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Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina Kaos.

I don't understand the world at the moment and given the way it is, I'm not sure I want to.

I have, as has everyone else, heard a lot about the destruction and devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. Over a few days the news has got more and more disturbing, and the stories make the places seems less and less like the most powerful and richest place on earth.

As ever, when these big news stories hit, as I don't have a TV I miss a lot of the visuals that most people get. I see the front pages of the papers, and the occasional pic online, but I don't see the general scope of pictures which most people do as a matter of course.

So today I was looking at one of the free papers, and saw a series of several photos of how people are trying to survive in New Orleans. The thing that struck me was that in almost every picture, those struggling, fighting for survival, were all black. All. Now, I'd heard over the past few days many descriptions of New Orleans as multicultural, and until a few days ago I didn't know much more about it than that some rather fantastic music came out of it, but the photos I saw weren't representing a multicultural society, they were showing only black people - crying and frightened, about to be shot by the police, and one older black man who was dead in a deckchair. The only people in any of the photos I looked at who were white were the three policemen pointing their guns at a (black) looter.

I couldn't make any sense of this at all. It could be that the photographer was selective in the photographs they took, or that the photographer was in areas where more black evacuees were than white ones, but I wasn't sure. And then I read, in the article accompanying these pictures, that many of those trying to survive in the stadium and similar were the poorer members of the city's community.

Often it was those without cars who found it more difficult to escape with the speed that those who do own cars could. They are reporting that even after they had been advised to leave the city, nobody sent any buses or coaches to help people out. So, the richer people (with cars) could get out and those with less money (without cars) couldn't.

And what does that say to us? Well, to me it says that yet again poorer people have it harder in almost every way, and not always to do with not being able to afford obvious things like clothes or technology. It says that yet again the black communities live in more poverty than white communities. It says that yet again people don't really care that black people are poorer, have a much worse chance of survival (in day-to-day and more extreme events) than white people, than richer people.

If my inferences are correct then I guess it would be similar to here in the UK, where people from black communities earn less due to prejudice, discrimination, poorer health, lower wages, less valued jobs, fewer rights, and fewer people caring.

And in a situation like this Hurricane it seems that the problems with black communities, disabled communities, poor communities, communities of women, of lesbians, and every other unnecessarily-badly-treated community, are all magnified and are seen more acutely, more immediately, and more terrifyingly. And in so many ways it is the same as the daily situations in people's lives, but in these drastic situations it is in the news and we actually hear the women crying.

The situation is appalling. The response of the American government is appalling.

Oh, and in terms of the disgusted reactions to petrol (gas!) price increases in Georgia, amongst other places, I did just want to point out that according to my research, those of you in the US are just about approaching the normal UK prices ;-)

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Garry Nixon said...

Don't get me started! If you're poor, you're nothing. If you're poor AND black...! And it's shoot-to-kill for looters. What if you're just trying to get water or food?

TP said...

Hurricane Katrina has been a useful ethnic cleansing tool for the Bush administration. They had every chance to get all the people out of New Orleans, but as you say, poor black people (mainly) remaind. Bush does not care about poor people. Bush does not care about black people.

He is a smarmy smirking racist. Twisty's comments are quite interesting. And if you like unerving and sad shocks take a look at the reported behaviour of the rescue services.