Shuffling the Race Card

As you may have noticed, there's a story, a big story, now going under the radar of the national media--the story of St. Bernard (and, to a lesser extent, St. Tammany Parish) adjacent to New Orleans. Those parishes were largely spared the flood damage that afflicted the city, but they were closer to the direct path of Katrina, and absorbed far more damage from the storm itself. They were much harder to reach, for media as well as officials, than the city. And now, three weeks after landfall, their officials sit with populations of middle-class people largely homeless, waiting for help that still does not come. A lot of those people and officials, this being the suburbs, are white. The words from the officials' mouths, passed on in earlier posts here, eerily echo the words cried out by black folks at the Convention Center almost three weeks ago: they keep promising buses and other help and it never comes, we feel betrayed by our own government.

It's odd that this part of the story is escaping national notice. It's no longer so hard to get there--WDSU-TV in New Orleans has been sending reporters there for days. Can it be that the national news directors, having gotten that remarkable and gut-wrenching footage of the black folks unhelped, feel that they've got the story and now feel free to move on? If so, they're unwittingly contributing to the wave of racism, on all sides, that may be one of Katrina's lasting legacies. To see white people speaking as bitterly and forlornly and uncomprehendingly of their plight as black people did might contribute to the national understanding, and not just of the scale of this disaster.