Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reflecting on Hurricane Katrina

Today is a bittersweet anniversary. Everytime this day rolls by, my mind harkens back to sitting with my family and watching in horror as people who looked like us begged into the camera for food, water and help. I still feel the anger as I remember how the government sat on its hands while people suffered immensely trying to escape the disaster. And still, my lip are pressed in quiet frustration as I remember the constant mentioning in the MSM about the "refugees" who "looted" and did not "find".

As I understand, New Orleans is fighting to survive, yet has a long way to go. While ninth ward continues to be left in the dust, the French Quarter is being rebuilt and tourists are coming back. While the survivors of this horrible occurrence continue to reside in formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailers, the city is becoming more "gentrified". A few has returned. But for the most part, the citizens of the wonderful city has scattered to different parts of the country in order to start their lives over.

When I think about the beauty of New Orleans, I ponder on my grandmother's friends who stayed across from her apartment in Texas. Every time myself and my family would visit, they would come out of their apartment. The wife would embrace me, my father, mother and sister and call us, Cher and Cherie and then proceed to tell us how they talk to my grandmother everyday and keep a watch on her (knowing that she is in her nineties). The wife and the husband would also wear the weariness of the last two years on their faces as they worry about their people back in Louisiana and what they went through on a daily basis since the levees broke.

Their resilience and strength continues to encourage me that despite the hardships that the survivors face in Louisiana, no one gives up. They struggle to continue their lives doing the best that they can. And in light of this, they still face the indignity of an imperial presidency who made fifteen "so-called" visits and have done nothing in terms of improving the condition of the people of the Gulf Coast. What is even worse, in the State of the Union Address, the "imperial" President, didn't even mention their plight or acknowledged them. The most consistent thing he did was do "fly overs" and "photo-ops" just to make people "forget" his quip about "Brownie doing a heckuva job".

Two years later has caused a lot of changes, nevertheless. Michael Chertoff (who was at a conference when the levees broke) is now being considered to replace exiting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. New Orleans has become the "murder capital" of America. FEMA has been absorbed into the Dept. of Homeland Security.

And then, again, a lot of things haven 't changed. Condoleeza Rice still hasn't shown up or spoken about how she felt about what happened in Louisiana. And of course, people are still fighting about what needs to be done to restore the luster back to the old grande dame of a city.

All that I know is that the American government turned its back on her and her citizens. They left her to wallow in her misery. And then, the government rebuked her and placed her people into "disposability" because in the aftermath of the floods, the chaos in front of the small screen revealed to the world how supposedly the "greatest" democracy actually treated its citizens who fell below the radar. In doing so, they not only offended the larger expanse of Americans across the states, they opened the eyes of the world.

I wish the survivors the best as they continue to make their lives better and more fulfilled in light of what happened. Hope lies with them.

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