Reality Check

I also have left New Orleans asking more questions than having answers. On the surface it seems like such a simple problem to fix: restore and build homes that have been lost but the problems that we have seen and experienced in New Orleans go much deeper than that and go beyond the damages caused by Katrina. These problems cannot be fixed overnight with the help of a few volunteers but the education we received from this experience is what is needed to make a difference.

When I came to New Orleans I wasn’t aware of how much Canada helped those in need when their own country hadn’t come to their rescue. I also wasn’t aware of how long it did take for the US government to respond. So when we came across this huge billboard for the National Guard which appears to be set during a massive flood stating “Always Ready. Always There.” We thought it was a slap in the face to the community and a constant reminder of how the US government failed the people of New Orleans.

Although the trip is over and I am no longer in New Orleans I feel like it shouldn’t just stop there. I feel that with the knowledge I have gained from this experience it is my job to educate others about what I have learned and continue to help those I have come to meet over the past week such as the St.Bernard Project and Nat Turner with his amazing project at Our School at Blair Grocery. The trip to New Orleans was only the beginning.. it is what we do now that will truly make the difference!

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One Response to Reality Check

  1. armikaipainen says:

    I wonder if these same billboards are found in other communities – perhaps Lakeview? One of the communities most affected by the flood, but unlike the Lower 9th, it’s very affluent and largely white. You wouldn’t find this in the Lower 9th. The National Guard’s barracks is also in St. Bernard Parish, so perhaps it makes sense that we saw this in the Parish.

    But it is so offensive and I cannot overlook the fact that this is a white man helping a white girl. This is five and a half years later – perhaps enough time that one could start to launch a subtle campaign to have the rescue efforts ‘remembered’ in a different way, state or official memory vs. popular memory. It’s disturbing. I hope we never forget what really happened, and how US leaders responded. Barbara Bush said of those suffering in the deplorable conditions inside the Superdome: “So many of the people inside the arena were underprivileged anyway…so this is working very well for them.”

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