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The Guardian, September 3
There were a number of white looters involved in the LA riots, a fact ignored or suppressed a decade ago. And so, as a black viewer, I was relieved yesterday when Channel 4 News finally found a white face among the victims of Hurricane Katrina pushing shopping carts through the water. The woman insisted to the camera that it was the police themselves who had told people to go into stores and get what they needed. She hadn't taken any clothes, she said. She was surviving, not shopping.
The only other white faces I saw during the report were those of national guardsmen, pleading officials and helicopter rescue personnel. I was so busy hoping that the news would get across the commonality created by the emergency that I completely missed the point. There is a reason everyone whom reporters found on the beach front in Biloxi, Mississippi, was white and in some cases low-income: US-style residential segregation.
And there is a reason why the people left behind in New Orleans were black: they make up the majority of the population within the city limits and among them are the city's poorest citizens. However, they don't make up the majority of the greater New Orleans area. Black people are not in the majority in any metropolitan area in the US, though they do outnumber white people overall in the state of Mississippi, where there has never been a black governor.