I’ve finally seen the entire video of Kanye West’s rant on Friday night’s charity concert. I wish West’s statement had been a bit more eloquent, well thought out, and less emotional than he was because for the most part, I agree with it.
It is universally accepted that the United States, state of Lousiana, and city of New Orleans were not prepared for Katrina. While West put the blamed racism, I think that his assessment puts too much focus on race and not enough on class. I don’t think that the govermnet let people die intentionally. I do think that the lack of preparation is because a poorer area like New Orleans does not get the attention or dollars needed to solve the problems that ail them. We knew this would happen some day but no one did a thing. Don’t tell me there wasn’t money. The government decided to spend its money elsewhere. Elsewhere means places like Alaska where $941 million in pet highway projects such as a mile- long bridge serving 50 residents and costing $223 million. What would that money have done forthe Levee situation in Lousiana?
The rich can pick up the phone and demand that something be done. They can actually reach their congressmen and senators and get a response; poor people can’t do this and therefore rely on their local representatives to demand their fare share.
Part of the problem are the assumptions that were made prior to the hurricane. The city was evacuated; every man and woman for themselves, but if you’re poor and don’t own a car how do you leave? And once you leave, where do you go? How do you afford it? There have been stories of price gouging by hotels as well as the gas prices doing what they’ve done. How can the poor afford it? Those of us that make a living wage don’t concern ourselves with these types of issues.
My point is that every government dollar we waste in this country on fabulous sports stadiums, keeping military bases open that aren’t needed, raising politician salaries is a dollar that is taken away from the people that need the money the most.
Kanye West sounded like a madman. Because of this, I fear that the point he was trying to make will be dismissed. It shouldn’t be lost. We as a country failed these people. They were forgotten and we could have done better. We had a choice and the question is why didn’t we make the correct one?