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Hurricane Katrina and Systemic Racism

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. (Isaiah 58:12)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, causing widespread damage along the Gulf Coast. The city of New Orleans received some of the most severe damage in the aftermath as most of the city found itself under water — a result of the breach of several levees. In the time since the hurricane, there has been significant focus on the response — or lack of response — to the devastation the city continues to endure.

Hurricane Katrina highlights the interconnectedness of our systems and the ways in which they often neglect to respond to the needs and concerns of people of color and persons living in poverty. Immediately after the storm there was evidence that the hurricane had exacerbated issues in housing, voting rights, the criminal justice system, public education, immigration and worker’s rights and healthcare. It is evident that these issues existed before the storm and are having a significant impact on the right to return for many of New Orleans’ residents. As the Church continues to aid in the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, we must be mindful that we work to support, sustain and aid those who are the most vulnerable, not to recreate systems that marginalize.

FORFURTHER STUDY

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer, 2007 Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association Social Justice Biennial Conference Sermons

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