Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mindfulness and Walking The Walk.

There is a term frequently used in modern Buddhism, called 'mindfulness', which among other things, focuses on being aware of one's own thoughts and actions, as well as their effect, in the moment.
It is often used and developed during meditation.

An expansion of this process is the awareness of one's self as part of a larger whole, community or society. Unless one lives in complete hermitude, it is impossible to NOT have an effect on those around you, at least on some level.

With that in mind, I'd like to offer some observations.

I've recently posted a segment from the documentary, Soul Food, linked here.

The opening line lays it all out....

"There is no better example of racism in the 21st century than the relationship of black people and access to healthy foods."

This is a symptom of a larger picture. Black neighborhoods often remain under developed, becoming home to liquor stores, pawn shops and bodegas, clearly demonstrating that the goal is for inhabitants there to become alcoholics, pawn their possessions, and live off of expensive and unhealthy food choices.

Sure, those communities have a history of liking many of those foods, but white communities have fresh grocery stores competing with fast food, pizza and po-boy shops, rarely relying on gas station munchies for nutrition, and having big box stores for non-food items, where black neighborhoods are more likely limited to Dollar Store crap.

As these 'minority' neighborhoods develop beyond that scope, it is often because monied, whiter parties have followed poorer whites into them, discover the lower housing costs, and move in for the kill, displacing the traditional, generational families who live there, and jacking up housing prices to drive them out. This is the process we call 'gentrification'.

There are, of course, places where these issues are more economic that racial, but the effect is still the same.

As the neighborhoods begin to gentrify, the new developers open more high end outlets, whether it's Whole Foods, high end food courts, or bistro specialty shops, designed for higher income citizens.
Sometimes, these new 'developments' are made using government grants, designed to improve the neighborhoods of poorer Americans, with those grants being manipulated to allow developers to increase the housing value and drive them out (Pres Kabacoff is a master of this).

So when I see white, self declared 'progressives' sitting at the St Roch Market, which was built with money predominantly (2.3 million out of 3.2 spent) ear marked for redeveloping under privileged neighborhoods, decimated by the Federal Flood, and toasting themselves for their 'open mindedness' and ability to be 'color blind', I wonder if they know how full of shit they really are.

It's a parade of mindless white privilege at the very site of black exclusion.

And yes, I've heard the "But black people work there" excuse. How many black people work for New Orleans Building Corporation, who rents that place out at astronomical rates?

It is was most recently run by deputy Mayor Cedric Grant, who, while African American, is also behind the fencing off of areas under the expressway to displace the homeless. Nice.

Before him? "Developer Sean Cummings replaced Ford as executive director under Nagin."

In short, before you praise yourself on your modern progressive attitude, how about a little mindfulness? You may be cheering yourself on the grave of those you claim to protect.