Synopses & Reviews
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 todays 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.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There's less original reporting here than analysis....But the annotation is thorough, and Dyson...weaves it all together with prose that is resonant and rightly angry." Washington Post
"If Dyson's account at times seems a bit rushed, the book still comes not a moment too soon....Dyson poses questions about a failure in race and class relations, questions that extend far beyond the New Orleans crescent." San Francisco Chronicle
Readers will discover what Hurricane Katrina revealed about the fault lines of race and poverty in America and what lessons must be learned from the flood from bestselling Rhip hop intellectualS Michael Eric Dyson.
Displaying the intellectual rigor, political passion, and personal empathy that have won him acclaim, Dyson offers a searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina. He warns that society must acknowledge that Katrina was more than an engineering or emergency response failure.
A searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina combining interviews with survivors of the disaster and the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation.
About the Author
Michael Eric Dyson, an ordained Baptist minister, is the author of Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves & Demons of Marvin Gaye, The Michael Eric Dyson Reader, Open Mike, Holler if You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, Why I Love Black Women, I May Not Get There With You, Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line, Between God and Gangsta Rap, Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X, and Reflecting Black. Now the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, he lives in Philadelphia.