It is hard to believe that five years have passed since Hurricane Katrina swept over the Gulf Coast, devastating the region, killing over 1,800, displacing thousands and leaving $80 billion in property damage. But five years it has been nonetheless. And of course, we all remember the breaking of the levees in New Orleans, which led to the flooding of that great city and the deaths of hundreds, many of whom were poor and people of color with nowhere to hide.
Those levees--seemingly constructed of little more than lego, silly puddy and tape, not exactly a marvel of American engineering--stood and fell as a symbol of years of government neglect. The Bush administration's lack of a response to the plight of the mostly chocolate city of New Orleans following Katrina of was a potent example of America's callousness towards poverty and black and brown people.
Speaking of then-President Bush's bungling of the Katrina aftermath, Kanye West said that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Well, now we have an African-American president named Barack Obama. And while much has changed in the Gulf Coast region since 2005, many things have remained the same as far as black people are concerned. And while the president has taken steps to improve the quality of life in the region, he has been criticized for not doing enough to help African-Americans who are being left out of the recovery efforts. Plus, the recent BP oil disaster in the Gulf Coast hasn't exactly helped things. Now is a good time to ask the question, does President Obama really care about black people?
Despite a $10.5 billion relief aid package under the previous president, the Bush legacy in the Gulf is one of incompetence, with some racism and classism mixed in. Public perceptions combined with a healthy dose of reality made it appear that the fix was in for the disproportionately black victims of the region. It speaks to a conservative hatred of government and claims that government does not work. So, when politicians who subscribe to that ideology get into office, they find the worst people to run the agencies they don't like, in order to blow it all up and create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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