Response to “Can a City Have a Soul?”

The issue that this post seems to be addressing is the tensions of history and the negative implications it had on our cities. There’s no disputing that the standard of living in the Lower Ninth Ward were entirely unacceptable and that the ball was entirely dropped in rescuing these people from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. I would ask though, was that an honest mistake or a lack of caring of the people in power. A lot was said about the “history” of the Lower Ninth Ward. Well, the Lower Ninth Ward was a predominantly African American, impoverished area. The history there is a history of oppression and disregard for the inhabitants of that area. It was just easy to ignore how little the people in power cared for the living conditions of the African American community of New Orleans. It’s the South, what do you expect, I guess. However, when Hurricane Katrina hit, what happened is simply a matter of fact that the more affluent white people just didn’t care. They didn’t realize the levees would break and that what would have been an already tragic number of deaths would turn into thousands of refugees being disenfranchised. The fact is, these people were refugees of white America long before they were refugees of Hurricane Katrina. The destruction of the great storm simply made it impossible for the rest of the country to ignore the blatant disregard for the well-being of these people that was occurring in the Lower Ninth Ward. Legislation and charity seem to only treat the symptoms of poverty. The cycle still continues though. I ask, how do we empower people in areas like the Lower Ninth Ward that are found in just about every major city in the United States to lift themselves out of poverty and disenfranchise those that would seek to stand in their way? How can we ensure that we, as Americans, experience success and failure, triumph and tragedy, the same regardless of the color of our skin? When will the black man stop getting the short end of the stick?

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