I heard today that two friends of mine, who are members of Pan-Afrikan organizations we work with and who live in Guadeloupe and the US Virgin Islands, have weathered Hurricane Irma and are all right. Still, it’s terrible that they and their Sisters and Brothers in the Caribbean have to endure this kind of disaster, especially with Hurricane Jose coming up next as a Category 4 (at least) and seeing little chance of escape. As the people of Florida scramble to evacuate and hold their collective breath, they can see in the carnage that Irma has already left in its wake that which awaits them if they take this storm lightly and fail to take advantage of the mobility the people of the Caribbean did not have.
One thing that I’ve been hearing is that the effects of this storm in specific areas of the Caribbean could last much longer than those from Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Suddenly the unfortunate people of coastal and southern Texas are looking like they managed to avoid the worst of this hurricane season, even with the disaster they have been forced to endure, with many billions of dollars in property damage and, worse yet, the loss of lives. And it’s really a cruel twist of fate that much worse seems to be happening now in the Caribbean, before we can even catch a breath from Hurricane Harvey.
I’ve heard people talking on television about a total information blackout on some of the islands being battered by Hurricane Irma because of a loss of all communications (some people may not even know that Jose is coming next), perhaps months without even having access to power, and years to come close to fully recovering in the most heavily damaged areas. I also heard, as my friend in Guadeloupe mentioned Thursday, that Antigua and Barbuda were 95% destroyed. At least major parts of Puerto Rico could be without power for up to six months, plus the US territory’s current bankruptcy will make assistance from FEMA difficult. The British Virgin Islands are likely to get some assistance from the United Kingdom and the US Virgin Islands expect some assistance from the US National Guard, but there are others who are not so connected but are just as badly damaged, and they are forced to plead to organizations like the Red Cross for help. Frankly, I don’t know how someone comes back from all this. But a way needs to be found. And we need to begin to develop a way to respond that does not depend on the colonial powers.
All day, as I’ve watched the news reports and done other unrelated chores in my house, I’ve had the same song going through my head: Jamiroquai’s “When You Gonna Learn?” from 1993, which was one of several songs that London-based group did about the coming price to be paid for so-called “modern civilization’s” disregard for the earth’s environment.
Have you heard the news today?
People right across the world
Are pledging they will play the game
Victims of the modern world
Circumstance has brought us here
Armageddon’s come too near
Foresight is the only key
To save our children’s destiny
The consequences are so grave
The hypocrites, we are their slaves
So my friend. to stop the end
On each other we depend.
When that album was released (Jamiroquai’s first), the liner notes warned that if people didn’t wake up in 10 to 20 years, the worst was in store. Well, here we are. And I’m sure that some folks (mainly Climate Change deniers who want to “Drill Baby Drill”) will continue to insist that the occurrence of these multiple superstorms (the first time they’ve ever recorded two Category 4 hurricanes in the same season, and it looks like we actually have three in a row now!) has nothing to do with Climate Change.
Have you heard the news today?
Money’s on the menu at my favorite restaurant
Don’t talk about quantity
There’s no fish left in the sea
Greedy men have slaughtered all the life there ever was
And you’d better play it nature’s way
She will take it all away
Don’t try to tell me you know more than her ’bout right from wrong
You’ve upset the balance man
Done the only thing you can
Now my life is in your hands
While most of us are probably at a loss at this moment as far as what we each can do personally, perhaps some sort of collective response will be able to come from whatever sense of community we can draw from. This is one reason why it’s so important for us to come together in social groups, spiritual groups and community organizations. This is the importance of groups like the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM), the Ujima People’s Progress Party (UPP), Working-Organizing-Making-A-Nation (WOMAN), the Organization of All Afrikan Unity-Black Panther Cadre (OAAU-BPC), the Million Woman March Universal Movement, the World African Diaspora Union (WADU), Reality Speaks/Solvivaz Nation, and of course, the organization I work with, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC). Such organizations provide us with the diversity of ideas while maintaining the unity of purpose that can bring to light solutions to even the most formidable adversaries and catastrophes we may face. Each of them has the capacity to develop important solutions to this current disaster, as they have for so many other challenges we have faced over the years. Imagine what could be accomplished if these organizations are ever able to all work together, in cooperation and coordination with each other? There might be no challenge they could not overcome, perhaps not even this one.
Our Community currently lacks the ability to mount any kind of response to crises that impact us as a people. This is one capacity that we will have to develop. It’s time for our Pan-Afrikan organizations to get to work on devising at least a policy on what we will do to not only ensure our immediate Community is able to survive disasters such as these, but also how we will be able to respond, together, to the immense needs of the people after such a disaster has struck.
Mountain high and river deep,
Wake this world up from its sleep,
Get my Momma on her feet.
The greedy men will fade away,
Mother Earth will have her say,
Know it’s gonna be okay.
I call on all our organizations, especially the one I work with, to get to work on building the spirit of cooperation with each other that will bring us the ability to mount a meaningful response to all the disasters, natural and man-made, that beset the Pan-Afrikan Community. We are disproportionately impacted by these types of disasters, and what we are able to do may become a model for vulnerable communities everywhere.
And for those who are still in the path of these monster storms, STAY SAFE.