To close out our coverage of Facing Race 2012, here’s the two plenarie sessions from…
by Latoya Peterson I’ve been traveling, so I missed the latest episode of Treme and…
by Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual
HBO’s Treme is growing into an intricate and well-written show! While it lacks the political pizazz of The Wire, it makes up for it by giving us characters we instantly care about — or at least I care about. I think it might yet be a great drama, despite my reservations!
But I have one problem: Davis McAlary (played by Steve Zahn). I hate this guy. I realized why this week.
GET THOSE GENTRIFYING GAYS!
First, let me recount a situation from the last episode, which made me realize my feelings.
Davis has been blasting music from his apartment window into his neighbors’ house, mostly jazz and hip hop. This week, the gay yuppie neighbors confront him about it. “Why are you being so nasty about this? You have a problem with gay people?” Davis says no, he loves gays (see, we’re supposed to like Davis). Why does Davis hate the guppies? It’s a really original argument**: “You moved into the Treme. You tear the place up. You put in your birdcage, your flower gardens and you don’ t have a fucking clue as to where the fuck you are living.”
See, the gays are sill gentrifiers who want to “historically preserve” homes but don’t know anything about the neighborhood whose property rates their raising! “It’s called gentrification. This is the Treme dude! The most musically important black neighborhood in America,” says Davis, as he starts listing artists that lived in the block. He asks the gays: “did you know that?”
“I know all about the Treme,” older gay insists. Wait, is this a different breed of gentrifying gay?
But Davis keeps on listing artists. Finally the gay person rattles off the name of a jazz great too. See, the guppies grew up in New Orleans. “We’re as much New Orleans as you are.” Nuance?
Caught off guard, Davis goes on to accuse the gays of complaining to the cops about his stereo and other music in the ‘hood being too loud.
The gays says they’re innocent: “We have never once called the cops,” the older gay says, believably — and inexplicably — I think.
Davis goes on, he doesn’t believe them. “You live in the Treme. Gotta deal with that shit.” Read the Post Why Do I Hate Steve Zahn’s Davis in ‘Treme’?
by Latoya Peterson
Stiffer stipulations attached to each sentence
Budget cutbacks but increased police presence
And even if you get out of prison still livin
join the other five million under state supervision
This is business, no faces just lines and statistics
from your phone, your zip code, to S-S-I digits
The system break man child and women into figures
Two columns for who is, and who ain’t niggaz
Numbers is hardly real and they never have feelings
but you push too hard, even numbers got limits
Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret:
the million other straws underneath it – it’s all mathematics
—“Mathematics,” Mos Def, Black on Both Sides
Near the beginning of the episode, Davis is in lock up after being harassed by the National Guard. Still, he yelled “Go the fuck back to Fallujah!” and got put in lock up as Toni tries to calm him down. Her grim reminder that the police and the guard are on edge serves as foreshadowing for later events – it is worthwhile to note that Davis is still more or less in one piece after the altercation.
Later on, Antoine is not so fortunate. After singing on the street with Annie and Sonny after his gig at the strip club, he drunkenly stumbles into a police car. The police react swiftly and brutally, kicking Antoine’s horn and punching him in the face. Horrified, Annie and Sonny look on, but cannot protest much for fear of retribution. The SMO squad is especially effective in this portrayal: at this point in the series, a police car in the background of a shot provides a sense of fear and foreboding. None of the characters as of yet have had a positive interaction with the police, which mimics the dynamics in a lot of communities of color – instead of a welcome sight, police presence means something horrible is about to happen -not crime prevention.
The concept of state violence extends further throughout the episode – Ladonna’s struggle to locate her brother within the criminal justice system, and being stymied at every turn also demonstrates the pernicious nature of state control over incarcerated citizens. Law enforcement appears to be unconcerned with who they have in custody and why – only that a prisoner is accounted for.
It’s understood that the police are under pressure – but what about the other citizens? Read the Post “We Get Shit Done to Us:” Economic and State Sponsored Violence in Treme
by Latoya Peterson
The second episode of Treme was full of political references and began building the tension that will push the plot forward.
(Before I get into the analysis, The Times-Picayune has published a second weekly guide to the references in Treme, which is well worth a read.)
The episode opens with local musician Coco Robicheaux reminiscing about the good old days, then pledging his loyalty to Marie Laveau at the radio studio where Davis is broadcasting. After breaking out a live chicken from his bag, Davis nervously gulps “Are we entering some sacrificial realm here?”
Robicheaux replies, “You just play the next cut on the CD.”
Despite the colorful opening, this episode of Treme is fraught with political tension. Toni, the investigator, sits down with other members of law enforcement trying to locate Ladonna’s missing brother, David. The scene is used to explore the issues of prisoner rights post-Katrina. The story explains that many prisoner’s went missing, and their records were destroyed in the storm, meaning they could be free or in lock-up. While one of the law enforcement officers floats the idea that Ladonna’s brother could be “doing Katrina time in East Jesus,” Toni is still hopeful he will be found. The episode also references the fact that poorer parishes in Louisiana may not be so enthusiastic about returning prisoners to NOLA – it would symbolize a loss of FEMA funds, which most cash strapped states desperately need. Toni traces David to another parish, only to disappoint Ladonna and her mother by finding a different David Brooks. Read the Post Treme Observations: “Meet The Boys On The Battlefront”
by Guest Contributor Adrienne K., originally published at Native Appropriations
These men and women call themselves “Indians.” They are members of “tribes,” with names like “Yellow Pocahontas,” “Geronimo Hunters,” and “Flaming Arrows” (a complete list of the tribes is here). They wear over-the-top, elaborate costumes based (very) loosely on American Indian powwow regalia–with headdresses, feathers, and beading (there is a slideshow on nytimes.com that can be found here):
They have an anthem called “Indian Red” whose lyrics include:
Objectively, out of context, this is by-definition cultural appropriation. Imagine if these were white men and women. I should be offended…right? Read the Post Mardi Gras Indians: Can Cultural Appropriation Occur on the Margins?