Sunday, September 18, 2005
Poverty and Race in the Wake of Katrina
(CNN) -- White and black Americans view Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in starkly different ways, with more blacks viewing race as a factor in problems with the federal response, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.
The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina because many of the people in the Louisiana city were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.
The numbers were similar on whether the rescues were slower because the victims were poor, with 63 percent of blacks blaming poverty and 21 percent of whites doing so.
The poll, based on interviews with 848 whites and 262 blacks September 8-11, had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points. (Interactive)
GOI: Poverty and race seem to go hand in hand in most parts of the country coming down disporportionatly on the African-American front.
This from the U.S. Census report for 2003/2004:
In 2003, among people who reported a single race, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was 8.2 percent, unchanged from 2002.
For blacks, neither the poverty rate nor the number in poverty changed between 2002 and 2003. People who reported black as their only race, for example, had a poverty rate of 24.4 percent in 2003.
GOI: It's obvious that there is still a HUGE racial disparity in America and that being poor and being black are almost always inseparable. White America likes to think that there is no longer a racial divide in this country when there clearly is one.
It is for this reason that I am now for affirmative action and a sensible reparations act for the black population in this country. I also think that it should have a time table to follow the roughly 400 years that blacks have been socially and economically unequal and oppressed by white America.
A basis for that freedom and security can be assured through group reparations in the form of monetary compensation, along with free provision of goods and services to Black communities across the nation. The guiding principle of reparations must be self-determination in every sphere of life in which Blacks are currently dependent.
To this end, a private trust should be established for the benefit of all Black Americans. The trust should be administered by trustees popularly elected by the intended beneficiaries of the trust. The trust should be financed by funds from the general revenue of the United States for a period not to exceed ten years. (GOI: I personally believe the period should be between 350-400 years). The trust funds should be expendable on any project or pursuit aimed at the educational and economic empowerment of the trust beneficiaries to be determined on the basis of need. Any trust beneficiary should have the right to submit proposals to the trustees for the expenditure of trust funds.
Dr. Browne pointed out thirty years ago, "[b]lacks in America have no bootstraps to pull ourselves up by."
Dr. Browne summarizes the objectives: first, to punish white Americans for their ancestors' brutal enslavement of African Americans; second, to compensate the African American community for the unpaid labor of their slave ancestors; third, to provide African Americans with their fair share of the national wealth and income that would have been theirs had they had the same opportunities and advantages that white Americans experienced over the last 375 years.
Reparations, then, become the answer to the problem of race and racism in America, and the question is how best to implement them. A failure to redress the injuries caused by slavery and its aftermath is, as Professor Matsuda says, "an injury often more serious than the acts themselves, because it signifies the political non-personhood of victims." Reparations declare to the victims of racism that they exist as persons and that they are entitled to compensation for real deprivations: "This nation and its laws acknowledge you."
GOI: The case for reparations does have precedence:
Reparations for slavery finally achieved credibility in 1988, when a bipartisan congress granted reparations to Japanese Americans interned by the government during World War II.
GOI: The Japanese interned during World War II received reparations and yet their period of oppression was nothing compared to the black population throughout the history of this country.
Personally I believe that reparations should include non-monetary compensation as well and acknowledgement of past wrongs with national memorials in Washington D.C. to both the victims of slavery and those victims of racial descrimination in the first half of the 20th century.
The same should apply for Native Americans and yet no monetary amount can account for all that the Native American and Black communities have lost but it is a huge step in the right direction. The time is now.
There are many who say that America can not afford it but we have certainly "afforded" money for the Iraq war and for every war since the beginning of our country. Many of those wars were fought (and won) with the invaluable help from the Native American and Black populations.
The money should be seen as an investment in our countries future as raising people up through investments in small businesses, attending colleges and building new homes in lower crime neighborhoods will only build a greater America and reinvestment in our economy.
One ashamed white American.
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