T Nation

Poverty in New Orleans


Here's a timely article on the poverty situation in New Orleans:


For those who were wondering why all the looters seemed to be black, 67% of the city is black. And for those wondering just how poor the looters were, "nearly 30 percent of people in New Orleans live below the poverty line, and only a handful of large American cities have lower household incomes than the Big Easy."

The one thing I don't like about this article is how the author tries to turn the situation into a commentary on racial inequality:

Shouldn't that read, "surviving is easier for those who have, than for those who don't."? I'm sure surviving is just as hard for whites who are poor than it is for blacks, and just as easy for blacks who have money than for whites who do.

Here's a perfect example of a person going out of his way to make something out of nothing. He just finishes saying that the city is mostly black, and that explains why most of the looters are black, then all of a sudden it's worse for blacks in New Orleans than it is for whites? I've seen plenty of homeless poor whites down there. What the hell is wrong with people?


Why are they poor? Why is it that any place that is predominatly black is poor and crime-ridden? Why are poor blacks called, disadvanteged and shown pity, while poor whites are ridiculed and called white trash and hillbillies and blamed for their own problems?


Yeah, white people have it bad in America :rolleyes:


Yeah, black people have it bad in America :rolleyes:

Yeah, asian people have it bad in America :rolleyes:

Yeah, latinos have it bad in America :rolleyes:

Yeah, american indians have it bad in America :rolleyes:

(insert race/gender/ethnicity/creed/age/height/weight/IQ or any other unrelated binding and confining term) people have it bad in America :rolleyes:

Which of these groups has it worst? Does it matter? Should their past control their future? Does your past control your future? Do others opinions of you determine your stature in life, your interpretation of right and wrong, your threshold for breaking your moral code?

Are you strong enough to believe in your worth in the face of a nation that despises the color of your skin? Should anyone be expected to hold their head up when everyone else is seemingly trying to knock it back down?

I personally believe that every human being on this planet has the inner strength to persevere no matter what the difficulty, race, gender, bias, laws, circumstances, or whatever other obstacles or seemingly undisputable barriers that society loves to adorn the struggling with. These terms and classifications are like the Gulag of today. Impoverished blacks in America have more opportunity to change their futures in a positive way than anywhere else in the world. And if you disagree please tell me where any poverty stricken person would be better off and why?


I think you are using the wrong word. Not "control" but definitely "influence". Without your past experiences, you would not be the person that you are. Going against the grain would require you to be shown that there even is a different option and that it is attainable by you.

My past does not "control" my future. If anything, I try my best to improve upon past conditions. However, to ignore the major role my parents, grandparents, and role models played in all of that would be wrong. My past set the stage for what I believe I can do...which very greatly influences what I actually do.

Other opinions can very well determine your "stature" in life unless you have been surrounded equally by those who judge you by your actions, instead of preconceived stereotypes. Your concepts of right and wrong are intially instilled by your guardians, and then later by peers. If both are immoral, and no one else shows you any greater concepts of values and standards, where, pray tell, would they be learned? Television?

Are you ready for a multi page thread?


People can improve their station, but, come on, you're naive, dude.

If you were born black with HIV in Soweto, South Africa, would you be living the life you are now?

If you were a woman in an Islamic country, could you rise up and achieve all your goals?

If you were born a Native American with fetal alcohol syndrome on a reservation, would you be swanning through Harvard?

While the poverty of the black people in New Orleans is no excuse for them to go steal TVs and 10 pairs of Nikes, people are strongly influenced by the environment they come from- in this case poverty which has lasted many generations, leading back to when their ancestors were slaves, and before that forcibly transported from Africa, discrimination and disenfranchisement, and other obstacles, which you seem to say don't matter, but, they are the crux.

As an aside, as for crime, if all people had the same starting points, the same economic status and education, then I believe crime rates would also be the same.


And what exactly does race or social status have to do with the fact that many of these people are causing even more death and destruction?

Hmmm, I'm really hungry, so I think I'll shoot up the place and set stuff on fire. While I'm at it, I'm going to steal some guns, tvs, and some 40s.

Being black and poor isn't an excuse for being inhuman.

We had THREE hurricanes in Florida last year. We were without electricity for eight days during one of them. Thanks to FEMA we had plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and bug spray to eat, but never once was I inclined to make matters worse for others the way these people have. And yes, I was poor. My family of four existed on only $177 per week at this time.

I can remember after hurricane Kate we were without electricity for fourteen days, living in the middle of the national forest (more than 67% of us were poor), watching the Red Cross vans driving through our town delivering supplies to surrounding areas, but not to us. We had to peacefully block the highway to get them to stop, and all we managed from that was the food leftover from the other towns, but we were happy to have it. Did we loot the local store? No. Did we go around with guns shooting people? No. We came together as community and helped each other as best we could, a notion that seems to be lost on the citizens of New Orleans, regardless of their race or income.

FEMA is a joke, by the way, but I guess that's a topic for another thread. But as most people on this site probaby haven't ever had the pleasure of having to rely on them for survival, it's a moot point.


How is it naive to believe that it is possible for humans to persevere in the face of abominable adversity? Where was Lance Armstrong 10 years ago? He had no future, not because of his ancestors tribulations but because he was literally dying. Thats definitely more influential than mom and dad's moral code and TV and much harder to overcome.

I think its naive to think humans are too weak to take care of themselves and too conditioned to change behaviours.

Following your line of ration about the impact of society's influence on an individual actions, if society doesn't hold people accountable for their behaviour how can we expect them to hold themselves accountable?


"where you end on usually depends on where you start"...To quote an Everlast song. Just seemed appropriate.

But really I do agree that people can make themselves rise up and make their station in life better...But a person must have blinders on or have come from a really good background in life to think that absolutely ANYONE can rise out of poverty, disease and the like. As stated before a child born with HIV and no home becuase his parents abandoned him has less of a chance to become what society deems successful than a person who's born into a wealthy family and who has his education already paid for...(this was just an example to show my point).

It can all go back to the Nature versus Nurture debate...Where do you all stand?


Many of these crimes are also being caused by the same three gangs in that city that act this way when there isn't a hurricane. They are simply taking advantage of the situation.


I heard this as well. I even had a dream that one of the gangs were wearing all blue and had gathered under an underpass waiting to attack the buses leaving NOLA.

I love ZMA.


I say that in this country most people can rise out of poverty. This is not to say that everyone can achieve the financial success that Bill Gates has been able to achieve, but certainly people can earn enough money to avoid being impoverished. It requires [b]EFFORT[/b], because the opportunity to educate oneself is there. Libraries and access to reference materials are free, so what's the excuse?

Using poverty as an excuse to underachieve, rather than an inspiration to rise above, will never win any points with me.

I really don't think you should include overcoming deadly diseases in the same discussion as overcoming poverty. I can say with a relative degree of certainty that the people wreaking havoc in New Orleans aren't doing so out of frustration because they're dying from AIDS. I really don't think it has much to do with poverty, either. It requires very little effort to break a window. Yes, carrying heavy electronics does require effort, but not nearly the effort it would require to get up to go to work everyday and be able to afford to just buy them.

We were talking about poverty in New Orleans, weren't we?


Well, obviously, all the people born into bad situations simply have no backbone, morals, drive, brains, desire or natural capabilities.

The world is your oyster... kumba-ya kumba-ya kumba-ya, because one in 50 million can make it, so don't tell me it's not possible.



Does it matter why the people most affected are poor? It shouldn't. the fact remains the people who were unable to get out because of lack of transportation are the ones in need the most right now. Huge sections of the downtown areas are underwater, stranding the elderly, and handicapped. There are going to be a huge number of casulties.

Just an observation: Where is bush? He showed his face the day the towers fell on 9/11 but hasn't shown his face in N.O.? The only thing I've heard him say is that looters are bad. Nevermind the fact that people are starving and dehydrated. This situation will only get worse.

On a second note--we should be morning this city's loss. I'm not talking about the buildings and infrastructure. I'm talking about the poor black inhabitants that make this city a cultural for the rest of the world. This city only existed because of the African Americans who inhabited it and now it seems like no one cares about them.


"Many" is not all. Based on the news footage, it seems to me that many of the looters are not gang members, but opportunists who probably stayed behind just waiting to get the goods. And I don't think the fires, rapes, and murders taking place in the Superdome were the handy-work of gang members, either.


And I don't think that describes the majority of the people in this situation or that this should be anyone's primary concern. the majority need help and need to be resuced. It is getting really old listening to people bitch about rapes as if that surpasses the need for help. Is that your solution to this problem? Complain about someone stealing sneakers? Have you donated anything in the midst of your shock at people stealing in these conditions? After you fainted due to someone stealing a damn television, did you pick yourself up and call the Red Cross? If not, shut the fuck up and come up with solutions instead of adding to the negativity.


He's addressed the nation at least three times now. He's heading to NOLA as I write this, and he has gone on record as saying that the rescue efforts have been pitiful.

There are armed gangs firing at helicopters trying to evacuate people from the Superdome. Why would a President want to try and land in a city that has yet to have any order restored? Besides - the logistics of coordinating a personal visit by the president would put undo strain on an already unmanageable situation.

But I'm sure I'll be corrected - right Prof?


Right. Solution? Take one gun ship, ready the weapons, and the moment a helicopter is fired at, unload a clip in that direction and continue evacuating people. Case solved, everyone goes home and they bleep that shit on the evening news.


First of all, don't tell me to shut the fuck up. This thread was started to excuse the voilence because these people are poor. I never said, nor did I insinuate, that no one needs help.

Primary concern? The fact of the matter is that people have been trying to help and are being shot at! Sorry to say that people are reluctant to help people who are "helping themselves" by committing crimes. Where are you? Are you willing to take a bullet for these poor people? No, and neither am I.

My ability to come up with a solution is irrelevant, because I have no power to do anything, and neither do you, so by your own standard I could tell you to shut the fuck up. Even if we were both able to come up with a logical solution, the government would tell us both to shut the fuck up, because they've "got everything under control". Let's not even go there, ok?

You act as though the people who own these stores which are being looted don't deserve to have their property respected.

Bitching about rapes? So now women aren't entitled to have their bodies respected, either?

Donate? As a matter of fact, no. I refuse to donate to the Red Cross so that Madam President can take her $258K off the top. It is my choice and I choose not to. I've lived through hurricanes. I know how these agencies operate.

Faint? Yes, I have fainted after having gone eight days without electricity, running water and only paper towels, toilet paper and bug spray from these "helpful" agencies.

I don't know how my comments on this obscure website "adds to the negativity". I haven't shot, raped or stole from anyone. Put the blame where it belongs, on the people who are doing negative things.