My lips and hands were cracking with desert dryness when i heard about the devastation of the south via the brutality of Katrina. Removed from all news sources, i could only pick up information through word-of-mouth networks with new news arriving with each fresh Burner. When i reached cell range upon leaving the playa, i called everyone i knew with connections down there and scanned for NPR and other radio news. But nothing prepared me for the photos that i saw once i reached my laptop.
What surprised me was not the massive flooding – i had been prepared for that by the news that flowed. What surprised me was the constant stream of black faces amongst those stranded and missing. It should’ve been obvious but it was not something that the radio discussed once as i scoured for news on my drive home. While the city had ordered a mandatory evacuation, not everyone had the means to leave. And in this country, poverty and skin color are painfully aligned. The radio was actively covering the looting but as i looked into the photo faces of those stranded, i couldn’t help but wonder how many of them were just trying to survive. Are they “looters” simply because they’re black?
I still don’t know how to react to the devastation that occurred while i was off in my privileged playa bubble. But i do know that a conversation on race and class is desperately needed in this country and my hope is that Katrina will allow us to begin that discussion. In the meantime, i pray that we can get our acts together and take care of the people who are in desperate need.
Question: i know that the National Guard is not letting the Red Cross into New Orleans. Has anyone done the research to determine where donations are the most effective right now?