Wednesday, September 2, 2009


(Above) Hurricane Katrina Heading North towards the Delta

(Below) Four years later, downtown New Orleans remains a shambles

Public housing has been destroyed and pricey condos are being built in their stead. Former citizens have been forced to resettle as far away as Oakland, California. Hope of returning for poor people of color dims with each passing day. In the Memorandum from the President to the Secretary of Homeland Security, on August 6, 2009, President Obama assigned his authority to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to discharge his function under SECTION 601 of Public Law 111-5 (HR 1) [the ‘‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’’]:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President shall establish an arbitration panel under the Federal Emergency Management Agency public assistance program to expedite the recovery efforts from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita within the Gulf Coast Region.”

An article entitled Arbitration system formed for Katrina damage cases by Bill Barrow in the Times-Picayune (August 7, 2009) at reports on the immediate effect of this delegation of presidential power. To sum up: the poorest displaced citizens lose their day in court, with little hope of repatriation. The suited lawyers fill their pockets with public funds, and justice remains remote from those most harmed by the inundation of the Ninth Ward and FEMA’s subsequent incompetence.

Meanwhile, Life on the Mississippi Delta (follow link to You Tube video) remains harsh and heartless for the downtrodden, while the wealthy thrive on the fruits of $3/day laborers toiling in their fields. Instead of formaldehyde-laced trailers, the working poor here live in sharecroppers’ cabins with nary a penny in hand after the rent is paid.

Many of us are saddened by empty promises of repatriation for the New Orleans Diaspora, as well as the peonage forced upon the poorest of the poor in the Mississippi Delta. Hurricane Katrina has taken the rap unfairly for man’s inhumanity to man. Love of money, prestige and power are the real culprits.

True Americans owe assistance to our suffering brothers and sisters who were forced from their homes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We owe assistance to those bearing the heavy yoke of peonage across the Mississippi Delta. Can we make a difference, even if our elected officials have sold out?


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