We’ve received a flurry of e-mails in response to Reed Kroloff’s article, Black Like Me.
Below are excerpts from readers’ e-mails who cheer Kroloff’s commentary. Opposing viewpoints can be found here.
Thank you, Mr. Kroloff, for your article.
Growing up in New Orleans and Metairie I understand the feelings of the city and its various populace groups. When my family first moved to New Orleans I was 11 years old and we lived below the poverty line. And as a mixed race Hispanic-White male I was able to be a minority in one instant and included as a majority white male in the next instants through my formative years. Moving to Southern California for college and living and working as an architect in Los Angeles gave me great perspective on a different scale and geography of urban living and the possibilities of raising one’s self up out of poverty through the working class levels and entering the middle class. My heart was pained to see the city groan in agony after Hurricane Katrina and I was lucky enough to be able to move to Louisiana and work with FEMA Public Assistance (not Individual Assistance) on their Educational Facilities Team, assessing damages and working to reimburse public schools that were damaged by the disaster. The bureaucracy was challenging, and this disaster certainly taxed FEMA’s capabilities and exposed its weaknesses in a disaster of this unprecedented scale.
But I think the federal government, legislative and executive branches, are to be correctly rattled, as Reed did. FEMA is limited by rules set forth by Congress. Very innovative individuals inside FEMA (a sad minority of the total FEMA roster) were able to succeed in small battles here and there in helping Louisiana try to recover, but FEMA personnel’s fight was often with the rules, not with the people we were charged to assist. It is fair to criticize FEMA, but aim your armor-piercing arrows for the snugly-safe legislators in Washington, and in the local and state levels of Louisiana as well, for their lack of unity in aftermath of this disaster. Shooting your valuable ammunition at FEMA is worthless and exactly what the real targets would prefer you aim at…because of its futility. My time in Louisiana is currently up, but six months after the event, not enough people care or are aware that this is a big issue that should be on national radar screen. Not for blaming or shaming, but to continue to bolster our fellow Americans as they face a staggering challenge, one that can cripple the strong, and depress the greatest optimists…I likened my desire to participate in this recovery to reaching out to help a drowning individual. I felt that many others were simply pointing out that the railing had broken and that’s why the person was now flailing about in the waters. But reaching out to help this drowning person was the critical action, the right thing to do, not just the sentimental thing to do.
Thank you again, Mr. Kroloff.
André F. Krause
Los Angeles, CA
Cheers to Reed –
New Orleans is a city of Americans – President Bush should be holding press conferences about the re-building of our country not the one he destroyed (without our approval). This is America and the images of New Orleans are heartbreaking. If there is anything worth waging a war against it is the ignorance that this country has when it comes to the prejudice that still exists here. It should NEVER be acceptable to disregard Americans in the ways that we all have (before and) since Katrina hit. It is inexcusable for Bush (and impeachable really) but it is also inexcusable for all of us to continue with our lives like nothing has happened. These people need our help.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Two words – Ralph Ellison.
Thank you for your good work and your good words.
Jessan Dunn Otis
Smithfield, Rhode Island