John Legend tells it like it is.

Mad respect for this fellow.

From his blog:

“Regarding Kanye’s comment, I’m proud of his courage to say what was on his mind. It heightened everyone’s awareness of Bush’s failings as a leader. And it may very well be true that Bush doesn’t care much about the Black constituency. We can only speculate as to what’s in his heart and mind regarding Black people, but there certainly is evidence that Bush governs like he cares only about the interests of the rich and powerful. His strategy has clearly been to keep his fervent base (the rich and the cultural conservatives) motivated. So he makes sure the tax cuts and corporate welfare keep coming. And he throws enough symbolic (rather than substantive) bones to the working and middle-class cultural conservatives to keep them motivated. And anyone that falls outside his fervent base, his administration disregards. That includes Black people because he figures that we won’t vote for him anyway, so why waste energy and political capital on us? That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like Black people on a more personal level (“Hell, some of his best cabinet members are Black!”). He’s just doing the math (well, his strategist Karl Rove probably is) and making sure he focuses on a winning strategy, which requires next to no Black votes to keep him in power. In addition, he turns a blind eye to the efforts of Republican foot soldiers to exploit racism and to suppress the votes of urban Blacks who tend to vote Democratic. So, the net result is that his administration governs with no regard for the concerns shared by most of the Black community.

But I think a more precise analysis is that Bush’s policies are decidedly anti-poor and pro-rich. This is more of a class issue than a race issue. I think it’s a mistake when people equate “Black” and “poor” as though they’re interchangeable terms. Being poor and Black have been highly correlated in our nation’s tumultuous history, but they are not the same thing. In New Orleans, the overwhelming majority of the poor are Black and the majority of the Black citizens are poor. But this nation is full of a wide range of Black experiences and the poor come from all colors of the rainbow (though Black & brown are clearly over-represented in that rainbow).

All that being said, I don’t think that I agree that Bush’s slow reaction to the disaster was because a disproportionate number of the un-evacuated victims of Katrina were Black. While there have been many instances of racism in the evacuation process in New Orleans and the surrounding areas and in the reporting about the aftermath, I don’t think Bush’s early inaction was based on his own racism. I think Bush was truly oblivious to the extent of the disaster and the despair that overwhelmed the city. From all of his statements and the reports of his behavior right after the hurricane hit, it is abundantly clear that the President was uninformed as to the suffering that was going on. He has insulated himself from the news (actually he’s proudly announced that he doesn’t read the news!) and anything that disturbs his bubble of ignorance, and it took several days before his staff and the overwhelmingly disturbing images on the news could penetrate his ignorant bliss. Not to mention the fact that his FEMA staff was headed by people that don’t know much of anything about dealing with emergencies. He clearly de-prioritized emergency management as a federal responsibility and it came back to bite everyone in the ass with Katrina. However, simply saying that Bush was uninformed and unprepared rather than racially motivated in this case is not letting him off the hook. On the contrary, it is extremely dangerous and inexcusable for our President to be incompetent in these types of circumstances.”

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