This is Me

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One Year Ago Today

When the news reports first started talking about this new storm brewing, no one thought much of it. My sister, who was a senior at Dillard University, had already evacuated that month twice before so they were old pros at it. We live 8 hours away from New Orleans, so when people mentioned "leaving New Orleans," my mother suggested she not drive home AGAIN. "Just go with your friend to Memphis" she said. My sister took a few days worth of clothing. Nothing else. She left everything.

No one thought it was going to be that bad.

The universities in the area were told to evacuate on the same day they were moving into the dorms. When the families of freshmen from up north were told to leave because a hurricane was on the way, they did so with confused looks on their faces, my sister said. They couldn't comprehend the fact that water could cause so much damage, so they didn't take anything with them when they got back in their cars. Folks from up north understand tornadoes, extremely cold winters, but not hurricanes.

I mean, really. It's just water. Right?

Saturday the storm was upgraded to a Category 5. It hit Sunday night. Monday morning I woke up to pleas for help, a man crying because he couldn't hold onto his wife when the water got too high. Monday morning I woke up crying. It hit home too much because less than 48 hours ago my sister was there and could have been going through what others were going through. She was was stuck in Memphis with no electricity. Even though she wasn't in New Orleans, we were still anxious because she wasn't at HOME. It was hard getting in touch with her. Always getting her voicemail. She made it home that Thursday. I went home that Friday for Labor Day weekend. It hurt her to see what was happening to her city, her school, all those people - trapped for days on top of their roofs, in the Superdome with no air or food. People being treated like animals. We heard stories about people shooting at rescue helicopters, but because the media is known for sensationalism rather than actual news reporting, we knew there was a different side to the story.

After a while we turned off the television, but felt badly for doing so. Those flooded out of their homes waiting and hoping for rescue couldn't just turn it off. They had to live through it.

I talked to a couple of friends during that week when my sister was still in Memphis, and since I was still on edge, I wanted to vent/discuss what was going on in New Orleans. After mentioning my sister evacuating, pretty much all of them said, "Really?" and then they'd move on to what was else was new. I was so ANGRY. I said "Are you even watching the news? Do you not understand what is going on right now to those people? Our people?" No was their answer. I just wanted to scream at them. "Why aren't you watching the news? Why are you acting like you don't care??!!"

But after calming down I thought to myself "If my sister hadn't been in New Orleans, would I have been watching the weather report all day every day like I am now? Would I be as concerned if it I didn't know some of the people affected?"

I'd like to think so. After all, I am older. On my own. I actually see things for myself rather than as a sheltered kid. But why don't other adults see what's going on around them?

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina hurt so many people, in numbers no one can fathom. The entire city was underwater and people everywhere didn't care. There could be a number of reasons why people didn't care. The majority of the people sitting on rooftops, baking in the sun, were black.... poor. I've actually heard of comments like "Well, they're stupid for not evacuating. The mayor said to get out." But if 70% of the population depended upon public transportation, how were they going to get out? They shut down the airport and the bus depot. Now what? If New York flooded, where the majority of the people there also depend upon public transportation (including the rich white folks), would people have been calling them stupid? I also heard the comment "The government should just nuke the whole city and start over. It's just black people left." (and they say racism no longer exists....)

Peoples' lack of sympathy can also be attributed to their lack of understanding of the damage water can actually do. I didn't even know. I mean, I can understand a house being destroyed. But a concrete freeway? Concrete buildings? CONCRETE? I was floored by what I saw. Speechless. Hurt. Angry. And I wasn't even the one living through it.....

To be continued......


  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger Kuntrygirl said…

    I totally agree with you 100%, I truly believe that Hurricane Katrina uncovered not only the blatant racism still present in our country but classism in the United States. This is even more proof that we live in a nation that lives in theory not practice, in theory "we are all created equal" but in practice, minorities will never be able to become equivalent to the majority. I really enjoy reading your blog...Keep up the great work!!!

  • At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ummm yeah this is your sister and I need you to get your facts straight...CLEARLY I was with the Mar to the Keeta and the R to the eva in JACKSON, MS. Sister do YOU hear me? lol


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