DID RACE PLAY A PART IN THE NEW ORLEANS DEBACLE?
A young boy walks away with water and army rations distributed by the US National Guard outside the New Orleans Convention Center on September 2. Children traumatized by Hurricane Katrina may face enduring psychological problems, experts say.(AFP/File/Nicholas Kamm)
(AFP/File/NicholasKamm)
I don't think so! I've listened and read lots for the last couple of weeks. On one program, one of the experts, if there is such a thing, said something like, "Because segregation continues to persist, what we have are large pockets of the disenfranchised grouped together." I agree. We saw it in New Orleans.

Although having been to New Orleans dozens of times over the last 30 years, thinking that over half of the city are African Americans and 30% are below the poverty line never entered my mind. However, the first two days of Katrina, the issue of race and poverty overwhelmed everyone who was glued to the television.

Let's face it, there's always unequal opportunities. In New Orleans, the issue isn't race so much as it is class. In our country, class is something we don't talk about. New Orleans, more than any other crisis I've seen, represents the stark reality that we are a country of the haves and the have-nots. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, even in our great country, to understand that to rise out of poverty takes a Herculean effort; and, under any circumstances and along the way, many simply give up.

Katrina evacuees from New Orleans wait in line for food stamps at Camp Edwards in Bourne, Massachusetts September 12, 2005. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless aid shot up by 71,000 last week, the biggest jump in nearly 10 years, as workers displaced by Katrina sought to join the benefit rolls. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi
REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi
I don't think race; however, entered into the equation in New Orleans. With Katrina at best there were miscues; and, at worst, out and out f... ups on how folks in New Orleans were treated. That being said, I still believe that most Americans are reluctant to stare into the face of racial discrimination. It exists; and, in a sense, Katrina reflects at some level, class discrimination.

The poor couldn't leave New Orleans as they didn't have any wheels; and, if they did, they didn't have anywhere to go. Suddenly, we had all these displaced Americans who were mostly black in deplorable circumstances. Our hearts were broken as we saw Americans suffering including little kids with no food and water. We didn't think race. We thought deprivation and horror. And, then, many like myself, felt anger at those who screwed up.

I think this tragedy offers the best opportunity, in a collective way, for America to pull some willing victims out of the cycle of poverty. Let's do it. KT



Chartiable Organizations to Aid Hurricane Katrina Victims
Erika Jones cries and holds her father Malcolm Jones as they listen to Father Harold Roberts to during services at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005 in Biloxi, Miss. Services were held outdoors on the site of the church that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) ShareYourHome.org or 1-888-827-2525
America's Second Harvest or 1-800-344-8070
Network For Good
Humane Society or 1-202-452-1100
Red Cross or 1-800-HELP-NOW
Salvation Army or 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Catholic Charities or 1-800-919-9338
Episcopal Relief & Development or 1-800-334-7626
United Methodist Committee on Relief or 1-800-554-8583
Operation USA or 1-800-678-7255
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Islamic Relief
ICNA Relief
United Jewish Communities
Mercy Corps

Sept 16 2005

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