Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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23 April 2006

Plight of Katrina Refugees Basically Hopeless

The New York Times has a lengthy article discussing the rather hopeless situation of Katrina refugees in even in their new homes. The article isn't billed this way - "Katrina's Tide Carries Many to Hopeful Shores" is the title, referring to the fact that Katrina refugees have mostly relocated to better locales than the one they left - but the article makes it pretty plain that merely transplanting people into a (relatively) prosperous setting isn't going to make them successful.

The article chronicles the travails of the Marcells, a family who closed on a home in NOLA just two days before Katrina struck. They moved to DeKalb County, Georgia, a mecca for black professionals. While the family's unsinkable outlook is inspiring, there's little reason to see much hope in their quest for the American dream. Spending their unemployment, aid money, and finally their savings on wide-screen tv's, SUV's and demo sessions for their son's rap ambitions, both parents have not succeeded in finding work and despite the flourishing economy around them, prospects are dim. The father spends most of his time trying to build a show-biz career for his son - who's 10!

Most interesting is how little spinning the authors do - the reporting is non-judgemental towards the refugees and matter-of-fact about their plight.
Some Katrina families may be too traumatized to benefit from the moves. Others may drift back to poor areas when government aid decreases. Even if they stay, the new neighborhoods may make little difference. Other forces — like family structure, cultural heritage and personal motivation — may do more to shape success.
While significant improvement in the financial lives of the refugees who moved to better locales seems unlikely, perhaps there will be other benefits such as less involvement in crime and drugs. Along those lines, the article is also significant in referencing Barbara Bush's now infamous post-Katrina comment in a somewhat postitive light.


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