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Things Black Women Can’t Do Without Being Criticized #5945: Be Traumatized by A Natural Disaster

By now we’ve all seen the viral video–a woman named Danielle with her scared kids clinging to her while interviewed by CNN reporter, Rosa Flores. Cold, disheveled, and utterly traumatized, Danielle’s composure finally breaks when the reporter asks her to recount dragging her kids through rushing floodwaters to save them. She lashes out. “People are really breaking down and y’all sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us!” She went on:  “And you really trying to understand with the microphone still in my face! With me shivering cold, with my kids wet! And you’re still putting a microphone in my face!”

 

As someone who was personally impacted by Hurricane Katrina, I recognized those familiar survivors’ tics–the wild eyes, the trembling from fear and cold, the disorientation, frustration and sheer amazement of still being alive. Before she had even said a word on camera, I knew this poor woman was in no condition to be giving live interviews. This woman and her kids had just survived possibly the most terrifying event of their lives. What we witnessed was raw and unfiltered human emotion spilling over after trauma. You’d think that her reaction would be met by understanding and compassion, but she’s a black woman, so nope. She doesn’t get to be human. She doesn’t get to process her trauma. She has to perform respectability.  

 

Social media was merciless.

Here’s a snippet from Facebook:

 

And  a couple on Youtube:

FRUITxN1NJ4
Ungrateful bitch⚡?
I can understand why she felt so frustrated. She shouldn’t have agreed to the interview. The lady was incredibly rude and who would want to help someone so nasty. People were told to evacuate. The lady is taking out her frustrations on the reporter who is letting the rest of us know how dire it is so we can volunteer & donate.

 

I defended Danielle on social media. One guy couldn’t get enough of criticizing her. “Show me someone else that displayed that behavior and I’ll hush mouth,” he said.

 

Too easy, I said. The entire Trump Administration, for example was filled with people paid to answer tough questions from the media who threw tantrums by either hiding in the bushes, or going on profanity-filled tirades. And this was just at a regular day at work. No life-threatening floodwaters threatening to snatch the lives of your children. And who can forget when Cheeto Jesus himself said that he could grab women by the pussy, and still get elected to the presidency?

 

When mediocre white men have meltdowns over regular ass shit, they get elected president. When black women who have literally been through the flood and fire, crack under the pressure of seeing their lives flash before their eyes, they get called ungrateful, ignorant, and selfish. Oftentimes (as was the case in some of the most vicious insults) it’s black men holding black women to such impossible standards.

 

Even in the midst of category 4 hurricanes we are expected to be scared, but deferential–traumatized, but gracious. No one has time to perform all of these unrealistic emotions for you so that “they” can see our humanity. The truth is, Danielle knew in that moment that CNN wasn’t really interested in her as a human being. They were interested in capturing her pain as a vehicle for ratings. But as always, there are people who insist that no matter how cold, wet, scared, and traumatized she was, she should have put on a happy, dignified face for the cameras.

It’s hard enough to be a black woman in general, but being asked to be one on camera on the worst day of your life so that strangers can pick you apart is trash. I hope that Danielle and her family are on the road to recovery. No thanks to the people who are high and dry playing respectability politics on social media, though.

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Five Things Harvey Survivors Can Do From Their Phones

Although we aren’t out of the woods yet, it looks like the heavy rains of Harvey have finally left Houston. As the waters recede and we begin to get a better sense of the damage and loss of life, emotions can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to get a sense of what to do next.

Here are a few hopefully helpful things that you can do to reorient yourself. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it should help get the ball rolling on the long road to recovery.

  1. Contact all of your insurance companies to file claims. If you have homeowner’s insurance, contact your insurer. If you have comprehensive car insurance, contact your insurer. You may have a provision in your policy that allows for 30 days of rental car replacement. Be patient, though. Car rental agencies will be inundated with requests for vehicles, so it may be several days before you get a rental car.
  2. Contact all of your creditors.  Many financial institutions, including mortgage companies, car loan companies, student loan agencies, and credit card companies will restructure loans or give payment forbearances for people who are affected by Harvey.
  3. Contact FEMA for disaster assistance.  If your home has been damaged or destroyed by the storm, visit FEMA’s website  https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ asap to get financial assistance. They can assist with emergency housing and rebuilding/relocation expenses. This is especially important if you or a loved one is elderly or disabled. Again, a little patience is needed here.  The need is often greater than the number of people dispatched to assist.
  4. Update your social media to let friends and family know that you are okay.  This may be obvious, but it was something that I forgot to do as the storm made landfall. I was inundated with phone calls and text messages from family members all over the country who were watching their televisions in horror at the damage and destruction.
  5. Play games, listen to music, or watch YouTube.  In other words, do something to distract yourself from the constant images of people suffering. If you are in the midst of your own hurricane survival, it can be overwhelming to be constantly exposed to such graphic images of the toll the hurricane has taken on the city and its residents.