Monday, April 13, 2020

Southern Charm

That is another anomaly along with the concept of hospitality as frankly living and traveling through the South I saw immense segregation along lines of class, color and religion.  I could not believe how bad it was as it was all masked under this false premise of hospitality which beneath the surface was a raging hate and much of self loathing.

When there are so many rungs on the ladder you assume that once you get to the top of it you are where you need to be and you climb onto the surface of said place and then let others climb aboard or some may stay and build a platform there as the view and stability is just fine but this is not the American Way/Dream/Myth.  We have a roof line and the ladder can take only so many before it can no longer serve and the roof is only so big before it collapses so we better make sure only so many can secure themselves on the top and that number seems to hover around 1% and that is good enough so pull up the ladder and let those who fall fall and they will hit the ground but its not that high right?

Well no it is getting higher as once the roof held millionaires and they became billionaires and in turn they needed a new roof so they cast a new ladder and the ones that were just holding on made sure there was no fucking way anyone was going to cast them off and so it became the new Roman Holiday, the Gladiator kind.  No scooting through the streets with a gorgeous gal along for the ride and meeting all kinds of interesting people to share a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta, no they were like the Jets, who said "stick with your own kind" and that anyone who threatened the gang they would be iced/shivved or shoved off the roof.  Clearly I have been watching way too many old movies, from the classic beauty and original rom coms of the day to the Hitchcock suspense and of course musicals that despite the melody and dance often told of underlying dark themes, Oklahoma anyone? Well they are superior to the ramblings of the crazy dopey Grandpa and his grim little Igor who threatens death around every corner.  Balance in that house is slim to non-existent, Simone Biles could not traverse it with grace.

There is no balance and it is why we all turn to Cuomo who is realizing that some type of rollout is necessary for many reasons, most of veiled in the idea of stir crazy. Yes every corner in lower Manhattan has Police stationed on it.  When I went for my walk and went into Soho and Tribeca I saw none.  I did find parks opened and people in them distancing appropriately and even a bakery open but not much else. Yes I saw the luxury retail houses boarded up anticipating the riots that have yet to occur but note I said yet.   The one thing I did not see which I do see here in Jersey City is the endless looks of suspicion and avoidance as if just looking at you would mean contagion.   They are really afraid here and that is because most of the people are Millennials who are in over their heads in every way with this crisis.   People were out doing whatever they were doing and guess what it is NONE.OF.MY.BUSINESS as long as we keep apart and have no issue that puts either at risk, the whole personal responsibility thing that millennials seem to have problems with and are the loudest SHUT IT DOWN STAY HOME crowd next to old people who well are rightfully scared and then again they all are as Fox News is a perpetual horror house.

I have never liked Millennials and frankly this only continues to validate my feelings about them and I will never give them the respect or acknowledgement they think they deserve after this as they are like wind, it passes over and some blow over and some breeze by and I just keep walking regardless, I just do up my coat more.  That generation has finally given me a free pass from being civil and polite..... to them.

But as I sit here in my home overlooking the harbor and it pours rain I think that it is truly the weather that has stopped any organization or unrest but if the weather gets warmer and the social isolation continues there will be problems. I see it here in my building with complaints about shoes in the hallway, garbage tossed indiscriminately, scooters and children playing in the halls and this is why you don't close parks as you have a type of a prison and that is not a good thing.

And as the South rises, again, the reality is that many of the GOP Governors refused to acknowledge that this virus was serious and they took their cues from the CDG and have vacillated on restrictions and orders to reduce the spread.  They don't like angry IGOR either and frankly Dr. Bix is a scold but she just seems more sane and rational, maybe it the scarves.  She is the one they should send to the South as they have the faux respect for Grammas and the like and that she is a Doctor would be fine as they love titles too.  I met a shitload of "Dr."who earned them from non-secular schools with weak curriculum and even lower standards but they love having that honorarium.

With the virus came facts and truths that the religious right loath as that is science and no you cannot pray it away and so resistance is futile when trying to be rational with the irrational. Poverty and racism is as it always was in the South and you cannot rebrand that truth. And most people live very much on the fringe are at risk and the status quo prefers it that way as it is a much better way to segregate and isolate with money than with whips and chains.

'A perfect storm': poverty and race add to Covid-19 toll in US deep south

Whole families are falling victim as African Americans are hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus pandemic

Oliver Laughland
Sun 12 Apr 2020

Last weekend, at two churches in New Orleans, two pastors read from separate passages of the Bible as they buried four members of the same family. Each had died within days of each other after contracting the novel coronavirus.

At St James Methodist church, a single-storey red-brick in the city’s seventh ward, the Rev Joseph Tilly recited Luke chapter 15 as he mourned Timothy Franklin, 61, and his brothers Anthony, 58, and Herman, 71. “The three prodigal sons,” he told the small, congregation of grieving relatives sitting at a distance from each other, “have gone back to their heavenly father.”

Tilly had taught “the boys” since they were children at Sunday school. “I prayed before the service and God gave me strength,” he said.

The next day, at Ebenezer Baptist, pastor Jermaine Landrum read from Job, chapter 1 as he remembered the brothers’ mother, 86-year-old Antoinette Franklin, a lifelong worshipper at the church who, just a few weeks earlier, had embraced Landrum and thanked him for another Sunday service.

“It was devastating,” said the pastor, reflecting on the counsel he gave to Franklin’s surviving nine children. “Can you imagine losing a mother and three brothers in a matter of days? It’s a tragedy for our community.”
‘A racially disproportionate rate of death has hit America’s poorest region’

Across the city of New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana, in America’s deep south, similar scenes of mourning have played out among hundreds of African American families. Louisiana is among the states hardest-hit by Covid-19, with 755 deaths marking one of the highest per-capita death rates in the country. Seventy per cent of those who have died here are black, despite African Americans making up only 32% of the state population.

This racially disproportionate rate of death has begun to emerge among other states in the deep south, America’s poorest region, where a nexus of intergenerational poverty, a greater prevalence of underlying health conditions, and less access to healthcare are certain to have more pronounced consequences for the black community as the virus proliferates.

“The south has the perfect storm of characteristics to just be a tragic region in terms of the Covid outbreak,” said Thomas LaVeist, dean of public health and tropical medicine at Tulane University.
People walk to a Palm Sunday service at Life Tabernacle church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, despite statewide stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LaVeist pointed to higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease – mostly tied to poverty – among black residents of Louisiana and other former Jim Crow states including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina that make up the deep south. All conditions are suspected of elevating risk of death from Covid-19.

“African Americans not only have higher prevalence of these chronic conditions, but they also, on average, acquire these conditions at younger ages. So when we talk about people over the age of 65 being at increased risk, for African Americans, that age is probably 55, maybe even 50.”

Although the majority of deaths in Louisiana are still those over the age of 70, 31% are aged between 50 and 69, a proportion that is slightly higher than in New York City, the center of America’s Covid-19 outbreak.

The “perfect storm” LaVeist refers to, brews over a region that has almost unanimously – bar Louisiana – declined to expand Medicaid benefits offered by Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, which would enable millions of low-income southerners access to health insurance.

In Alabama, which has seen one of the highest rates of rural hospital closures in America, and where 75% of rural hospitals operate at a financial deficit – partially due to this Republican state’s decision not to expand benefits – healthcare advocates warned the pandemic could lead to a number of hospitals closing at the height of an outbreak due to the financial pressures associated with treating uninsured people.

But, warned Michael Saag, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the lack of benefits expansion here could also stop people from seeking treatment for Covid-19 until it is too late.

“A lot of people who live in poverty wait with an illness until they absolutely have to be seen, so they come in with much more severe symptoms of whatever they’re dealing with.

“It means the people who pick it up are going to typically be late to present [for treatment] and more likely to be hospitalized and therefore potentially more likely to have advanced disease and maybe need intensive care units.”

Alabama has begun to see a surge in cases in recent days with 80 people now dying from the virus – 36% of deaths were African Americans who make up only 26% of the state’s population.

‘Southern states slow to react, preferring to keep economies open’

Adding another layer to a deepening crisis in the south, is the inaction that characterized many state governors’ response to the pandemic just weeks ago, with a number attempting to keep their economies open for as long as possible.

In Georgia, the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, a close ally of Donald Trump, waited until last Thursday to issue a stay-at-home order, far behind his Democratic counterparts in other jurisdictions.

Georgia has released only partial data on the racial breakdown of its Covid-19 deaths, which have surged to 425.

The story is the same in Mississippi, where the Republican governor, Tate Reeves, issued a stay-at-home order just a day before Kemp. Two weeks earlier, as he continued to resist calls to sign the order and as neighbouring Louisiana and its Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, declared a state or emergency – Reeves had written an op-ed in the local press, advocating the power of prayer to combat the virus and advising Mississippians not to panic.

Eighty-two people have died from Covid-19 in the state. The Mississippi department of health has declined to break the numbers down by race.

On the eve of the Easter weekend, with churches across this deeply Christian region mostly closed, the civil rights and moral revival campaigner the Rev William Barber preached a sermon online.

“Take a candle and light it in remembrance of those who have died and are dying unnecessarily,” said Barber, who has focused much of his campaigning in poor communities throughout the south. “Dying because of human negligence. Not what God has done, but, instead, what we haven’t done. Their deaths will not be in vain. Their suffering, not without a witness.”

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