COLUMN: Race factors into response, aid receieved for Katrina

Sasha Parker

“It’s been five days because most of the people are black – George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” exclaimed hip-hop sensation Kanye West during NBC’s one-hour special to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

West has been catching slack from critics who claim race has not played a role in disaster relief efforts. However, the federal government’s slow reaction has made it very clear that black citizens have been left off America’s list of priorities.

For those of you who do not believe this claim, let’s examine some facts.

According to the “Chronicles of Philanthropy,” 10 days after Sept. 11, Americans donated $239 million to charitable causes. By December 2001, an estimated $1.3 billion in relief aid had been raised for the victims of Sept. 11.

That means relief organizations raised more than $15 million per day to distribute to the families of the victims. That’s more than $15 million given to people who still had homes, clothes, food and clean water.

On Aug. 25, 2005, the U.S. AID Organization began construction on the Banda Aceh to Meulaboh Road in Indonesia.

Why was this government so quick to help rebuild another country before attempting to rebuild our own?

In 2004, the U.S. government evacuated the state of Florida days before Hurricane Charley struck. By the time Charley touched ground at 5 a.m. on Aug. 15, most of the areas surrounding Charlotte County had been evacuated. By the following Sunday, Charley’s death toll had reached 13.

Why was a whole area evacuated days before Hurricane Charley but three states couldn’t be evacuated before Hurricane Katrina?

In an article published by two days after Hurricane Charley blew through Florida, President Bush stated, “It is hard to describe seeing an entire community flattened.”

If George Bush thought seeing a whole community flattened was devastating, I wonder how he feels about three whole states being destroyed.

Even more startling is the fact that two days after Hurricane Charley, Jeb and George Bush had been to Florida to see the damage and comment on the disaster. However, three days after Hurricane Katrina, George Bush had just decided to come back from his vacation early. Twelve days later, Bush still has not seen the damages of Katrina in person.

For anyone to sit and believe race has not played a major role in the slow reaction to Hurricane Katrina is absurd. The catastrophes of the past five years, both natural and man-made, have shown if the majority of these people were not black, Katrina’s effects would not have been so devastating.

Another thing we have to keep in mind is if it took the U.S. four years to break ground on the new World Trade Towers, how long will it take them to rebuild three states?

With all this information presented, Kanye West was not wrong in stating the government does not care about black people because it has become very evident this government feels we are expendable.

The startling reality is race does matter. The teeming masses of hungry, homeless black people in the Gulf Coast will continue to be a constant reminder that your government and your president just don’t care.

Sasha Parker is a junior magazine journalism major, the Political Affairs and Grievances Chair for Black United Students and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].