Come Hell or High Water

( 2 )

Overview

When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government’s slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since the levees broke, we have failed to confront the disaster’s true lesson: to be poor, or black, in today’s ownership society, is to be left ...

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Overview

When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black; nearly all were poor. The Federal government’s slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since the levees broke, we have failed to confront the disaster’s true lesson: to be poor, or black, in today’s ownership society, is to be left behind. Displaying the intellectual rigor, political passion, and personal empathy that have won him acclaim and fans all across the color line, Michael Eric Dyson offers a searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina. Combining interviews with survivors of the disaster with his deep knowledge of black migrations and government policy over decades, Dyson provides the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation. He explores the legacy of black suffering in America since slavery and ties its psychic scars to today’s crisis. And, finally, his critique of the way black people are framed in the national consciousness will shock and surprise even the most politically savvy reader. With this clarion call Dyson warns us that we can only find redemption as a society if we acknowledge that Katrina was more than an engineering or emergency response failure. From the TV newsroom to the Capitol Building to the backyard, we must change the way we relate to the black and the poor among us. What’s at stake is no less than the future of democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When Hurricane Katrina thrashed across the Southeast in August 2005, its tempestuous winds and uncontrolled flooding left over 1,800 people dead and caused more than $81 billion in damage. But, according to African-American scholar Michael Eric Dyson, this unprecedented disaster also left something else in shreds: American myths of race and class. Dyson's Come Hell or High Water examines the high human cost of government policies heavily weighted against the poor and the disenfranchised. Combining interviews and analysis, the controversial author of Is Bill Cosby Right? discusses how seldom-articulated concepts of inequality play out in real-world disasters like Katrina.
Publishers Weekly
The first major book to be released about Hurricane Katrina, Dyson's volume not only chronicles what happened when, it also argues that the nation's failure to offer timely aid to Katrina's victims indicates deeper problems in race and class relations. Dyson's time lines will surely be disputed, his indictments of specific New Orleans failures defended or whitewashed. But these points are secondary. More important are the larger questions Dyson (Between God and Gangsta Rap, etc.) poses, such as "What do politicians sold on the idea of limited governance offer to folk who need, and deserve, the government to come to their aid?" "Does George Bush care about black people?" and "Do well-off black people care about poor black people?" With its abundance of buzz-worthy coinages, like "Aframnesia" and "Afristocracy," Dyson's populist style sometimes gets too cute. But his contention that Katrina exposed a dominant culture pervaded not only by "active malice" toward poor blacks but also by a long history of "passive indifference" to their problems is both powerful and unsettling. Through this history of neglect, Dyson suggests, America has broken its social contract with poor blacks who, since Emancipation, have assumed that government will protect all its citizens. Yet when disaster struck the poor, the cavalry arrived four days late. (Jan. 16) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465017720
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 7/2/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 794,814
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. He is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents


Preface: Pompeii and 8/29     ix
Unnatural Disasters: Race and Poverty     1
Does George W. Bush Care About Black People?     16
The Politics of Disaster     34
Hurricane and Hesitation     54
Levees and Lies     76
Follow the Leader?     88
Guns and Butter (or FEMA-nizing Disaster)     108
Capitalizing on Disaster     128
Frames of Reference: Class, Caste, Culture, and Cameras     140
Supernatural Disasters? Theodicy and Prophetic Faith     178
Epilogue: Transforming the Jericho Road     203
Afterword: Great Migrations?     213
Notes     223
Acknowledgments     257
Index     259
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 7, 2010

    Cultural Perspective of the Hurricane Katrina Disaster

    Dr. Dyson provides an indepth, analytical point of view of the events leading to the tragic events in New Orleans. This book provides insight into the governmental oversight along with the tough of war at each level. Despite years of warning, the government at each level preferred to ignore leading experts in the field. Readers will develop an understanding of how the levels of government work with and against each other. This is this first insightful and reflective book providing the accounts from survivors of this disaster.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2006

    Great Documentary.

    The Katrina Disaster was unfortunate, yet our nation's response was a disaster. I'm happy someone decided to document this to search behind the scenes about the 'lack of care and attention' our African-Americans received. Thank you Michael Eric Dyson.

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