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What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation

This 200-page fundraising book for progressive hurricane relief efforts offers readers a different and, distressingly, rare approach to understanding the storm: let the people who have survived, helped, and agitated for justice speak for themselves. Short and accessible, this collection assembles a powerful jury, exploring the complexity of what is at once business as usual and the site of what could be a fundamental turning point in US history.

In August 2005, thousands of New Orleans residents-overwhelmingly poor, largely people of color, the majority black-were left to face one of the worst "natural" disasters in US history on their own. They were left to die in prisons, in nursing homes, and on the street. Survivors were criminalized as "looters" for struggling to obtain food, water, diapers, medicine, and other essentials of life that no one else could or would provide. As Katrina's waters receded and the body count soared, an ugly truth (re)surfaced: The lives of those who are poor, who are vulnerable, and who are not white are not valued by the US government.

While commentators across the political spectrum, celebrities, and other observers expressed outrage that the US government would let this happen to Americans-even "those Americans"-millions outside of New Orleans live without adequate health insurance; clean air and water; decent education, housing, nutrition, health care, and work; and freedom from police brutality and state repression. And thousands are deported, displaced, and dying in prisons and illegal wars from coast to coast, gulf to gulf.

Short and accessible, this anthology, featuring such voices as Common Ground, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Suheir Hammad, Jordan Flaherty, and Ross Gelbspan, takes readers beyond the Superdome. It explores the complexity of this turning point in US history as representative of the nation's direction and priorities.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition.

South End Press Collective (editors); Afterword by Joy James (2007)

Resource Link: www.southendpress.org/2006/items/87670

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