Hurricane Katrina showed us a lot, not only in terms of destruction, but the inefficiencies of the human species as a whole. Many of these inefficiencies came compliments of those in charge and at the expense of those affected. It truly was a travesty.

If time is of the essence, then time was essentially lost in the process of creating a racial issue out of a natural disaster. Let me point out that natural disasters are equal opportunity assailants. A natural disaster doesn’t care about your race, religion or sexual orientation.

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, anyone can expect to be without government help for three to six days depending on the extent of the damage. Again, race has no play in this. It is just a logistical fact. Unfortunately, it is a logistic that has been used by many as a rallying cry for yet another round of ‘let’s play the race card.’

One has to wonder why, instead of finding ways to get help to Katrina’s victims, members of the Congressional Black Caucus wasted so much time to make the word ‘refugee’ a racist term. Last time I checked, refugee meant ‘displaced person seeking refuge’ and that’s exactly what Katrina’s victims were. People were dying on the streets of New Orleans, but all that mattered was a word used to describe the status of Katrina’s victims. Go figure?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson referred to the conditions at the Louisiana Superdome akin to ‘the hull of a slave ship’ along with lurid accusations that the Bush administration was using the evacuation efforts to rid New Orleans of black people. True, things in that hell pit were bad. But was it really racially motivated or just a case of a bad call by city leaders?

We saw the news from the impact zone: looting, chaos, violence and desperation, to name a few. We also saw the faces of those in the affected zone. If memory serves me right, there were many different racial and ethnic backgrounds in the mix, all victims of that city’s lack of preparation for the freight train they were in the path of.

If you want to get to the bottom of bad planning, talk to New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. Of course, this is only after he gets through blaming the Bush administration for its lack of preparation. After all, according to Kanye West, “Bush doesn’t care about black people.” I wonder if Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell would agree with that observation? I seriously doubt they would.

The funny thing is that we also saw Katrina’s destruction in Biloxi, Miss. We also saw a mixture of races and ethnicities working together to get the mess cleaned up. The big difference was they seemed more prepared than their fellow victims in New Orleans and were less reliant on the government to get the job done.
We saw the same thing during Hurricane Rita’s assault on Texas and Hurricane Wilma’s onslaught on Florida shortly thereafter.

It is interesting how the Congressional Black Caucus, Jesse Jackson or Kanye West et al. didn’t bother to take notice of the situation in Biloxi. They only focused on New Orleans.

But if they really focused on New Orleans, they would see a city that had problems from the get go: high crime rate, corruption in the police department, squandering of federal money that could’ve been used for levee repairs by state politicians on both sides of the aisle and a host of other problems that have existed long before Bush took office.

Sure, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response in New Orleans was less than lackluster, but again, there could’ve been better preparation on behalf of the mayor and governor. It isn’t as if the resources weren’t there. They were just not utilized.

So, on this Martin Luther King Jr. day I ask myself if race relations are better than they were since the late, great Dr. King said the words “I have a dream.” Progress has been made, but according to those who rely on race mongering and the victim mentality, one would think we’re still in the pre-Civil Rights Act era.

Maybe to them we are, as some people just can’t move forward. But for the sake of Dr. King’s dream, I can only hope and pray that those folks accept the good that has led to this day. Never stop fighting for the dream, but don’t dwell in the pre-existing nightmare because it only takes us all back and this wouldn’t suit the memory and legacy of a great man such as Dr. King.

Henry Sarria is an Isla Vista resident.