The Red Cross: the New KKK?
This past Friday, I attended a briefing at the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, involving a new leadership series inquiring into the Government's slow response to victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Thank God, I missed most of the pontificating speeches alluding to the Bush Administration's overt racism in their response to the victims, not to mention their egregious incompetence ("Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job...").
What haunted me was the voices of those who were of color, but not African-American, and yet, the African-American woman on the panel, spoke powerfully about the complicity of FEMA and the Red Cross teaming up to engage in that egregious, pitiful response to those who were literally being swept out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Ruby Campbell told us that when supplies were brought into Mississippi, FEMA and the Red Cross bypassed East Biloxi (where the African-Americans lived) on their way to providing aid to the more white, affluent areas of Biloxi (can you say Trent Lott's neighborhood?). No suprise there; FEMA was the bunch who left people on their own throughout the whole mess, anyway.
No, what caught my attention was the plight of a Cuban immigrant, Nilo Cervantes, who is in this country legally, and should be entitled to the right of being rescued and restored since, as a result of Katrina, he lost his job, and since he had no paycheck coming in, he was evicted from his apartment. But the nasty, awful truth of this story is Mr. Cervantes is currently living in a tent that's provided by the Pass Road Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi, and not in a shelter provided by the Red Cross. Why is that?
Mr. Cervantes told the panel and audience that because he's not a natural-born American, although a legal immigrant, the Red Cross wasn't going to provide him any assistance whatsoever. He was told that the assistance was for "U. S. Born Citizens". Now, you can pick up your jaw off the floor.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is George Bush's America - where the Red Cross can now decide, based upon one's citizenship, whether or not they will get help. And since Ms. Campbell told us that FEMA reimburses the Red Cross for disaster relief, there is a sneaking suspicion that FEMA may be directing who gets disaster assistance. Or worse, a charitable organization is now deciding who gets help - based on nationality or ethinicity. You may as well say that the Red Cross consists of those wearing white hoods; the only difference is a red cross differentiates them from the Klan.
Mr. Cervantes said that FEMA nor the Red Cross has provided him any help. He is living in cold, damp quarters and he said he's sick and coughing a great deal (probably disentery, or worse) as a result of the Red Cross's negligence.
Now, we need to speak with our money. I'm urging everyone not to give the Red Cross another dime until they rescind this discriminatory policy(if there is an actual policy and not a few bigots on the payroll), and vow to help victims of these hurricanes regardless of class, race, nationality, disability, age, marital status, or any other factor that would facilitate this organization's tendency to now pick and choose who they are going to help in times of need.
Because in the next disaster, you might be the survivor who the Red Cross may decide to take a pass on. And since Bush just nominated another whackjob to the Supreme Court who has a history of axeing Civil Rights, what the Red Cross did to Nilo Cervantes may well become legal in the next few years.