Thursday, August 30, 2007

Katrina: Two Years Later, the Tragedy Continues

Well, here we are, two years after the worst natural disaster in American history. Two years after Hurricane Katrina killed roughly 2,000 people and forced the dirty little secret of race and poverty in American society into the mainstream consciousness, at least for a few weeks. And, here, two years later, the Gulf Coast remains devastated... and poverty runs rampant across the nation. This is the shame of our society, domestically.

Over the next few days I will be posting what I think are some good materials on Katrina during this anniversary period. I hope you will take some time to check them out and I hope we might all meditate deeply on the implications of this ongoing disaster for our nation... and give some thought to what we might do to make a more compassionate and just society.

I am starting with an essay by Earl Ofari Hutchinson because it focuses on poverty, which is by no means a regional issue. It is a national epidemic, yet there remains no political will to do anything about it. For a nation so wealthy, this is pathetic... and immoral. Remember after Katrina hit, there was all this blabbering by politicians, business leaders and other "important people" about a new "War on Poverty"? Nothing ever came of it. The money that was appropriated, like much of the money that was thrown at Iraq, was wasted, or mismanaged, or "disappeared" altogether.

I live in Nebraska. Omaha is home to the third poorest black community in the nation and the poorest for black children. A full 60% of all African American children in Omaha live in poverty! That is not a typo. Sixty percent! I grew up in Cleveland, one of the poorest cities in the country. About one third of all people in that city live in poverty. And on and on and on...

In the article, Hutchinson writes,
"They all missed the real story and tragedy of Katrina: the naked face of poverty that shocked the world two years ago remains just as naked and shameful two years later. And Bush and the Democrats are to blame for it...

"The national soul searching about attacking poverty has evaporated. The nearly $100 billion that Bush says his administration has shelled out to aid the recovery effort has either been wasted on showy and ineffectual redevelopment, public works reclamation and retrenching projects, inflated construction contracts, or has flat-out been 'misappropriated' (some would say 'stolen')."

Here is the full article:
Hutchinson, "After Katrina - Poverty Is Still America's Shame"

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