Cynthia's Interests

The world as it unfolds - told from an African American woman's perspective...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Crisis raises questions of race

A black woman stood outside the city's convention center, surrounded by thousands of hungry, sick and frustrated residents. Javelin Coleman, 20, arrived at the center by canoe. Now, several days later, and with no car, she and her 3-month-old son had no way to escape. "I got stuck here," she said.

Some 600 miles away in Tampa, a white man, Dave Dickson, enjoyed a Diet Coke and a muffin. He and his wife, Barbara, evacuated their $300,000 home in New Orleans and drove to Florida. "I feel very fortunate that my friends and family are safe," said Dickson, 56.

In Hurricane Katrina's baneful aftermath, the dichotomy of New Orleans has become increasingly apparent. In image after image, the victims left to suffer appear to be mostly poor and black.

Why? Part of the answer is that two-thirds of New Orleans' population is black.

But history suggests an uglier explanation:

Black residents long ago were pushed into the swampy, low-lying lands of New Orleans, while rich white residents built on higher plots.

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