As written in the San Antonio Register
San Antonio, Texas' Oldest Black Newspaper
With as many as 13,000 victims from New Orleans being evacuated to San Antonio, Texas, we need to analyze how the handling of the flooding in New Orleans could be called racist with a class bias. Many of the people who were left to rot in a hell hole were poor in addition to being Black. There is the usual right-wing radio comment that because New Orleans is 70% Black, the majority left without help would necessarily be a majority of African Americans. However, this does not explain the use of the term "refugee." The term refugee implies someone who is not a US citizen! Was this a racist slip? The Black majority flap is a flawed argument however, since isnt about the number of Blacks that live there, but about the failure of the City, State and Federal governments in dealing with a catastrophic event.
When it became known that the hurricane had reached category five, the local government should have been prepared with busses and transportation for the flood victims. The local authorities should have gone door to door warning people to get out. In addition, the miserable failure of Louisiana Governor Blanco is quite apparent. When it became known that the hurricane would be a horrible event, Governor Blanco should have moved with all due speed to make sure that every available boat and helicopter be deployed to New Orleans. She instead moved at a snails pace. Governor Blanco should be removed from office.
Thousands of people may have perished in the fumbled rescue operations that left people without water and food in deplorable conditions. They were even victimized by scumbag gangs, which we are sometimes to eager to protect. FEMA also moved at a snails pace to provide aid to the people at the New Orleans Convention Center, and apparently even gave out false information about supplies being "on the way." The director of FEMA, Michael Brown, should be fired immediately. One has to ask the question, "Would the residents of Beverly Hills been treated like this? Would there have been such ineptitude on the part of government officials if the victims lived in an affluent area?" Some may argue that New Orleans poor were treated this way because they were Black. Although I do not question the racist realities of New Orleans, some debate the race issue, but there seems little doubt that they were left to face the flood of the century by themselves because they were poor.
One should be reminded that people have been victimized for many years by being sold land in a flood plane. This happened in San Antonio over and over, until some legislation was passed that prevented people from building in a flood plane. The residents of Willow Wood, a Black area in San Antonio, were sold land that is in a flood plane, and the owners knew it! The residents on Rice Road in San Antonio were sold land in a flood plane, and the owner knew it! People have been victims of this sort of bamboozlement for years. New Orleans should never have been a city, for it is in an area that will probably disappear from the map one day. It was a slave port that was operated by Jim Bowies father who cared nothing about the well being of slaves. Isnt it ironic that the slavers of that day would end up creating a large African American population in a flood prone area!
When the body count is finally taken, how many dead will there be? I expect there will be some attempts at a cover-up about the numbers that actually died. We cannot trust governmental officials to render aid in a timely manner. Is the government ready for a nuclear attack? I doubt it. If someone ever explodes some nuclear device near a major city we can expect more of the same - total chaos. I suspect that many will no longer trust the local, state, or federal government, not just in Louisiana, but across the country. This event will have long historical consequences, as many individuals now believe that their lives mean little if they dont live in affluent areas. According to some polls this event has completely undermined the credibility of the Home Land Security Office, and has painted the picture that it will be everyone for themselves in the event of a major catastrophy.
I know that this sound like doom and gloom, but we are left with what happened. There are no man-made structures that can withstand extreme events. If you live in a flood plane, you, or the generations to come, will be flooded again by an even worse storm. This is why many people have chosen to leave New Orleans and never return. Those that live in California and in areas prone to natural disasters might take heed: "Remember the pitiful class and bigoted response by government officials at the federal level and at the state level in Louisiana."
© 2005, Mario Marcel Salas
Copyright © 2005
Last Modified: September 9, 2005.