Katrina and Race

Katrina has sparked a subject that I really do not like discussing. Along with other subjects like religion and politics, they seem to divide people instead of uniting them. I really dislike any kind of subject that ends up making people draw lines in the sand instead of erasing them. I have read many articles that give all kind of opinions in all kinds of subjects related to tragedy that Katrina has become. I recommend that you read this article in its entirety but if you don’t have the time, I will try to highlight here what really touched me about it.

“I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren’t just abandoned during the hurricane,” Sen. Barack Obama said last week on the floor of the Senate. “They were abandoned long ago—to murder and mayhem in the streets, to substandard schools, to dilapidated housing, to inadequate health care, to a pervasive sense of hopelessness.”

If you don’t know who Barak Obama is please take note, we might be witnessing the beginning of the political career of the first Black president (even though he is actually mixed). He is a senator from Illinois that is not just smart but also very human in his delivery. I have seen him speak a couple of times and he does amaze me. He has been very eloquent through the Katrina incident and has been able to deliver the message that Kanye West made look like a 3rd graders rant. The article talks about how inequality and poverty are in the raise in our country and how it took this disaster for a lot of people to take another look at images that we only attached to third world countries.

The article also digs deeper into the race subject in an easy to understand way.

Harvard’s Loury argued in a 2002 book, “The Anatomy of Racial Inequality,” that it’s this stereotyping and “racial stigma,” more than overt racism, that helps hold blacks in poverty. Loury explains a destructive cycle of “self-reinforcing stereotypes” at school and work. A white employer, for instance, may make a judgment based on prior experience that the young black men he hires are likely to be absent or late for work. So he supervises them more closely. Resenting the scrutiny, the African-Americans figure that they’re being disrespected for no good reason, so they might as well act out, which in turn reinforces their boss’s stereotype. Everybody goes away angry.

Such problems are often less about race than class, which has become a huge factor within the black community, too. It’s hard for studious young African-Americans to brave the taunts that they’re “acting white.” The only answer to that is a redoubled effort within the black community to respect academic achievement and a commitment by white institutions to use affirmative action not just for middle-class minorities but for the poor it was originally designed to help.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been accused of “acting white” by Black or Hispanic people. I have even been called a sell out because I try to speak proper English and feel like getting dressed in a suit and tie is a good thing. I have experienced racism and I have argued with people before that tell me that it was just a misunderstanding or that it was not a case of racism in one way or another. Michigan, believe it or not has treated me pretty good. The city I live in, Midland has been very kind to me and I have only experienced a few incidents. I have however experienced racism in many levels back in Chicago and you would think that the big city would be a little less racist but it is not the case.

Whether you agree or disagree by what it is said in this article is not the issue. We need to face the reality that we have people suffering in our own back yard. It is sad that we live in a country that is letting so many bad things happen, I hope we can stop playing babysitter to the world and start being a parent to our own country.

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8 Responses to Katrina and Race

  1. Great entry! I myself have been accused of “acting White”. Whatever that means. Perhaps the big words thrown around in daily conversations or in my writing. But then again, that’s a result of being an avid reader, so in a sense you grasp a deeper understanding of the English language and how to articulate yourself in a more sphosticated manner.

  2. I’m crying because I’m furious!

    People who do not live in New Orleans and know nothing of what’s been going on there pre-Katrina are publishing lies. Much of what has been published is nothing more than rhetoric. Many lies have been published about white people being rescued over blacks. Many lies have been published about the reasons many didn’t evacuate. It wasn’t all about finances whether a person was black, white or aged. Much of it was due to lack of concern because New Orleans has been dodging the bullet for so many years. They simply didn’t take it seriously. Many survived Betsy and thought they would survive Katrina.

    The black/white issue makes me furious. How dare anyone use the Katrina tragedy to spout racism BS. Mr. Man was born and raised in New Orleans. Mr. Man is black, was born in the ghetto and rose above the misfortune of his circumstances as well did all of his EIGHT brothers and sisters. Two of his brothers were caught in the aftermath of Katrina because they just didn’t take it seriously but were rescued. The first night we stayed in a Red Cross shelter — it had nothing to do with race or social class. We have lost everything just like a lot of people – black, white, old, young. The mother of Dr. Walter Maestri (Emergency Management Director of Jefferson Parish), a white woman, drowned when she wasn’t rescued.

    Racism is nothing more than ignorance and there are many of us who REFUSE to be deterred by it. Poverty knows no color and neither does compassion and humanity!!! Don’t believe everything you read.

  3. It makes me sad too, really. Just as it makes me sad that there are also religius nuts out there using Katrina to justify anit-gay sentiments. All of them are missing the real tragedy: that people are suffering, and they are doing so now, regardless of age, creed, gender, politics or faith. Good artivle Logtar, and I wish you the best.

  4. You know, I’m actually doing a post on this type of subject this evening after having watched the movie, Crash, over the weekend. It’s such a blunt illustration of how people of all races and religions have the ability to be racist. To me, just to say that you’re supposed to act and dress a certain way is a racist proposition right there — and assuming that you don’t have the capability to make that decision on your own.

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