Being a native Louisianan (From Baton Rouge) now living in Houston the devastation of this storm hit me on several different levels. Directly because my brother, James, a Dillard University student lives in New Orleans and thankfully left the city the Friday before the storm. New Orleans has always been my favorite city; it was the locale of many of my personal milestones. It was the first place I traveled to with friends, the first place I saw Lenny Kravitz, and Ziggy Marley and live; not to mention years of annual trips for the Bayou Classic and Mardi gras.
What happened in Louisiana and Mississippi is a prime example of our nation tending to the troubles of the world and being abhorrently deficient in dealing with a CRISIS here at home. I want to keep this blog happy so I have dealt with the political side of this disaster in my other blog, “Just Politicking”. Here, I will simply say that for the first time in my life I was ashamed to be an American on the week of August 28, 2005. Many things have happened over the history of this country that have been wrong, and unjustified but never in my young, black life have I been ashamed to call myself an American until I watched the lack of response to the Katrina catastrophe. I remember crying myself to sleep for at least a week. My family, my friends, my people were the ones dying. I had an epiphany on Thursday of that week as I sat up late watching CNN, unable to sleep. This disaster is the personification of the treatment of poor and black people in this country. The rich people left New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama. In-fact three weeks after the disaster the debutant balls went off without a hitch in New Orleans. It did not matter that half the city looked like a war zone and most the people were scattered across the states. I will not soon forget the disparity of public opinion regarding race and the Katrina response either. Some of use should really be ashamed for not dealing with reality. If nothing else this incident should have sparked an honest dialogue about race in the United States. The pain of my disappointment aside, I will also never forget the Katrina disaster because although it diminished my faith in my government it intensified my feelings on the resilience of the human spirit. As a country, we came together the way we always should. That is, after all, the essence of America’s greatness.