Hurricane Katrina--Four years later, Waiting in the Water video and lyrics

>> Saturday, August 29, 2009

In 2005, I watching on TV, in horror, tens of thousands of people fighting for their lives. But this was no movie or TV drama, it was real life. The set: New Orleans.

Later known as Hurricane Katrina, I can still remember feeling paralyzed watching the television. Not being able to move. I felt helpless. What could I do here in California?

There is a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that says:

Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith. (Muslim)

My hands were two short to box with the Bush Regime, so I spoke out. First, I wrote "Waiting in the Water" a tribute to the survivors of Hurricane Amerikkka (Katrina).

In fact, I performed it the very same day (w/ lyrics in hand) on stage at College of Alameda. A Katrina survivor was there and she told me, "You were there."

I got footage of her speaking that day:

Part I

Katrina Survivor at COA - 1

Katrina Survivor at COA - 2

Then, I helped organize a Katrina event with youth in West Alameda called, Hear, Help and Heal. We raised about $125, but most importantly, we raised the consciousness of the youth and community. In fact, a young man who lives in the Esperanza who is in a polysci class with me at COA this fall asked about some of the performers who came through that night. Four years later.

By that time, I believe I had already recorded "Waiting in the Water" and posted it on my Music Myspace page. The song samples the Negro Spiritual, "Wade in the Water." It is still up. It says it has about 8,600 plays. But that is an understatement because at one point, I took the video down and uploaded another version. It is over 10,000.

I just remembered how I performed this song with a few live bands. Once at the 8th Annual Black Caucus Leadership Conference in Modesto. As well as at Dorsey's Locker and a couple other venues/events where there were bands. I think I performed it once with Hairdoo. Hearing the blues bands playing "Wade in the Water" while performing it is eiree. It is as if I connect with my ancestors who sang the song on their path towards freedom, dreaming for freedom, hoping for freedom, and jumping in the swamp, mississippi, delta, rivers on the path of freedom.

Later, I wrote this article for the SF Bay View with Wanda Sabir in 2006. Journalist Wanda Sabir hosted a Katrina Relief event at La Pena. She asked me to perform this song and I did. This time, however, images of the ravages of Katrina and the lack of response by the Bush Administration and the world played. The article was called Maafa Continues.

MAAFA is a swahili word for great tragedy. The Transatlantic Slave trade is a MAAFA. And Hurricane Katrina (aka Hurricane Amerikkka) is certainly the Black 9/11.

Finally, after performing the song through the Bay Area, California and even Washington, DC, I came home a year later and performed the song at La Pena again for Pam Pam's Harvest Peace Fest. This video below features the second verse of the songwith musical accompaniment. Javier Reyes of Colored Ink helped out on the vocals. It also features Malik Rahim, founder of Common Ground, a Katrina relief group.

Waiting in the Water Video

Below, I've included the original lyrics from 2005. There outline is included, as I planned on uploading it to Hip Hop lyric websites.

Waiting in the Water
By Reginald James

Verse 1
They call it a Hurricane, but I call it a murder, man/
All around the world, people saw and heard the way/
The United States left her own people to perish/
Wet in Ninth Ward, Dry in Jefferson Parish/
Seen hundreds of black bodies, wading in the water/
Waiting for help, just waiting in the water/
Most of Katrina’s victims were young or poor/
National Guard couldn’t save them because they fighting the war/
In Iraq, ain’t it about time we bring them troops back?/
Like Kanye said, “Bush don’t care about Blacks!”/
And I lack the skill, to express how I feel/
Watching human beings being murdered and killed/
By the aftermath, of Mother Nature’s bloodbath/
Her wrath, but my people too strong to just pass/
Away, remember “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday?/
They got some “Strange Fish” floating in N-O-L-A/

Chorus (Wade in the Water plays in background)
Waiting in the Water
Waiting for water, children
Way in New Orleans
Thoughts going come back and haunt us

Verse 2
Verse 2, I’m asking what would you do?/
If you were in the same situation, try to be true/
Could you loot? I know that I would/
Be getting food and water distributing it in the hood/
Wal-Mart, in Aisle 3, that’s me assorting goods/
Getting everything I need from sporting goods/
Helping elderly with inflatable rafts/
Grocery bags for my nephews’ leg in the cast/
I’ve seen mothers crying, sisters and brothers dying/
Media lying while we watching choppers flying/
Over the disaster area surveying the damage/
Instead of taking people food, they taking pictures with cameras/
Not supplying people with their basic needs/
And feeding folks, they jive supplying news live feeds/
They even cared to delivered the tigers from the zoo/
If you were there, do you think they would have saved you?/


Waiting in the Water, we
Waiting in the Water, they
Waiting in the Water, you
Waiting in the Water
Waiting in the Water, I'm
Waiting in the Water,


Verse 3:
Verse 3, now listen closely to me/
Next year I’m at Merritt to be an E-M-T/
So when the big quake come, in an emergency/
I’ll be prepared to care for my family/
O-P-D and Schwarzenegger ain’t gone to your rescue/
Last action Hero and Dubya already left you/
Behind, prepare your soul, body and mind/
The way they left our folks in the South alone, damn! It’s a crime/
To humanity, trying to cope with the insanity/
We need to get land, and stand against vanity/
Profanity, this Bushit government greed/
So please take heed, and follow after my lead/
We need to learn CPR and First A-I-D/
Create an evacuation plan for your community/
This government won’t save you, don’t be deceived/
Just put your faith in G-D, on the last day’s eve/


This government won’t save you, don’t be deceived
In G-d we trust, in the last day’s Eve
If you tell me you still believe the government has our interested in mind
I will tell you that you are naïve, blind, or just out of your mind
Seek and we shall find, a solution,
Together, we can achieve, rebuild and relocate,
But we must relieve in the immediate
Many have come to the Bay and been received
I’m sure some have come, and have been conceived
There are so many, who were not retrieved/
You’ve seen the President was on vacation
Condolezza was shopping and Dick was on Sick leave
So I grieve,
And pray for our people, that they will find peace
After being left for death, our kinfolk bereaved


Beat Plays to Fade

Never Forget



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About This Blog

Insight into my daily regimen. Obviously of a different specimen. Me, myself & I. So fly. Welcome to the Daily Regiment.

This blog is an outlet for me to write about my life experiences. While there will be consistent themes in my writing -- because I am what I project in written form -- the topics will vary from day to day, and post to post.

If you are interested in my formal news reporting, you can visit The Reginald James Report or The Black Hour.

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