Nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city of New Orleans, some prominent black conservatives and religious leaders blame cultural problems among African Americans, not the government, for “the great breakdown witnessed during and following” the natural disaster.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Tuesday awarded $4.2 billion—up to $150,000 for each Louisiana homeowner seeking to rebuild or sell their houses that were destroyed or damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year.
But, many African Americans who were living in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent catastrophic flooding of the city believe the Bush administration’s slow response to the disaster was racially motivated.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the African American founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) is not willing to blame the Bush administration. Instead, he faults what he calls the “black culture.”
Rev. Grant Storm, who is the Caucasian minister and president of Conservative Christians for Reform, echoed Peterson’s view. “The mentality of ‘government’s going to bail me out. Where’s the government?’“ is “in the black culture,” Storm said. “The mentality is instilled within their churches and in their homes—of ‘the government owes you, the government is your solution, and the government will come and help you.’
“When the government doesn’t come and help them, frankly all they do is yap and complain,” said Storm, instead of “saying ‘Hey, I better go get a job, I better go on my own, I better go find an apartment, I better go take care of myself and my family.
“They are waiting for more FEMA money, they are waiting for more relief money and it ain’t coming, or it’s coming slow; meanwhile, the surrounding parishes—the predominantly white parishes—they are rebuilding on their own, and the same way in the Gulf of Mississippi,” said Storm. “Orleans—they still don’t have their flooded cars off the streets.”
Storm and Peterson believe the federal government is also to blame for enabling the cultural problems because it fears being branded racist unless it acts.
“In general, you have a federal government very sensitive to that—the race issue—and very intimidated and they cater to that,” said Storm, who cited the example of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s assistance to Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
“Not to say these people don’t need help,” Storm said, “but it went way, way beyond catering to some of this.”