When I first read “Race Relations Unjustly Questioned in Katrina Aftermath” (Daily Nexus, Jan. 17) I was disgusted. This is not an uncommon response for me to have after reading the Nexus, which is why I haven’t read it in some time. I think the kicker was the fact that you had the audacity to end it with, “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.” Dwell? HA!

Mr. Sarria, your ethnicity is irrelevant, I’m just going to assume that you know firsthand what it is to be an African American in this country, and for that reason you are speaking for yourself and your own personal experience. Dwell? I am not sure how much time you have spent in the southern states of this country – or any impoverished community in any state – but if you have eyes, you cannot deny the fact that there are gross and absurd inequalities present every day. I myself have lived in the South in Griffin, Georgia, 30 miles outside of Atlanta. Atlanta is a city that is progressive in terms of other Southern cities but still has far to go.

I met with a congressman from New Orleans at the 35th Annual Congressional Black Caucus this September. The mayor of New Orleans and other city officials/residents are not “blaming” the president for a natural disaster that clearly was not capable of caring about “race or sexual orientation.” They are asking the president to be accountable for the fact that he knew the Ninth Ward was built on a busted levee that would break completely if a hurricane of that magnitude hit the city and that he did not give them the proper funding to fix the damage left by Hurricane Katrina. He KNEW what would happen, and did nothing because they were black and they were poor and he just didn’t give a shit about it. Bush doesn’t like black people!

You name Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, but they do not endorse legislation that will better the black community as a whole. You talk about the Congressional Black Caucus blaming and complaining, but they make up the bulk of very few congressmen and city officials on Capitol Hill making strides toward equality. It is a battle, Mr. Sarria, and one that is uphill and slow in coming.

No doubt there have been “good” things, great things that we should “accept.” We all do accept those things. I thank God every night for the good because I know that my grandparents were beat and arrested in Atlanta, Birmingham, Biloxi and New Orleans in order for me to be able to sit at a lunch counter, use a drinking fountain and attend this university.

You write your piece to someone who has the luxury of taking these things for granted, someone who is not a black student on this campus. We make up less than 3% of the student body, but we are here. We do not forget the progression that has been made, but we may “dwell” on how far we have to go only because some of us hope that, maybe for our children’s children, this inequality will be a distant dream. But that day is not today. There is racism in this country; we knew it before Katrina uncovered just how much this country doesn’t give a shit about the poor.

I am not sure how familiar you are with Dr. King’s speech, but I want you to take a second look and ask yourself how much of it has really been realized today and how much further WE ALL have to go. It is not about being thankful for what has been done; that’s like telling someone to be happy with a “C” when they should strive for an “A.” You are telling blacks to be happy with a “C” when we have been out of slavery for over 140 years. Mr. Sarria, racism is a problem that affects all human beings. Acknowledgement of it doesn’t mean dwelling on the past, it is simply the only way toward a solution.

Courtney Bowden is a senior English major at UCSB.