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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Photo Wednesday 01/20/10 : Super Soverign Edition

The situation in Haiti after last week's devastating earthquake essentially destroyed the capital of Port-au-Prince has barely progressed. Million's are still uncertain where the basics of food and medical care are going to come from despite the nations of the world coming to aid the island. I've learned since last week that some friends of mine are still waiting for word on their families in Haiti, and in one case a friend lost an older relative to a house collapse during the quake.

If you're interested I found this page posted by Google with links to several legit aid agencies helping in the Haitian Earthquake aftermath:

Last week I picked a photo for Wednesday reflecting the national Haitian pride that was on display at last year's West Indian Day parade here in Brooklyn. This week another image from the parade:
West Indian American Day Parade 2009
A quick bit of history, I don't know that anyone has every written about the style trend of wearing a flag as a cape. But I declare this fashion was started by Nueva Yorquinos (Puerto Ricans from New York if you don't know). In the early 90's I'd go to the Puerto Rican Day parade, for a variety of reasons, and that's the first time/place I saw a flag as cape. It was awesome by the way. Not just for the cleverness of mixing nationalism with style points (the Puerto Rican flag with it's triangular end is positioned so coolly at the top of the back when worn as a cape) but for the way the ad hoc accessory evoked ideas of cultural ingenuity, (flag becomes cape) mythic cultural identity especially in our comicbook-hero obsessed american culture where cape equals super powered. In essence that Puerto Rican dude with PR flag-for-cape (and the rest of the "uniform" consisting of then prerequisite sneakers, acid washed jeans and sleeveless white t-shirt) equaled a "Super Rican".

I think it was a great statement and I declare a Puerto Rican did it first.

Since then I've seen the same styling with a number of different flags, most frequently occurring before my eyes at the West Indian Parade, which many don't seem to realize is a pageant of cultural love as much as it's of great food, loud music and occasionally hyper teenagers. One year I noticed a guy wearing the American flag-as-cape. I was surprised, that a young guy, who happened to be brown of skin would even consider adorning his body with the symbol of America, since alot of guys who fit that description in New York, who I'd grown up with would no even think of repping the American flag. But I've seen the American flag-as-cape more often, usually at the West Indian Day Parade and it's clear to me from the photo I took above that the idea of who America is, is changing in the minds of many.

I bring all this up because this seems to me, part of the issue in Haiti as well. The news has reported that many nations including Iceland were on the scene in Haiti before America troops aid and what-have-you arrived.

Certainly sending the military into a destabilized nation is a smart way to begin securing the Haitian capital city and preparing it to take on relief supplies, but why it took so long baffles me. These Chinese rescuers arrived before the US landed and they journeyed from 8,000 miles away, but that story comes from Chinese state media which can be tricky and there is disagreement over reports of their goals. Also couldn't some advanced troops have hitched a ride with the cable news? Obama's people explained they couldn't reach the Haiti president, meanwhile I was watching the Haitian Prez talk on CNN. Huh?!?

I'm also unclear why our military, which is well trained on how to get into a heavily defended country, or even a lightly defended island nation like in the Grenada invasion, yet they couldn't make the 2 hour flight and setup bases in the outskirts of the unpowered island nation of Haiti. I assume there is more going on, I wonder if the Haitian government is worried about which flag becomes dominate in their nation going forward, who real sovereignty will belong to, and I wonder if any of this matters to people dying in Haiti under the crush of all above.

Again if you're interested this page posted by Google has links to several legit aid agencies helping in the Haitian Earthquake aftermath:

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