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Social Injustices; Genocide by Natural Disaster

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” – Benjamin Franklin 

Image result for puerto rico hurricane maria damage
Hurricane Maria Damage
Credit: Christopher Gregory

When I was younger, I’d wake up at 6:30 am every day, and just turn on the news. Like clockwork letting the news be my background noise, occasionally I’d sit and watch while getting ready. I then started realizing that certain points being addressed on the news were fake, they were made up or topics that didn’t necessarily need as much coverage they were getting. I also learned that in certain neighborhoods, the news was more likely to cover crime in communities with higher crime rates. The news also never really covered things that were of greater importance at that moment stopped watching the news as much as I was and stayed in the dark. However, staying in the dark isn’t an option for me, turning on the news every morning for a kid,  much less turning on the news. My parents religiously watch the news, listen to the news. My dad wakes up at 4 am and turns on channel 2, watching it with my dog, his partner in crime. Every time I sit in the car with my parents, we drive to the sound of reporting on 1010 Wins, All News, All the time. Even though I no longer watched the news personally, word of mouth is something important. I heard of Maria, I knew a hurricane had hit Puerto Rico. All I heard was Maria, Maria, Maria, Hurricane Maria, days, weeks and months after the storm had hit and damaged Puerto Rico. What I didn’t know was what was really going on. The storm reporting was comparable to the coverage of crime for me, they were always reporting it but the things they were saying weren’t changing. It was all staying the same for me everything. It seemed as if the news wasn’t reporting what really mattered. I learned about what was really happening in Puerto Rico when I started learning about it in this class.

(AP Photo/Carlos Giusti, File)

People without places to live, people without access to water, people without access to food, people with no electricity and people without access to travel to get any of the basic resources they needed to survive.

Image result for charts on hurricane maria

It was disheartening to know that not only were people dying as a result of the hurricane or being injured by the hurricane but also because of not having access to food, water, and medical care. People were sleeping on their rooftops, and embracing the open. It was really interesting to see that people were embracing who they were and being expressive of their inner personalities. It was almost as if the hurricane forced people to be open and appreciative of their neighbors, although Puerto Rico does have a problem with homophobia, people were letting their homophobic “guards” down and treating their neighbors with respect and love people. Everyone had to come together in the time of need. I learned in the 8th grade that the United States had acquired Puerto Rico and they were a property of the United States. However, what I didn’t know was that Puerto Ricans are considered “second-class” citizens and aren’t given the same amount of privileges as people who are mainland. They don’t have privileges such as voting on the island even though the president controls what happens on the island. I thought that the U.S was doing the best it could to help Puerto Rico, however, it turned out people weren’t even receiving the supplies that were sent because they were spoiling, or not everyone was receiving the help they needed. This nation has a very blurred vision, it stands on helping people in need and reaching out to others. However, the evidence shows otherwise. I truly believe that race plays a role in why certain places are helped in times of disaster while other places aren’t.

Image result for hurricane katrina damage

There is a lot of evidence of the fact that during Hurricane Katrina people weren’t helped and supported like they should’ve been. The population of New Orleans is made up of more than 50% Black/African American people.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas there was much more support and it was covered in the news very often about how much aid Texas was getting. In the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian hit, and it was terrible. The U.S normally allowing Bahamians to come with ID, changed the rules last minute leaving many people stranded and looking for resources and help. Puerto Rico and the Bahamas? Less white than the United States or Texas could ever be. This country stands for helping people in need and extending help. However, I’m seeing that really isn’t the case. The United States has used tactical broadcasting to keep us in the dark. Is it our fault the United States keeps us ignorant and in the dark? No, but it is our responsibility to move forward, learn more and help others. 

Video on Damage in Puerto Rico


3 Comments

  1. I like how personal this post was and how you acknowledged that the lack of accurate medical coverage on Hurricane Maria made you unaware of the issues going on in the island. But now you are more educated on the topic and are questioning why things went down the way they did.

  2. This was a great, very personal reflection on Puerto Rico and Maria. You do a good job of explaining where you’re coming from, how the storm affected you, and what you’ve gotten from the class. It’s also a good media analysis.

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