America’s shame

Faye Kennedy is vice chairwoman of the Sacramento Area Black Caucus

The Sacramento Area Black Caucus extends condolences to the 4,000 families who lost loved ones due to Hurricane Katrina and the Bush administration’s neglect and incompetence. Nearly 2,000 people lost their lives; more than 2 million people were displaced. SABC is outraged by the ongoing neglect and unconscionably slow recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region.

People in this region have long been victims of institutional neglect, classism, racism and the poverty resulting from such a legacy. Tax cuts for the wealthy, cronyism and changes in bankruptcy laws describe a presidential administration operating on quick grabs for the few with little regard for those outside the favored circle. But now the world has witnessed first hand America’s shame: If you are poor and of African descent, America is not concerned about your well-being. Perhaps performer Kanye West was right when he said, more pointedly: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Two years after Katrina, in order to restore their lives, returning residents need funds, as well as safe, affordable housing free of mold, formaldehyde exposure and toxic water. Communities need adequate health services, including mental-health services, schools and libraries. Historically black colleges also require support in the area.

I am outraged that America spends $10 billion a month on the illegal and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but is unwilling to make the same financial commitment to the families and cities of the Gulf Coast region. Under the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, people displaced through no fault of their own have the right to return to their homes and have the right to expect their government to help them do so.

Therefore, we are calling for the resignations of President George W. Bush; Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff; R. David Paulison, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Gil H. Jamieson, associate deputy administrator for Gulf Coast Recovery; Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, governor of Louisiana; and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin for their collective failures to effectively design, manage, and provide administrative oversight for a comprehensive recovery.

Finally, we urge voters not to remain passive but to demand—in writing, with e-mails and phone calls—that congressional and presidential candidates live up to America’s responsibility to rebuild those communities destroyed in the Gulf Coast regions.