Intro to Sociology
13 October 2013
The Flip Side of the Coin
The Great Flood of 1927 was an unparalleled force that caused damage and human misery across the Mississippi region. Over seventy-five years later, Hurricane Katrina displaced a large amount of people in the Southeast United States in the fall of 2005 due to the large amount of flooding that occurred. However, the economic toll that each region experienced is not the focus of this paper, but rather were African Americans treated differently? I hypothesize that the social aspects that underlie each natural disaster with regard to the treatment certain races, specifically African Americans, experienced less help.
In 2005, television news stations and daily papers showed photographs of citizens being lifted from the roof tops in New Orleans, patients being evacuated from hospitals, and horrendous situations in and outside large shelters. The media also covered the rescue efforts “tainted by a delayed federal response, confusion among some local and state officials, and most importantly the sense that people who were African American and/or poor were the last to be helped” (Leighninger). This is so for the fact that the American Red Cross, “on a variety of levels, normalizes Whiteness and maintains White privilege” (Groscurth). Similarly, poor treatment of African Americans was also a prominent feature of the ’27 flood. A black Republican activist sent a letter to Herbert Hoover noting, “It is said that many relief boats have hauled whites only . . . [and] that planters in some instances hold their labor at the point of a gun for fear they would get away and not return” (Barry p. 320). This strongly acknowledges that blacks were prevented from leaving as the flood worsened because they were the labor force, and to make matters worse, a half-empty steamer bearing only white occupants played “Bye Bye Blackbird as it sailed away” to safety (Brooks).
One sociological concept...