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January 19, 2006

A tale of two tragedies

So Congress is holding hearings on the so called Sago Mine disaster. 11 white miners died after an explosion in the mine. That's funny, I don't recall any hearings held by Congress when 21 black people, many of them young, perished in a Chicago nightclub fire.

I was listening to the news on WSB 750AM when they mentioned it and my wife and I started talking about it. She thinks that because the miner's families were told they were alive, only later to find out they were actually dead, cast a heavy emotional cloud over the investigation. Maybe that's why Congress is involved. While that may be true, she said something that also rang truer. Black people don't speak up for themselves.

The outcry over the New Orleans tragedy and the voices of average black citizens moved the discussion rapidly to issues of racism and classism. While I don't refute there may have been elements of such isms in place, they fact that our voices were heard and struck a chord with America shows the need for Black America to begin speaking collectively on other issues if we are to be taken seriously.

I blame that primarily on the sorry black "leadership" we have in Congress, euphemistically called the Congressional Black Caucus. CBC is more heavily involved in advocating gay issues than they are issues concerning black citizens. That is until some photo op story happens and they want to look good. Then CBC members are hugging, consoling and looking ever so caring. Why didn't the CBC demand congressional hearings on the Chicago nightclub fire? With all the committees on this and that in Washington, you would think that Jesse Jr. would have thrown his weight around and made something happen. Just like in the case with the owners of the Sago mine,there were ominous signs trouble was on the horizon. A Chicago judge even blocked charges against the owners of the E2 nightclub.
Black people seem conditioned within and without to depend on black leadership (who and whatever that is) to speak up for them. For instance, Ray Nagin and William Jefferson's contribution to the New Orleans debacle was to blame the federal government. In Nagin's case, he made wildeyed claims which actually hampered the efforts to rescue citizens. Both were solution-less and in their view, blame-less. My wife's point was when white people have problems, even people you have never seen or heard before get things moving. Think about it, have you ever heard of a law named after some little murdered or kidnapped black girl?
It was only when ordinary black citizens begin calling attention to the media's reporting disparities between the disappearances of black and white women, that things began to change. Black America can do better when we speak up for ourselves.

2 comments:

vesti said...

Why didn't the CBC demand congressional hearings on the Chicago nightclub fire?

The federal government does not hold jurisdiction over a single local nightclub. However, the MSHA oversees mine safety nationwide.

http://www.msha.gov/

Same thing with Hurrican Katrina ... FEMA and the feds got involved, so it's Congress' purview.

I'm betting that the local authorities who DID have jurisdiction over the nightclub fire have held plenty of hearings.

DL Foster said...

I think it is fairly well known that the government can hold "hearings" on just about whatever they want to hold hearings on. Its supposed to be the job of our elected representatives to ensure issues that affect us get the appropriate attention. Consequently, the CBC is about as useful as a rock at the bottom of the Atlantic.