Friday, October 26, 2007

this is not "not Katrina"

I've gotten several emails in the past few days from progressives and comrades, comparing the treatment of the San Diego evacuated residents to the residents of the Gulf Coast during Hurricane Katrina. People have seen the news reports of clowns entertaining evacuated kids at Qualcomm stadium and people serving themselves from buffet lines. Did the families of Katrina deserve this? Absolutely. Were they abandoned by the government because they are Black and poor? Absolutely. I feel the comparasin to Katrina. No doubt the government left the people of the Gulf Coast to fend for themselves and that was absolutely and explicitly racist.

But, I think lots of the comparasins about whats happening in San Diego is a little too simplistic. Yeah, some rich white people lost their homes. But painting the picture as they didnt take care of the Katrina victims because they are Black but they are taking care of the San Diego victims because they are white is too simplistic.

One of the fires is burning at the border. There are tons of Mexicano immigrants and Chicanos in those areas. Some of them are undocumented migrant workers who live in the flammable canyons because they dont have homes. ICE is checking to see if evacuees at the stadium have papers ( and is facilitating deportations for anyone who can't produce the right documents. Undocumented people who live in shacks in canyons are not getting evacuation notices. Some of them are staying put because they fear what will happen if they show up at the stadium and are questioned by ICE agents carrying machine guns. They uncovered the bodies of 4 immigrants in a burnt house yesterday. They were scared to leave and died, waiting.

The Union-Tribune has been running stories about undocumented immigrants stealing supplies from the stadium, only to have it come out later that they were invited to take these supplies as they returned home. This is a clear parallel to the stories that ran about Black residents of New Orleans "looting" while white residents "found".
There are lots of low-income people of color who are also being abandoned in San Diego, left to burn in canyons or left to find their own way out.

Its consistent with what happened in New Orleans, not opposed to it. I think we gotta make these links.

photo caption:

David Bacon/New America Media
Indigenous Mixtec and Zapotec farm workers from Oaxaca, Mexico, live in a camp on a hillside outside Delmar, Calif. Relief efforts have missed undocumented workers living along San Diego's hillsides and canyons, New America Media reported. A lack of translators caused other problems.

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