In 2005, I had learned about Katrina, but I didn't know how bad it was as we only really referenced Kanye's line "George Bush doesn't like black people" -agreed. Furthermore, my mom, who always has Fox News on, gave a biased report on the situation (I've never enjoyed watching that station even before I knew about politics as it is a terrible and extremely biased view of many situations). Thus, I did not know the extent of the devastation.
In 2010, I would move to Houston to teach and would begin to see some of the affects of Katrina on the Texas/Louisiana region. Mardi Gras showed how well NOLA had bounced back, but the poorer homes were still probably struggling. Furthermore, about a fifth of my students in Houston were from New Orleans....that's a displacement issue.
Now it's 2015 and I'm finally seeing this movie and I'm shocked, angry, remorseful and in a sense horrified. The primary reason for this is that I've realized how much help we've sent around the world since then compared to how much was sent to help Katrina relief. I mean really they only send it troops fast when it equals the recent Baltimore or Ferguson riots. Send help fast to harm us, send help slow to help us.
The part that frustrated me the most was that it felt like these stories were both nothing new and brand new at the same time. To clarify, blacks talking about how badly the government is treating them existed in slavery, post slavery, jim crow, civil rights, Katrina and well now with black lives matter. All of this advocacy falls on deaf ears.
As such, the movie just exacerbates all of these wrongdoings to the people of America. I completely understand why people leave this country. I also understand why people come here to this country as well. Unfortunately, once you get here we'll treat you terribly.
It's amazing how news copters came in to film people, but didn't help (Canadians helped wtf?!?!?!). Or how people didn't even have food or water. Or how the Iraqi War was being funded well, but the relief was not. Or how homeowners who have lived for years could get no insurance. Or how badly the levees are set-up to support storm surge. Or how awful it must have been for families to have no idea what happened to their own. Or how basically slavery/disbursement of families occurred. All to get rid of us and take in land.
Now I highly recommend everyone to watch this film, but I definitely recommending my parents to watch as I'm just getting confused as to who they are in discussing black on black crime (then my mom gets upset that I'm calling her out) - they never address the issue and instead go right into black on black crime. On a different note, I wonder sometimes if my dad remembers where he came from as he dealt with firehoses, black power 70s movement, and civil rights protests. He keeps blaming parents (don't get me wrong some parents are absurd, but about 80-85% are deeply concerned about their children's progress). There are systemic issues in this country. As such, I can't believe my dad, who is from the deep south during a time of oppression, and my mom, who is surrounded by three black men that could at any time meet their maker with police brutality have such conflicting views compared to me. It boggles my mind honestly. It also deeply frustrates me since I love my family, but feel hurt in my soul that they don't think that I, my coworkers, my students and parents aren't trying to make a difference...even my Southern students are making strides towards college (one wants to go to USC!). There are positive movements happening e.g. an old coworker is running a strong school in the south side of Chicago, letters of recommendation for college, funding for LA schools, and many more positive changes.
Overall though, you have to wonder about where we live when time and time again this country has not been for us. While it has been particularly not for blacks, it also not for any non-white male or female (to an extent white females also face struggles). The reason for this in the United States is as follows:
Spanish missionaries who tortured indigenous people into accepting their religion and language
European settlers forcing their ideas on Native Americans
The spread of Christianity and all its lethality
The slave trade
Miscegenation as slave rape
The slow but staggering loss of Native American, Latin indigenous, and African cultures.
Trail of Tears
Chinese Railroad Labor abuses
The Mexican-American war
Manifest Destiny and all its greed
Freed slave hunters who returned free slaves back to the South ala 12 years a slave
The caustic working conditions of the South
The prejudice and mistreatment of all heritages in the North
The Confederate flag and its symbolism that protected slavery
The Reconstruction and the emergence of the KKK
Jim Crow Laws
Ellis Island (which most white immigrants - yes only Native Americans are not immigrants-seem to forgot i.e. where would my mom be without her father's decision to move to the US...a nun?!)
Children's labor issues along with women's suffrage
The World War respect abroad turned to riots and racist military tribunals at home
The Japanese internment camps
Redlining for housing
The California Mexican labor and schooling discrimination
Brown v. Board, the Little Rock 9 and integrating schools
The contrast of schools for other minorities versus white schools
Civil Rights movement
The gunning down of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, MLK Jr., the Mississippi Burning victims and more
The 1960s riots
The Black Power movement and the FBI's disproportionate response
1980s Reagan Era of welfare accusations and the crack epidemic spread to support money for coups abroad
CRASH and the police state of the Los Angeles ghetto
Rodney King Riots
The beginning of the border wall, undocumented immigrant family breakups (Yes the families are trying to better themselves, it's difficult to better yourself in countries that the US doesn't want to succeed)
Hurricane Katrina and aftermath
Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Movement (my dad keeps telling me that black lives have always matter....did he forget the firehoses!?!?!)
And so much more. That's why I ask and wonder. What has this country really done for us?!?!