Prior to my trip to NOLA, I possessed only a limited understanding and appreciation for terms such as injustice, segregation, inequality and disparity. I knew what these terms meant, but only after visiting New Orleans did I realize that reading about these concepts is very different from understanding what they represent. What does a word like ‘injustice’ truly represent? If you did a google search on the phrase, you would see something along the lines of:
“Injustice- lack of justice; the violation of the rights of others; unfair acts”
Although accurate, the aforementioned definition does not give the reader a true appreciation for acts which may be considered unjust. The strategic decision of the local government in Louisiana not to reinvest in social housing, so that the poor have no place to return to- represents an unjust act. The American government’s annual decision to invest billions of dollars into the military while tax paying citizens remain homeless for six years because they can not afford to rebuild -represents injustice. The levees systems consistently breaching in the area protecting the Lower Ninth Ward, but not in areas that protect the economically affluent- represents injustice. Having no hospitals (public or private) available to service the 55,000 citizens living in the St. Bernard Parish and near by Lower Ninth Ward- represents injustice. Privatizing schools in poor, racialized communities represents injustice.
Sadly, my list goes on and one. Yet the worst part about my list is the fact that I am able to compile it as a non-citizen looking in. I can not fathom how much more intense the list would be if it were created by a New Orleanian. They have to live with daily reminders of injustice.
Before visiting New Orleans, I had mentally prepared myself to see a few broken homes and other small reminders of a storm which had occurred nearly 6 years ago. I was convinced that there would not be too much to look at due to the large span of time that had elapsed between the flooding and my visit. Upon my arrival, I was shocked to see how much work was still needed. Abandoned homes, schools, stores can be founded in almost every neighbourhood. Of course, a disproportionate amount is found in poor, racialized communities. Now with the most recent threat of flooding from the Mississippi River, I can’t help but wonder what lessons have been learned from Hurricane Katrina. The government is proposing the strategic flooding of smaller communities in order to spare larger metropolitans such as Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I question whether proper evacuation plans are in place for those most at risk. I question what type of compensation and support the government is planning to offer communities affected by strategic flooding. I wonder if the poor, old, weak, racialized and disabled will again be the hardest hit and the most affect. I am hopeful that the better mechanisms are now in place to protect the citizens of that live in close proximity to the Mississippi River, but unfortunately I don’t have too much faith in a government that strategically chooses to flood one city over another instead of investing in a means to save both.
Until Next Time…