Leighton Levy, Jamaica Star, September 2, 2005
Let me start by saying that if I had my life to live over a thousand times, the one thing I would not change would be my race. I am proud to be a black man. There are times however, when I wish that certain people and I did not share that trait.
For the past few days, the whole world . . . well, at least those who have access to satellite and cable television, have been seeing pictures of the virtually total devastation of the cities of the U.S. Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina. An estimated 90 per cent of homes in New Orleans have been destroyed by flood waters and more than 100 people have been confirmed dead.
We see people standing on the roofs of their submerged homes desperate to be rescued, others being airlifted to safety, and we have heard tear-jerking stories of families losing their loved ones. But in all of this, we have also seen the really dark side of black people.
The day after the hurricane passed, there were reports of looting but network reporters had been saying that people were looting out of desperation, in search of food and water. A lot they knew.
The pictures I have been seeing are of people — black people — stealing shoes, diapers, and television sets. Not food and definitely not water. Not unless the armfuls of clothing, shoes, and appliances I see people wading through the streets with count as food and water.
Now, if all the looters were looting out of desperation, how desperate were the guy and girls I saw toting several boxes of size 13 Nikes? How desperate was the fellow with the stack of diapers? What, is it that he has several babies at home suffering from loose bowels? What am I talking about, what home? Everything is under water and what isn’t, has been totally destroyed.
And just what are those guys stealing the plasma television sets going to be watching when there is no power in the entire city?
Desperation? Yeah, right. I am beginning to believe that black people, no matter where in the world they are, are cursed with a genetic predisposition to steal, murder, and create mayhem.
The entire firearm department at a Wal-Mart department store, for example, was cleaned out and the looters used the stolen weapons to rob people. How low is that? Everybody is suffering and the black people would seek to rob people who are suffering just like themselves.
No white looters?
And it has nothing to do with poverty. Where are the white people in all this? I am sure there are poor white people living in New Orleans, Biloxi and the other towns affected by what has been going on. Is it that the media are not showing pictures of them looting and robbing? Or is it that they are too busy trying to stay alive, waiting to be rescued, and hiding from the blacks.
And you know what? Even if the poor whites were looting and robbing, wouldn’t it be nice if the blacks could have made them the only ones doing it
Just once, I would like for us blacks to take the high road in situations like this, where instead of showing our darkest side, we put our best foot forward. But I guess that would be too much to ask, too much of a case of wishful thinking.