It’s been seven years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the South, causing the death of more than 1,000 people and further crippling the Gulf Coast region. Many lessons were learned from Katrina, and as most prepare for Hurricane Isaac, Hip-Hop Wired is taking a look at the changes that have been made in the city of New Orleans and neighboring states in the years since.
Katrina effectively unearthed the disparaging treatment of poor Black people in New Orleans and beyond. President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, took several days to actually make it to the city, and initially branded those affected as “refugees.” His words caused nationwide backlash and were ruled both racist and discriminatory. Making matters worse was his mother Barbara’s statement that Black citizens who sought shelter in the crowded New Orleans Superdome were placed in better living conditions once they made it to the arena. “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway,” she said. “So this is working very well for them.”
Several deaths were confirmed at the Super Dome, some of which were not immediately removed from the venue. The lack of respect for human life, further deepened the racial divide that has plagued this country for hundreds of years. “[I remember] just how hard that time was, how stressful it was, the things that I was able to see and the TV [was] unable to show,” David Banner tells us of when Hurricane Katrina hit. “How America continues to flip our pain into money. You have companies like Halliburton making money off of our pain and don’t even allow us to work in a lot of cases, to help our own situation when there’s money to be pushed back into our neighborhoods. To watch the tourist aspect in the places we’re from flourish, a lot of the places that we are actually from are in similar situations but because we’re so used to pain, we don’t expect more.
“The disaster recovery model in America has room for improvement. There were folks who received insurance and then the mortgage company took their payments.”
“Historically I can’t remember in recent history when any president has done much for the state of Mississippi, regardless of who that is,” adds Banner. “Mathematically it doesn’t add up, if you have the poorest state than that’s the state that needs the most funding and the most help, that’s never the case when it comes to the state where I’m from.”
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