The mathematics of a catastrophe
37 million Americans live in poverty.
That's 125% of Canada’s population of 30 million, a staggering 15% of the American population.
57% of New Orleans’ population was black. 30% of their population lived below the poverty line.
The poverty line is defined as being “a family of four living on less than $18,810.” Try raising a family of four on less than $30,000. Is the poverty line even realistic, then? What's the true extent of poverty in America? Will we ever really know?
And what happens when your predominantly black region filled with predominantly impoverished people gets hit by a catastrophe?
I guess we’re finding out.
There are still no numbers for the dead in the South. There are no news agencies willing to take the risk of proclaiming the number of dead before "concrete" numbers can be had. I’m not sure if it falls under the journalistic credo of “if it’s THEM, we can show their corpses. If it’s US, we cannot.”
But there it is. No numbers. One Louisiana senator, David Vitter, has stated that he feels the number of dead in New Orleans alone will start at 10,000.
To put that in perspective: A city of 480,000, nearly a twentieth the population of New York City, has lost, for starters, three times the amount of people who died on 9/11.
There absolutely needs to be an inquiry into how the government could have waited so long to respond.
This is a national disaster. It’s not “one of the worst” as Bush said yesterday.
It is America’s worst national disaster, socially and meteorologically and geophysically, and the victims still had to scream and plead and cry to get help.
New Orleans' Mayor Nagin broke down in tears on the radio Thursday in his pleas for assistance. The man was broken, enraged, horrified, and really, really tired.
Finally, days later, assistance is reaching there.
But America -- ALL of America -- needs to find a way to address the reality: The Blacks were ignored. The Blacks died by the thousands. The Blacks seemed almost expendable.
Wounds of long ago that barely ever even began to close have been ripped wide fucking open.
Your history of racism and segregation isn’t in the rearview mirror. It’s your reality. Anyone from outside of the US can tell you it’s something we’ve all known all along. It’s time you take your reality check and break down the walls between the races.
Before more die. Before civil unrest begins.
It needs to start with the people. You need to tell your politicians that freedom, liberty, security, and the protection of Big Brother extends to every man, woman, and child in your land, regardless of race or creed.
The devastation of Katrina may take years to overcome. So too might the racial and social fallout if it is ignored.