Until the Lions have their historians

I used to have a quote that I used in my signature that said, “Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.” Fortunately, the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have a historian through the International Tribunal on Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

The tribunal was formed to hear testimony by experts and survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After 30 hours of testimony, the preliminary findings are unfortunately not surprising.

Jill Soffiyah Elijah, the Deputy Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and Chief Judge for the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, announced the Tribunal’s preliminary findings “It is our view that the U.S. government has committed crimes against humanity particularly in relation to its failure to maintain functional levees that should have protected the City of New Orleans from flooding; … it was the reckless disregard and, in some instances, negligence of the U.S. government, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans that created the devastation we continue to see today.”

“Elijah also announced that the Tribunal made preliminary findings that the federal, state and local governments are guilty of violating the human rights to life, dignity and recognition of personhood; the right to be free from racial discrimination — especially as it pertains to the actions of law enforcement personnel and vigilantes; the right to return, resettlement and reintegration of internally displaced persons; the right to be free from degrading treatment and punishment; the right to freedom of movement; the right to adequate housing and education; the right to vote and participate in governance and the right to a fair trial; the right to liberty and security of person and the right to equal protection under the law. Both actions and failure to act by the governments had disproportionate devastating impact with respect to race and gender.”

This should make Americans of all creeds sick to their stomach. We all would be remiss if we allowed our anger to subside as we move out of the Hurricane Katrina anniversary season. Regarding my quote, “Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters,” it is important that we put all of our efforts in context. One day, long after we are all gone, our seeds will inquire about Hurricane Katrina and we all know that the government’s official story will reek of supposed and/or willful ignorance in the form of, “We did the best we could.”

Through our oral and written stories, we collectively become the lions that tell the truth of our own stories without the bias of the mainstream media and government officials. When people look back on this time for inspiration, it should be obvious that we fought, spoke truth to power, and loved without ceasing.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.


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2 responses to “Until the Lions have their historians”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Thank you for posting this. Your title has never been truer. I’m feeling the way this is being discussed in terms of both the egregious crimes as well as the environment and circumstances that have a long covert legacy of violence on the people of New Orleans. It reminds me of a question I wrote in a previous comment– how will we address the long covert history and legacy of racism in this country as we face the more overt stories of late with the Jena 6, the torture case in WV, etc. so we don’t just end up right back where we started from? Perhaps this is one step.
    One of the stories that many of us heard in the days after Katrina was that of White Vigilantes terrorizing and murdering folks fleeing for their lives. This was never reported in mainstream media in any depth. As a great service to us all, the tribunal has documented testimony that you can hear at the link below firsthand.

  2. Fatima says :

    Dumi and I recently went to the launch of a self-taught curriculum at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. The curriculum is called “Teaching the Leeves,” and it’s based off of Spike’s film. The panelists at this launch event were Dr. West’s protege Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr. from Princeton, Dr. Gloria Ladsen-Billings from UW Madison, and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, New Orleans City Councilwoman. It was perhaps the greatest panel I have ever heard speak. Oh, Lee Bollinger was there too (he’s the new president of Columbia) but no one was listening to him.

    The curriculum looks alright and can be downloaded at http://www.teachingthelevees.org. Although ironic that it’s funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation…sigh.

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