The insinuation was that response to the victims of the hurricane was slower due to the fact they were black. By now everyone has heard Kanye West's famous quote:
George Bush doesn't care about black people.The reaction from many notable African-American politicians was similar. From Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton, the federal response was chastized.
Despite the fact I knew there was an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, I was still surprised when the magnitude was revealed. The difference in opinion between blacks and whites on the response to the hurricane was marked. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken last weekend said:
37 percent [held Bush] most to blame for the fact that many residents were trapped inside the city after it flooded.Wow, talk about a difference of opinion.
Twenty percent of blacks primarily blamed New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, 11 percent blamed the residents themselves and 27 percent blamed no one at all.
Among whites, 29 percent blamed Nagin, 27 percent blamed the residents, 15 percent blamed Bush and 24 percent held no one responsible.
Now this post is not to say who's right and who's wrong. However, there is quite a disparity here. It hearkens back to past events that have split the population along racial lines. Most blacks thought O.J. was innocent, most whites thought he was guilty. Blacks thought Michael Jackson was innocent, whites think he's guilty. Stereotyping, yes, but generally true.
The reaction to the hurricane only serves to remind us yet again that, yes, there is somewhat of a racial chasm in our country. The question becomes: Why is this and what does it mean?