Where the Bayou meets the Back Bay…
For about a week now, I’ve been hearing people say things like, “If a disaster the size of Katrina hit an upper-class, white community, you’d see Bush move a lot faster.” and “Bush only moved so slowly because those people were poor and black. That would never have happened in a wealthy, white area.” I’m sure we’ve all heard variations on the theme.
As for myself, I’ve been saying since before the disaster how obvious the benefits of wealth are in our society. It’s not a race issue but a class issue. The lines of FEMA’s aid are split as clearly as a poverty line.
Still, when I write for this site, I usually look for something to spur me on. So, I was going to leave this issue for some place else… unless I found that “OC Connection”, of course.
Leave it up to a college student in Maine to give me the opportunity. The Bowdoin Orient, a college newspaper in Brunswick Main, printed the following opinion in this week’s paper, “It would be foolish to ignore the roles race and class play in this tragedy. If a similar disaster had occurred in Orange County, California, or a similar wealthy, white bastion of conservatism, it’s safe to say that help would have been sent immediately. Conservatives and liberals alike will try as hard as they can not to talk about class, but it is both irresponsible and unavoidable in this situation.”
My first thought was the unavoidable, “DUH!”… but then, I got to thinking. How obvious is this, really? Is there a flaw in my reasoning and that of the Bowdoin writer? What do you think? How fast would the government react to a disaster here in Orange County?
One more note: This from Colin Powell: “…I think it’s economic,” Powell said. “But poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor.”