Katrina: Africans in America face trial by racist media

By The Ligali Organisation | Fri 2 September 2005

US prioritises protecting property with shoot to kill orders over rescuing African lives

Following the disaster wrought on the US after the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, the US government has prioritised sending troops with shoot to kill orders to protect damaged property over rendering aid to African American citizens. In not wanting to challenge this inhumane press friendly choice of state action, the media has decided to fuel global national debates by stereotyping African American survivors as ‘mobs’ and ‘looters’ descending into ‘anarchy’. Racist newspapers have also published explicit images of African people who have passed away stripping them of their dignity and humanity even in death.

African American survivor risks life seeking provisions for family

The population of New Orleans is almost seventy percent African American. This supposedly should not matter in a ‘developed country’ (sic) like America but it did. When the warnings came to evacuate the region, it was only the affluent and less disadvantaged who had resources such as cars that were able to leave. The rest were forced to brave the storm alone, that rest were predominantly Africans.

In the following days the media labelled the region as being comparable to the ‘Third World’. Europeans filmed scavenging for food were survivors, African people doing the same were labelled looters. The US Governments response was not to prioritise a rescue campaign to evacuate citizens whilst delivering food, water and medicine, instead it set a shoot-to-kill policy for armed troops who were ordered to protect abandoned water damaged property at all costs. We all know that if it had been an African government that had issued a shoot to kill order to stop survivors searching for food then the western media would be united in its condemnation of the policy as barbaric and uncivilised.

But seeing that the media places such a low value on African lives the agenda was set accordingly. The focus on economic loss as opposed to human losses has permeated the national press despite the fact thousands of African Americans have lost their lives. The plight of the abandoned African Americans struggling to survive without water, electricity and food is capitalised on as the media makes countless of reports on the political and economic implications of the devastation.

The reality of the situation is that the socio-economic inequality faced by African Americans has once again manifested its malevolence by showing how when the going gets tough, Europeans will just leave under-resourced African people to die. There are no wealthy people still struggling to survive in New Orleans, they left along time ago with their assets safely preserved out of harms way.

President Bush has smirked, smiled and helped launch a fund raising appeal where millionaires beg the impoverished to dig deep and help save these poor African 'refugees'. This is a ludicrous state of affairs that can only occur in a racist western society which places more value on maintaining its illegitimately gained economic power from those it has raped and abused, than protecting the innocent and challenging the ignorance of tax payers who fund and therefore perpetuate these acts of persistant malevolence.

The majority of media footage has almost exclusively showed that the most affected in this tragedy are impoverished African Americans. Yet no-one to date in the mainstream media seems to want to ask the question that every African in the Diaspora wants asked, the question to which every African on the Continent knows the answer, but that which Africans in America refuse to recognise as the truth.

If the majority of those dying and struggling to survive in New Orleans had been European would the US response have been exactly the same?

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