If I don't write about it, I might implode.
|I was lucky enough to be evacuated by family, escaping Lake Ponchatrain's water before it flooded into the city. If not, then I fear I might've ended up bused, or flown, to Texas. Out of all the many other cities and states that displaced New Orleanians now live in, none have been so vocal in their disgust of Katrina survivors than Texas. All New Orleanians were soon branded as "criminals" and "free loaders" as Texas' southern hospitality began to wane. Texas has become the prime example of "Katrina Fatigue." But, to be fair, I'm sure other states and many other people are tired of hearing about Katrina and its aftermath, also. Hell, I'm almost tired of hearing about Katrina. But as a survivor, how can I just forget about such a horrific event in my life? If only it was so easy! I wish like hell that I could just get over it like some people believe that we should! And try as I might, I simply can't find all the words to try to make everyone understand what we've gone through and continue to go through.
Maybe it's because deep inside, the people who think we should "get over it" don't like that Katrina helped to expose the poverty, racism, and political corruption we still grapple with in America, particularly in The South. It's evident in the comments made: "They were told to get out, so they should've left the city when they were told! It's their fault and I'm not sending a dime to help rebuild that cess pool!"
"What great city?!?! There's some good food and drinks, but nothing else. What makes New Orleans so special?"
"Why waste my tax dollars on rebuilding such a corrupted place? They're a bunch of idiots for building and living in a punchbowl, anyway!"
"New Orleans got what they deserved and no tax money should be used to rebuild that place."
How do I make people who say such things understand the pain we're still dealing with? How do I make them realize that all of New Orleans' citizens are not criminals? How do I make them understand the danger of generalizing groups of people? Comments like those above are just heartbreaking when you know you've been a hard working, tax paying American citizen.
And when you think you've heard it all, a bunch of people from West Houston crowd into a church to hold a town meeting where they demanded Houston's mayor to send New Orleans evacuees back home. They're tired of dealing with "the criminals" and maybe tired of constantly being reminded of Katrina's aftermath, also. I can understand not wanting to have to live with crime. Who wants to live in crime-ridden neighborhoods? And while I'm sure that criminals from New Orleans have gone on with their criminal activity in the other cities they're now living in, it is not every New Orleanian who is committing crime. I have no problem with Texas being fed up with having to deal with additional crime, but when some of the state's citizens start generalizing and seeing all New Orleanians in negative ways, it's not fair. Sure, hold a town meeting when things begin to get out of hand in the community, but why not try to realistically address the problem(s)? Why not demand the mayor and the police department to step up in policing those areas where citizens think crime is rising?
I watched one of our local newscasts broadcast some of the town meeting, yesterday. One woman stood and complained that she was tired of being accosted by panhandlers while another woman stood and complained about not being able to visit a park because apparently the way to get there is occupied with evacuees. Why not ask your mayor and your PD to get out to those areas and work on making them safer, again? Why just give up and demand that all New Orleanians be sent back home?
How does that addage go?...Oh, yeah--If you're not a part of the solution, then you're a part of the problem. If you think you weren't effected by what happened to us in New Orleans, then please think again. For one, it has certainly added to the hefty burden American tax payers already face. And whether we like it or not, New Orleans and Louisiana is important to American History, despite corruption. Political corruption will exist on some level, even when we believe we've properly exercised our right to vote and have worked to elect "honest" leaders. Show me an American state or city where some form of political corruption has not taken place, please. I'm not saying that corruption should be tolerated. I just feel a need to defend my hometown in light of Katrina as some people feel New Orleans should not be rebuilt because of its corruption.
Despite how upset I got after learning of what the West Houston residents were demanding, I can understand their plights. They want their community back just as badly as we New Orleanians want our former communities back. Still, I would ask them to beware of generalizing people. Not all of the evacuees are criminals. Criminals come in all shapes, sexes, and complexions. Poverty does not only affect/effect black Americans. Gainfully employed, tax-paying American citizens come in all shapes, sexes, and complexions, too.
Last but not least, I would ask those West Houston residents who gathered in the church to try to continue putting themselves in our shoes--into the shoes of those from New Orleans who made honest livings and obeyed the laws. We exist, too, and I'm truly sorry you had to deal with the criminal element from New Orleans.
Despite all the hoopla, I would just like to say "thank you" to Texas, nonetheless, for opening their hearts to displaced evacuees...