of what we know still lies beneath the surface.

We all know stories like this one — similar incidents play out quietly every day in different communities across the country. The difference in this case is that folks got caught and there was a contract in place that makes for a potentially illegal act.

Standing up now isn’t just about making things right for these kids in Philadelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called the Valley Swim Club). It’s about creating a climate of accountability everywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold them accountable for this incident, it will make others think twice before engaging in this kind of discrimination.

Please join me in condemning the Valley Swim Club’s blatant discrimination and calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether they violated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same.

http://www.colorofchange.org/swim/?id=1463-900654

Thanks.

Here are some links to more info:

“Pool Boots Kids Who Might ‘Change the Complexion,'” NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/90Zyr

“60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black — Speak Out,” Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/GkJTs

“Valley Swim Club: Day Two,” Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09
http://bit.ly/qbpSA

“Section 1981 Summary,” Employment Law Information Network
http://www.elinfonet.com/1981sum.php

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A statement from the club, on their website, which is being overloaded (I do appreciate the tone and tenor of the message. They must be crapping their pants, and if a representative of the club did say the reason was the desire not to change the “complexion” of their facility…they should be).

The Valley Club is deeply troubled by the recent allegations of racism which are completely untrue.

We had originally agreed to invite the camps to use our facility, knowing full well that the children from the camps were from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that we underestimated the capacity of our facilities and realized that we could not accommodate the number of children from these camps. All funds were returned to the camps and we will re-evaluate the issue at a later date to determine whether it can be feasible in the future.

Our Valley Club deplores discrimination in any form, as is evidenced by our multi-ethnic and diverse membership. Whatever comments may or may not have been made by an individual member is an opinion not shared by The Valley Club Board.