Racism hurricane katrina essay

Free Essay: Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29th, The events that followed would leave the whole nation in shock.
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By Jean Hardisty , Ph. Senior Scholar Jean Hardisty shares her thinking on structural racism engrained in U. While cleaning out stacks of old papers and files, I came across an article I had clipped from the New York Times in November That headline was no surprise. What else would you expect? The Bush Administration is not just neutral on civil rights; it's hostile to them. Evidence includes its attacks on affirmative action, its anti-immigrant policies of round-ups and precipitous deportations, and the domestic anti-Muslim consequences of its "war on terror.

Bush mentioned "racial discrimination" and "inequality. Maybe Bush will experience some disquiet from the fury in response to images of Katrina: poor, mostly Black New Orleanians of all ages lined up to get into the Superdome; elderly, sick people waiting in nursing homes for buses that never came; and people on foot crossing a bridge and then being turned back by the police from the wealthy suburb on the other side. But I fear that he and much of the White public will never understand that those images were more than the result of neglected enforcement of civil rights laws, or the "failure" of the poor to rise above race and class.

They were images of structural racism. This is not an accident. It is the result of white supremacy that is so imbedded in U. Structural racism is not only a failure to serve people equally across race, culture and ethnic origin within private and government entities as well as "third sector" institutions, such as the print, radio and TV media and Hollywood. It is also the predictable consequence of legislation at the federal, state, and local level. As Victor Goode describes it in Colorlines Summer, , "Structural racism is racism underneath and across society, permeating its entire history, culture and institutions.

Our culture, including our education, perpetuates, normalizes and legitimates the effects of racism, while making them invisible to the narrow legal definition of unlawful segregation. In a "colorblind" society, they argue, people should pay no attention at all to race and ethnicity.


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They argue that doing otherwise "belittles" or "insults" people of color by implying that they cannot successfully compete without a hand up. Further, from this perspective, the stigma of being an affirmative action hire will follow them into the workplace, build resentment among White men, and stifle the necessary development of entrepreneurial instincts and practices. But a great deal of attention is paid to race and ethnicity. This attention is not subtle.

It informs virtually every transaction that people of color negotiate in their daily lives. It is hard to name a realm in which it is not predominant - housing, education, medical care, nutrition, access to transportation, and job opportunities, to name a few. We saw how this "discrimination" as Bush described it converged when Katrina hit New Orleans.

Wealthy Whites were on the high ground; people of color and poor Whites were on the low ground: a perfect metaphor for structural racism. We should not imagine that structural racism is only found in the three states affected by Katrina. It pervades the entire country.

Essay on Racism During Hurricane Katrina

The visual images of Katrina would be similar in Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, and other cities where race and poverty reinforce each other and proactive government programs address neither. Why were so many White Americans shocked to see the reality of New Orleans? Would the response have been as botched had a hurricane or earthquake struck Boston or San Francisco? Maybe it would have been. The middle classes, black and white, were able to leave New Orleans before the storm came.

The Truth About Hurricane Katrina - Part 2

The people who couldn't afford to leave, they were on their own — and that about goes for any city in this country. Or did "The Big Easy", fatalistic, frivolous and corrupt, simply get what was coming to it? In other words, was New Orleans — whose lack of preparedness for "the big one" was so brutally exposed by the shambles at the Superdome — as much to blame as the Bush administration? One question followed another. None could be easily answered. Five years on, the hurricane's impact still reverberates in national, as well as local, politics.

With the election in May of Mitch Landrieu, scion of the state's pre-eminent political family, to succeed Nagin, the city has its first white mayor since Mitch's father, Moon, left office in Paradoxically, the emigration of so many poor blacks to places such as Houston and Atlanta may have shifted the politics of both Louisiana and New Orleans to the right.

Nationally too, in a country with a notoriously short attention span, Katrina is not forgotten. The storm was the headline act of the exceptionally severe Atlantic hurricane season of , that first helped to concentrate minds here on global warming. Three years later, the country elected its first black president, in what perhaps was an effort by voters to look beyond the enduring racial discrimination that Katrina had thrown into especially cruel relief. Meanwhile, as they scramble to avoid a potential drubbing from Republicans in the midterm elections now barely two months off, Democrats are once again making the Bush legacy a central issue.

Along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recession and the deficit, the response to Katrina will also surely feature on the charge sheet. Even more fundamentally, one must wonder whether Americans' lack of trust in the Washington establishment — the dominant theme of this political season, so vividly embodied in the Tea Party movement — stems, in part at least, from Katrina.

When a section of the population needed the help of "big government" as rarely before in US history, the federal government establishment failed them. In fact, much that is good has also happened in Katrina's aftermath.

Essays about Hurricane Katrina by Wynton Marsalis and others appear in new book

Fatalism breeds not just inertia but also resilience. Other places, faced with comparable catastrophe, might have simply thrown in the towel. Not, however, New Orleans. But now fatalism has been joined by the demand that after decades of empty talk, the city at last tackles its age-old deficiencies. The truth is that New Orleans was losing population and business clout to places such as Houston and Atlanta well before Katrina struck.

The storm merely accelerated that trend. If the city is serious about long-term recovery, it must do more than merely strengthen levees that crumbled and replace homes that were washed away. The levees, we are told, have been fixed, and, albeit fitfully, the homes are being replaced. Many residential streets in the Lower Ninth Ward have been rebuilt, some with houses on stilts to protect against another inundation. Many, though, have not ben rebuilt. Rapidly they are being reclaimed by Mother Nature, who in the subtropical greenhouse of the Gulf Coast needs no second bidding. Sometimes only a forlorn set of concrete steps protruding from the greenery marks where a house once stood, the paved road in front already pockmarked with clumps of weeds.

Graffiti now covers the abandoned houses that did survive the storm, each bearing a faded waterline showing how high the Katrina flood reached. But not just homes must be replaced. For all its magnetic allure, the city will not reclaim its vanished inhabitants until they are convinced that life will be better than on 27 August And that, above all, means better schools — with the result that New Orleans is now a laboratory for educational experiment closely watched by the US at large. Across the city's poorer neighbourhoods, state-run schools were washed away along with the houses.

These days, the public education system has only half as many students as before the hurricane, a sign of how young families above all decided to make a new life elsewhere. But the system is now based on charter schools — publicly funded institutions that are managed independently, subject to specified performance targets. For now, at least, the experiment seems to be working: according to a report, 59 per cent of students are now in schools that meet state standards, against 28 per cent before the storm.

The scheme's success is crucial. Only the certainty of decent public education will ensure the return of the missing middle-class black families, key to a resurgent New Orleans.

In one area, of course, it already is resurgent. Last February, the city's beloved Saints won the Super Bowl for the first time, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, watched in the US by million people, the largest audience ever for a single television broadcast. In the most romantic fashion possible, the story of the Superdome, squalid shelter of last resort for the victims of Katrina, had come full-circle.

Unnatural Disasters: Thinking about Natural Disasters in a Sociological Way

For a year, the storm had forced the Saints from the city, as the arena was repaired. Now, they had reached the pinnacle of American football. No disrespect to the Indianapolis Colts, but the entire world beyond the state of Indiana was wanting a New Orleans victory. Sporting triumphs, however, are as ephemeral as they are unforgettable. Now, everyone yearns for another comeback, one that would be even more remarkable: the lasting rebirth of the city itself.

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Racism During Hurricane Katrina Essay - Words | Cram

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