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The poor and the blacks in New Orleans have experienced racial discrimination for a long time which has mainly been through politicians. The democrats and the republicans have shown racial discrimination by withdrawing social services or restricting them from the poor and the blacks Americans in the New Orleans city. As a result of this racial discrimination, poverty has stricken the black American community, which is reflected by the increased mortality rate of their children, poor education, unemployment, and underemployment has manifested this social problem in the multicultural city of New Orleans.
How Hurricane Katrina Exposed Racism in New Orleans
The hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in America brought into the minds of many residents the truth about their position in the minds of their neighbors. Although many of them were aware of the stand of their neighboring cities over their race, it was not easy to believe that they could still be discriminated against in times of such a disaster, Hurricane Katrina.
The aftermath of Katrina, which left thousands of people dead and homeless, could have been controlled to reduce the loss of lives and destruction of property. In their efforts to vacate the flooded city, the people faced it rough. The police officials banned them from crossing the bridge to the city of Gretna; the police officials claimed that these were looters and criminals who needed not be allowed to evacuate the death-smelling city. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were so reluctant to their duty by some saying that it was time for the city to be cleaned up of the poor African America and go back to its earlier state when it looked like its residents, the whites. The death of many was not reasonable but was a result of bureaucracy and poor policies.
Investigations showed that Katrina was a natural disaster that was not so natural to be controlled, but the fact that the city of New Orleans had many black African Americans made it to be ignored so that they could perish.
Racism was shown by military men who were deployed alongside mercenary groups who are believed to have been paid to make sure the evacuation was done discriminatingly. The cases of police brutality to the African American was seen during the Katrina, a case of a 64-year-old retired school teacher who was brutally beaten by constables who also assaulted the cameramen and his producer for recording them shocked the world. The social workers who were in New Orleans to assist in evacuation also faced it rough as they tried to ferry survivors into the city of Gretna. The police shot over the heads of the black survivors who wanted to cross to Gretna. They were scared by gunshots which left them with only one option, to go back to the flooded city instead of risking being shot.
The black neighborhood, like the lower ninth ward, has faced a number of problems in trying to resettle after the disaster. Essential facilities have been withdrawn from them, such as schools and hospitals, finances for the reconstruction of their homes are restricted as well as insurance to refinance their mortgages.
The officials and the wealthy developers used the law of ‘usufruct’ that enables the federal government to take away the private properties from the poor residents and give them to new developers. The wealthy landlords took advantage of Katrina to hike house rent so that the poor and the working class could not afford it. They also went to the courts asking for authorities to allow them to evacuate the poor nonwhites whom they claimed had not been paying rent since the disaster strike them.
The poor, on the other hand, went to the courts to block them from the evacuation of their properties since they were paying rent in both their evacuated homes and current refugee homes. The courts showed injustice by supporting the rich landlords and developers by giving them the mandate to remove properties of tenants who do not show up within twenty-four hours. This was done as tens of thousands continued living in camps and being deported if they lacked identification.
The federal government also supported the evacuation process of the nonwhites by pouring billions of dollars to private developers to buy and develop residential houses and apartments for the white, leaving the poor and the working class without homes. Instead of the government constructing houses themselves to enable cheap housing for the poor, they allow exploitative developers to continue exploiting the poor residents of New Orleans. These people have a double tragedy as they count loss from the hurricane; some people and the governments are busily pressurizing them.
The poor African American remains marginalized, and no one is out for their rescue since the media is also known to discriminate in their reporting. The efforts of the social workers and human rights commission have not been successful since they have no support from the federal government, which is the only way through which this animosity of racism can be stopped. The United States government shows clearly that it has no intentions of assisting the blacks since they pour money into the military in Iraq and Afghanistan and mercenary armies instead of helping the needy.
The bulldozing of public housing was done immediately after Katrina by the government to ensure that the poor blacks remained homeless, for they could not afford expensive houses owned by private developers. A republican representative once proclaimed that the public housing in New Orleans had been ‘cleaned’ by God, meaning the blacks will never live there again.
Raymond, D., and Herbert, D. Taking side, New York: Macmillan Company, 2005.