Hurricanes Shouldn’t be Used as a Time to Judge, Analyze Race Relations

Written by on 5 September 2017

Natural disasters are not the mechanism in which to test, analyze and judge race relations. More importantly, it’s not only irresponsible and disrespectful to use something as catastrophic and traumatic as Hurricane Harvey to use as a referendum that we’re moving past our divisions and differences to a post-racial utopia, but it’s downright irresponsible and unrealistic. The most obvious piece is the fact that people died and their loved ones must live with that loss for the rest of their lives. The last thing they’re likely thinking about is how their loved one’s death is impacting race relations in the country.

For the people who lost their homes, all their belongings, all worldly possessions, memories and keepsakes, ditto. Just because we saw countless people displaying selflessness, courage and heroism with seemingly nary a notice of race, what does this actually prove about this country’s racist feelings? How does it help these survivors rebuild?

Unfortunately, with Katrina, and we’re witnessing increasingly with Harvey, once the 24/7 news cameras broadcasting captivating photos and videos are gone, the people who suffered and will suffer the most will be poor black and brown people. They are going to be left to fend for themselves. They’re going to have the harder time getting funds and assistance. They’re going to have the harder time rebuilding. They’re going to have the harder time finding affordable housing. They’re going to have the harder time being seen and heard. They’re going to be the ones that fall into oblivion.

The fact that this country is still largely segregated places a huge role in overall race relations and becomes painfully obvious amid natural disasters like Harvey and Katrina. During these times, the people overwhelming packed into shelters, left to their own devices, stranded and almost forgotten literally on rooftops screaming for help are those in the poorer, geographically less desirable neighborhoods which tend to be disproportionately black and brown.Instead of looking at these events as a sign that we need to be brought together, we need to search for long-term, valid, reasonable solutions instead of the cop out that this natural disaster was sent as a wakeup call from a higher power to show us the error of our ways. It’s happened before and we still haven’t learned.

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