Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Washington Post on Kaiser Report--Does the Truth Hurt or Help?

Most of the local coverage of the recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey on Kartina survivors revolved around a superficial theme of "set-backs but still optimistic." The op-eds and articles did not report on the how the Kaiser report detailed the profound racial and income disparities of the recovery and the growing racial polarization.

The Washington Post went beyond the "feel good" platitudes and presented a clear and honest summary of the findings. The notion that we should hide our problems, especially the racial and class disparities, from the nation as a strategy for winning support for recovery is badly flawed.
Our best friends in Washington are those who are motivated to support a fair as well as effective recovery.

The second link below is to a story about Rep. James Clyburn, the Democratic Whip and the unsung hero of the Katrina recovery who is responsible for much of the legislation aiding New Orleanians today: he's the one who arranged the $3 billion bail out of the Road Home. As you will see in the article, Clyburn, who is African American and an active member of the black caucus, is on the record as saying that "racism" is the primary reason the federal government is dragging it's heels on the recovery. Strategies that rely on elites cajoling the powers-that-be in Washington have accomplished little: appealing to American's sense of racial justice and fairness has been a far more effective strategy. Americans don't view government inefficiency as a moral crime; indeed, they have come to expect it. They do, however, see racial injustice as a violation of our national principles. Hiding inequality only perpetuates inequality and reduces the likelihood of crucial additional aid for blacks and whites, displaced and returned.

This blog was written by guest blogger Lance Hill, Executive Director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University ( . He can be reached at

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