Friday, September 09, 2005

In Katrina’s aftermath, I had hoped ...

I had hoped that, instead of the blame game that’s raging in this country today, the heart-breaking scenes brought to our living rooms from New Orleans would make people understand more about what being poor really means.

I had hoped that people would see that there are people in our society who are completely marginalized, who have disappeared from our vision of America. I had hoped that people in their comfortable suburban homes would see the fathers who really really need that 35-cent raise, the kids who think Christmas is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa, the mothers who know they have to live with choices they didn’t know they made when they were 14 years old.

I had hoped that people would understand that the lowest, poorest, starvingest time of the month for anyone on public assistance is exactly when Katrina hit.

If you haven’t seen any of this as a national disgrace, if you’re asking the blame-the-victim question about Katrina’s victims (“They had warning; why didn’t they leave?”) or even if you’re thinking like I am, I recommend John Scalzi’s wrenching blog post, Being Poor.

Thanks to Arbitrary & Capricious for the link.

2 Comments:

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Juan Paxety said...

The thing that I carry away from this - and think about as Hurricane Ophelia threatens me at this second - is that I cannot depend on government at any level to save me. You have to plan to take care of yourself, and unfortunately, poor people have trouble planning ahead for a lot of reasons. One thing that government agencies and the media could do is help poor people plan to care for themselves in an emergency - but they don't do it. I suspect a combination of racism/classism (thinking the poor are too stupid to make decisions about their own lives) and wanting to retain institutional power.

 
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