Watching the first half of the Spike Lee documentary at a friend’s house, I cried. With both pride and shame. Pride at an indomitable people — whose culture is imitated the world over — who after days of living in a hellhole without medical attention, food and water (I refer here to the Astrodome) with family members dying all around them, rose up singing. Singing “This Little Light of Mine” which is an “old Negro spiritual” as some folks like to call them that is frequently sung at funerals.

I admit I had to break down and cry to witness such bravery under stress.

One of my friends who was watching with me also cried. She has worked in international disaster relief for many years. She said that even during crises in Africa, she had never seen people treated this way by their own government. Worse than animals.

George W. Bush said in his press conference yesterday when asked:

“Is there anything that’s disappointed you about the recovery, the federal response?”

Bush: You know, I was concerned at first about how much Congress and the taxpayers would be willing to appropriate and spend. I think $110 billion is a strong commitment, and I’m pleased with that.

Just so we are clear: $110 billion has been pledged so far for U.S. citizens. Over $300 billion and counting has been spent on Iraq to date. I’m on the same page as Prometheus 6: If I had to choose which Bush-exacerbated disaster I have to pay for, I would probably choose Katrina.

How can our commitment to our own citizens not meet or exceed that to another nation? Are African-Americans worth so much less than other people? That is the question you will soon be seeing in the faces of your Black friends and co-workers. In fact, here’s a fun game you can play. Count how many different emotions you can see on any given Black person’s face as the Katrina anniversary plays out. Grief, rage, bewilderment, fatigue, resolve. The potential list goes on.

While the betrayal of the local, state and federal governments of the Gulf Coast residents is appalling, the failure of minority representative organizations like CORE and the NAACP to advocate effectively for rebuilding and resources is shocking to me. My disappointment in leaders like Jesse Jackson to take strong stands on Katrina and demand greater accountability is high. African-Americans were and continue to be abandoned by those whose charge it is to protect and serve them. It’s a shame.

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