Money talks

Sep 152005
Authors: Jennae Mendoza

Hurricane Katrina has not only left New Orleans torn, but American citizens who are disputing over whether racial issues were part of the slow help from the government as well.

Kanye West stepped up on NBC, ignoring his script, bluntly saying, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

Former first lady Bush said those who lost their homes were better off sleeping in the Astrodome. "So many of the people in the arena…were underprivileged anyway so this is working out well for them," said Barbara Bush.

House speaker Dennis Hastert said, "It looks like a lot of the place could be bulldozed."

As for the president, he fully denies (of course) that race had anything to do with his four-day stall to visit New Orleans. "When those Coast Guard choppers…were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin. They wanted to save lives," said Bush.

Although it sometimes takes a natural disaster like Katrina to reveal a long-ignored social problem, I think too many of us are focusing on who did what wrong – which makes none of us right. We could either set up a time to fold our hands and chat about how the government didn't react fast enough and what a very big deal it is. Or we could toss some change into those 'Donate to Katrina' cans to make better use of our time.

Really, people who can't find their family and haven't eaten in days aren't concerned about your serious political conversations. Too many of us are just sitting around blaming one side or the other for a little intellectual stimulation. It would just be a little more intelligent if we put our energy into helping the victims before anything else.

Sure, you can have an opinion. That's what America's all about. Hooray for Kanye West's emotional statement on TV – freedom of speech. But Kanye West isn't just talking, he's also raising money. Whether you believe it's self-promotion or not, he's actually prancing around on stage for a pretty good cause.

We can blame the mayor, Governor, the head of Homeland Security and the President, but what's the point? Katrina's victims aren't "refugees" from some foreign country; these are more like "evacuees" right here in America.

Whether you're feeling patriotic or not, if you could step outside of your little world for a minute and imagine the smallest inconvenience in your life – like not taking a shower every morning – you'd probably be mad. I bet it'd be even harder for you to imagine not eating, not sleeping, no possessions – death.

It's really important for us to give even the little that we have. Forty foreign government and international organizations have pitched in money, numerous musicians are performing at concerts for charity, and many actors and rich people are donating. It might seem like what comes out of your pocket is insignificant compared to these people, but in such an instant of crisis, I'd feel pretty insignificant for giving nothing at all.

Of course, racial depictions have always been over-exaggerated in the media. It's hard for the majority to not see the survival raids of stores of blacks as "lootings", it's hard for the majority to understand why the poor couldn't evacuate, and it's hard for them to even understand why 28 percent of the people of a 70 percent black New Orleans population are living in poverty at all. All we really have to understand now is that Americans desperately need our help – whatever it is.

Jennae Mendoza is an open option seeking technical journalism major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian.

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