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/.