Thursday, September 22, 2005

WHAT Color Cross?????!!!!!

Or "Who is My Neighbor?

Thanks for the Memory to Ravenwood via It Comes in Pints?

Looks like my days of Volunteer Blogging aren't quite over. But this time, it's in response to someone else's observations about us volunteers, not my own experience.

Apparently, Black leaders in Tennessee are complaining that the Red Cross Shelters and their volunteers aren't black enough.

My immediate, most honest, and candid response to this would probably not merit The Headmistress' approval. I'll try to control myself, HM, but if I fail, please understand why.

I don't want to seem oversensitive, but give what I spent ALL last week doing, I can't begin to tell you how hurt and insulted such statements make me feel.

I mean, really. Do you WANT me to go away and not help just because I'm white? Is that REALLY what you want? Am I SO unclean a Samaritan that you'd have your brothers and sisters go without rather than have them sullied by my lilly white hands? Do you know how incredibly racist you sound?

And not just racist, but ignorant.

Searcy says she tried to open up her community center as a shelter, but could not get approved by the Red Cross. It already had a list of 63 churches and community groups.

Searcy adds, “You know that big headline that we were gonna have six thousand evacuees and the list of shelters in the newspaper were in the suburbs and so the question is: why aren't these in our community?”

Well, her answer is in the very next paragraph:

The Red Cross says it’s because the other groups were already on a pre-approved list. Their facilities had already been checked out, and the volunteers, already trained.
But I could have told her that. You see, the shelter where I worked had only been Red Cross certifed a WEEK before Katrina. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been a shelter.

But Reverend Enoch Fuzz says in times like this, the volunteer corps should be more diverse,
SO GO VOLUNTEER!!!!!!! The training is open to anyone (as the article mentions), and in some cases, such as Houston, where the evacuee populations was huge, the Red Cross is waiving the training requirement. Look, stop cursing the dark and go light a freaking candle! That's what I did. My local Red Cross was absolutely useless in terms of getting me info on volunteer opportunities, so I took matters into my own hands. I talked to a friend in Houston, he offered me a place to say and told me how open to taking ad hoc volunteers the shelters were, I went to my friends and family and church and got support to get there. At least some of the people in question get it:

The Red Cross acknowledges most of it’s volunteers are white, but says training is open to anyone. Since then, Joyce Searcy went through training, and is signing up others.

A number of black churches are helping evacuees on their own even though it isn't through the Red Cross.

Also they are assembling teams of 50 take turns volunteering at the Red Cross shelters.

One other thing about Reverend Fuzz' comment really irked the... well, it irked me :

“Who in Brentwood would know where a black beauty shop or barber shop is?” asks Fuzz.

WHO CARES????? Is that really what you're worried about? Why not worry about who in Brentwood (Or Champion Forest or Little Rock) knows how to navigate the FEMA website or one of the myriad forms required to get people assistance? Who in Brentwood can and is willing to haul in large boxes of donations and hot meals and empty trash and clean #$%&ing TOILETS and haul laundry and sweep and mop and do all of the menial chores associated with running a shelter?

But if you're really concerned, Rev., maybe the people in your community can do what people in Houston did -- the black barber/beauty shop CAME TO THE BLESSED SHELTER!!!!!! That's right, they came to us, they set up shop and provided FREE haircuts ON SITE -- this despite the fact that they were surrounded by all us scary white volunteers!!!!

Well, except for the black volunteers. And the Vietnamese volunteers. And the French Canadian volunteer. And the Japanese American volunteers. And they provided haircuts to the black evacuees and the white evacuees and the Vietnamese evacuees... get the picture?

See, we were all -- volunteers and evacuees, black, white, men women, too busy DOING SOMETHING to worry about whther or not we LOOKED ENOUGH LIKE EACH OTHER!!!!! I made friends there -- black and white, volunteers and evacuees. And I felt close to all of them. I felt like we all gained from one another. When I think about the sense of purpose, the worthwhileness, the joy that I was blessed with for being there, the warmth and inspiration I gleaned from the shelter residence, and the camaraderie I felt for my fellow volunteers, I can honestly say I got as much as I gave. And I'll be thrice-damned if I'll let anyone tell me I'm not entitled to that just because I'm the wrong color.

*sigh* I almost made it without cursing.