When I started reading an article for this class last week and realized that it was about Hurricane Katrina, I was confused. To be honest, I did not know that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with race. The only negative things that I heard about Katrina (besides, of course, the terrible damage that it did) was that the government took a long time to respond. When I learned about the hurricane in school, the main things that were discussed were what happened, the effects on people, what types of things I can do to prepare myself if I am ever in that type of situation, and how to help. Race was never even mentioned. And, at that point in my life, why should it have been? To me, at that stage, racism was gone, and that wasn’t the issue at hand; the issue was helping people who had lost everything. Now, years later, I know that in almost every situation, race will always be an issue at hand. Unfortunately, it is always an issue.
One thing that this class has really challenged me with is ways to prove to disbelievers that racism still exists. I always try to look for arguments people can give. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, I figure that people will argue that if attention were given in unequal ways, it was a matter of social status, not of race. But what I have learned is that, unfortunately, those two things stand together much too often. Black individuals are in a lower social standing simply because they are Black. After much searching, I found a video that I think could explain my point very well:
This video shows a Black man who was shot in New Orleans when he tried to enter a predominantly White neighborhood that was still in pretty good shape. When walking to this neighborhood, a resident, a White man, shot the Black man. The White man claimed that he was trying to avoid intruders. But when we take a closer look at this idea, how did the White man know that this man didn’t belong in the community? Was it because he was Black? That in and of itself is racist. But let’s play benefit of the doubt. Let us say that it was not because he was Black, but because the resident was afraid of intruders. How did he know this man was an intruder? Was that because he was Black? Because the area was usually so… White? It seems to me there is no way to get out of this one. The man was clearly shot because he was Black. This is not only disturbing to me for the obvious reasons of racism, but also because I would hope that America could stick together in such a difficult time. We need to learn not only to look past skin color as a determining factor of a person’s character, but to come together when we need to. We are on the same team, and we need to learn how to act that way.