Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Racism, Poverty and Katrina


From the New York Times: From Margins of Society to Center of the Tragedy

"Is this what the pioneers of the civil rights movement fought to achieve, a society where many black people are as trapped and isolated by their poverty as they were by segregation laws?" Mr. Naison wrote. "If Sept. 11 showed the power of a nation united in response to a devastating attack, Hurricane Katrina reveals the fault lines of a region and a nation, rent by profound social divisions."


As I watched the first scenes of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - of people being rescued from rooftops - tears quickly came to my eyes - they still do.  But not just because of the horror of it, but because I noticed instantly that most of the people left behind were poor, black, and/or elderly.  The hurricane only reminded me that poverty and racism still run deep in our society.

When I give presentations about hunger I ask participants why people are hungry.  People usually come up with a good list, but the one that is almost always missing is what I call the "ism's" - racism, sexism, classism, and ageism.  After I talk about the isms, I'm usually met with uncomfortable silence.  I am so tired of this country ignoring these deep, deep injustices - injustices that only foster more injustice like poverty.  It is my hope that as we all do our part to help with the rebuilding, clean up, and healing from Katrina's destruction, that we also begin to rebuild a society that addresses and confronts evils like racism.

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I couldn't agree more - Rebuilding will take awhile, fingers will be pointed at 'what did or didn't happen beforehand',and the storm, literally and figuratively, will be weathered. One thing that will not go away, not even long after all the water is pumped out...is the plight of those who had no means to get out in the first place - whether it be New Orleans or their socio-economic standing. These issues of poverty, hunger, and race are the ones that demand preemptive action first and foremost if we are to ever respond unified, adequately, and successfully to any and all things in the 'country of equality.'

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