Language creates reality.

Very often the first person to put words to something, defines the reality – for better or worse – and even those who know better, if not careful, can find themselves inadvertently supporting a version of reality that undermines them. With this in mind, it is, in my opinion, a huge mistake to refer to the catastrophe that took place in New Orleans in 2005 as “Katrina.”

By doing so, you help let the Bush Adminstration, FEMA, and the Army Corp of Engineers off the hook – and everyone else down the line in a position of responsibility who failed the people of New Orleans (and the nation.)

Yes, it’s true Katrina damaged some property and it was the cause of considerable destruction in coastal Louisiana Mississippi and Alabama, but what wounded New Orleans and its people so grievously was not Katrina. It was the failure of the levees built and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Attributing the devastation in New Orleans to Katrina is inaccurate and plays into the hands of politicians who would like to evade their responsibility. So don’t say “Katrina did this” or “Katrina did that.”

It was the levee failures.

The levee failures killed over one thousand people.

The levee failures rendered hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

The level failures destroyed thousands of enterprises and livelihoods.

If this is news to you, get the facts at

Black Men of Labor
Burgundy Street Blues – George Lewis

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