Racially Divided after Surviving Hurricane Katrina- New Orleans and Perceptions of its Recovery

by camelia.bouthillier on September 11, 2015 - 1:56pm

In the article “Racially Disparate Views of New Orleans’s Recovery after Hurricane Katrina” by Campbell Robertson published August 24th 2015 in The New York Times, it is understood that the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina are still visible today. However, Robertson mainly focuses on the racial disparities and variations in the views of the level of recovery between the different ethnic groups from the area. In fact, according to a study lead by Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University, four out of five Caucasian residents consider New Orleans’ economy, education and quality of life to have generally recovered from the incident contrarily to the two out of five Colored residents who strongly disagree. The author states that, although the federal government invested billions of dollars in aid after the disaster, the idea of an accomplished recovery is highly contrasted particularly by African-Americans who believe there is still a lot of work unfinished, thus proving there is a racial divide in perceptions. More specifically, 41% of whites believe the quality of life has bettered contrarily to the one-third of blacks who believe the complete opposite. Many argue that African-Americans were more likely to have been located in the area most affected by the flooding; hence, they had a rougher time recovering consequently altering their idea of general recovery.  Nonetheless, Robertson underlines the controversy that there is a variation in the perceptions of New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina, mostly differing amongst races, thus causing a form of concern for a racial divide within the city.

            I strongly agree with the idea that there seems to be a disagreement in perceptions concerning New Orleans’ state of recovery after the Hurricane Katrina that occurred 10 years ago. However, as nuanced in the text, I do agree that there can be explanations to such a gap in views other than direct racial inequality. It is possible that concepts such as geographical location leading to a variation in the extensiveness of the damages between neighbourhoods could have affected the general view of the city’s recovery. Although the ideas of this article seem fair in the sense that New Orleans’ recovery is subjective, the use of the terms such as “racial divide” further enhance our misconceptions of the reality of race. As stated in Darren Curnoe’s Human Races: Biological Reality or Cultural Delusion?, “the idea that races are part of our existence and daily experience, especially those of us living in multicultural societies, seems to be taken for granted” (Curnoe, 2014, p.37). This article confirms this statement by emphasizing the idea of racial gaps. Robertson also employs terms such as blacks and whites to further describe the groups implicated in this division making certain aspects of this article weak. As we learned in class, race is a highly subjective category that does not classify biological difference. Henceforth, basing his statements of racial divide on an idea founded only on skin color without specifying it being a direct effect of racism only disproves this theory given that race is not defined by physical attributes. However, had this theory been grounded on the idea of geographic location that usually regroups people from the same ethnic backgrounds and generally the same socio-economic status, this argument would have been much more coherent given the fact that poorer neighborhoods would have had a rougher time recovering. However, we must ask ourselves whether the binding of socio-economic status and ethnicity are directly caused by racism and so-called racial division.


List of References

Curnoe, D. (2014, October). Human races: biological reality or cultural delusion?. Australasian Science,   35(8), 36-38. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/.

Robertson, C. (2015, August 24). Racially disparate views of New Orleans’ recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The New York Times. Retrieved September 5, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/


I chose to answer to this article because I was wondering how can a natural disaster create racism within a population? The fact that the two "Races" in this article have both completelycompletely different opinions on how there life style is now is very bad. Yes, probably most of those who where in a location might of have already been poor which means that they have had a harder time with recuperating but there is no reason why the should be saying that they haven't improved. The city should of pushed to have mixed neighborhoods and create less of a racial disparity. Now both "Races" are completely separated which makes.it even worse because you just see the poor Black neighborhoods and The rich white neighborhoods. As spoken about in class, the blacks in general aren't poor because they are stupid but because of slavery and segregation they had less time and less of an opportunity to learn and get good jobs. Compared to whites who always had the opportunity to go to school and get good jobs. They community of New Orleans is very diverse, what I think is that the Blacks have a reason to not be happy about the process of rebuilding, and whites have a easy time with their money and the government helping them out more. You are right by saying that the article should be on the area of where the people live and not of their "Race".