FEMA’s Dirty Little Secret

I promised some students back in N.O. that I’d let everyone hear about what’s been going down in New Orleans so take 5 minutes out of your privileged lives and become aware.

For those who don’t know, Howard had sent 570 students (70 law students week 1 and 500 undergrad week 2) to New Orleans as part of an Alternative Spring Break program to rebuild and reestablish the New Orleans community making them the biggest group of students to ever volunteer in LA. There they were joined by a few other schools and well meaning individuals including myself and together they made a difference.

It’d be hard for anyone to argue with Kanye’s Bush allegations because after visiting all the wards, 9th and east in particularly, you could tell FEMA didn’t do SHIT! Two years after the hurricane and it looked like Katrina had just hit. Houses were laid barren and destroyed and every mile had big open fields where houses once stood. It was past depressing. It was disgusting. I don’t think anyone outside N.O. could understand or fathom how hard Katrina had hit the city and the extent that the government chose to ignore the devastation…Naw, scratch that, they didn’t ignore the White affluent areas, those areas were rebuilt. It was the areas where the poor and Black people lived that were consciously overlooked.

Destroyed House

Can you imagine losing everything? Living in a trailer literally half the size of a dorm room with your entire family?!? Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and many will not return. I mean how could they? Insurance companies have pulled every scam in the book to keep people from getting money to rebuild and the media got it twisted. Did anyone else find it disgustingly ironic that in identical pictures, each showing a Black or a White person swimming into abandoned stores searching for food and clothing, the captions differed greatly? Somehow Black people were “stealing and looting” and White people were “finding.” America has found everyway to trick its people into believing that some how the people of New Orleans, human beings mind you, deserved this. No one deserves this. No American should have to wait four days for help in their own country.

I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard about the police shooting down boys who “stole” boats and trucks in efforts to save people from flooded home or innocent people being shot down for trying to cross the bridge into predominantly White areas which ironically happened to be the least effected and driest.

Some of us did debris removal, others built homes. I got to work at a charter school and at St. Augustine High School. There I met some of the smartest; most mature, hilarious and just cool ass kids around. I can’t say in words how uplifting it was too see so many intelligent young Black men, all destined for college. Everyone wished they could have stayed longer. It was almost too much fun.

So for every student who went to Mexico for Spring Break or professional who sat idly in their office, just know that over 600 well meaning individuals went down to Nawlins and sacrificed their vacations and work wages for the benefit of those who needed it the most. Trust and believe much more needs to be done so whenever you can break away go down to New Orleans, I’ll see you there because I will go back without a doubt!

~ by neorealist on June 13, 2007.

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