If you think you’ve read all there is to read about Hurricane Katrina and social conditions in New Orleans, why don’t you pick up Floodlines: Community and Resistance From Katrina to the Jena Six and read the truth? Instead of reports by journalists and political spin doctors, find out — through first-hand accounts — what the people of New Orleans experienced following that notorious weather event.
Everywhere there is prejudice, social injustice, and “racial tension.” In Louisiana, it’s an acknowledged way of life. There’s us and there’s them, and whoever falls into either category is based on who is doing the talking. As a “damn Yankee” (Yankees live in the North, Damn Yankees move to the south), I underwent major culture shock in 2000 when I relocated to Baton Rouge. The schools were under a forty-year-old federal desegregation order, people used the infamous “n-word” as an adjective in regular conversation, and segregation reigned — not officially or legally, but there were distinct cultural boundaries.
We were lucky. Katrina damaged our home, but it was minor. We suffered no personal injury or loss of life — electricity was a problem, and our Gulfport retreat was more severely damaged, but far from destroyed. Our lifestyle was turned upside down, but one should expect that when the population of a town actually doubles overnight.
The horror of Katrina was the reality of living in Louisiana. All the corruption and racism that people considered little more than jokes became daily news. Hurricane Katrina amplified Louisiana’s uglier side. You could not turn on the radio or read a newspaper without finding several stories about New Orleans police officers — stealing, beat-downs, and other malfeasance. The stories that came out of the New Orleans area were sickening. Relief efforts were tainted by political influences, and human beings were not part of the equation. The blame-game was infinitely more important than saving the city.