Katrina prose

After a tragedy the media and public’s response always varies.  Post-Katrina, the people of New Orleans and across the country responded through creative expression.  Documentaries, films, songs, and poems about the injustices of Katrina abound with emotion.  Once I began to explore what the Internet had to offer in the ways of songs about Katrina, I was swept into a visual and auditory journey.  One of my favorite songs due to his surprisingly eloquent rap prose was “Tie My Hands” by Lil Wayne and Robin Thicke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXYQzej7aUw).  Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native, channels his emotions through his sadness and confusion.  His supportive tone shows empathy and hope, not unguided anger.  Some favorite lines include:

I knock on the door, hope isn’t home

Fate’s not around, the luck’s all gone

Don’t ask me what’s wrong, ask me what’s right

And I’ma tell you what’s life

And if you come from under that water then there’s fresh air

Just breathe, baby, God’s got a blessin’ to spare

Yes, I know the process has so much stress

But it’s the progress that feels the best

A poem that I came across summarized the storm, its devastation and subsequent recovery process from the voice of a survivor. 

The Night of the Rising Flood

by Nancy Hansen Merbitz

(sung to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun”)

“There was a night in New Orleans

there came a rising flood,

with wind and rain, the levies busted

‘fore the night was done.

Those with cars, they got away;

them without were through.

Wait and see what happens – hey,

what else can you do?

The mothers called their children,

they called their babies home;

their fathers brought them to the attic –

then the waters rose.

Tearin through the rafters,

tryin to reach the sky.

Then they’re waiting on the rooftops,

hopin help comes by.

Many died, and many more

had nowhere to go.

Starvin in the Superdome –

what did “Brownie” know?

The Delta of New Orleans used to

shield her from the seas;

then the plunder drove it under

oil refineries.

This beloved city,

full of life and joy

won’t be left to drown in pity,

filthy mud, and oil.

Now it’s four years later,

Still the work goes on,

Raising homes ‘n buildin schools –

Won’t stop until they’re done.

Raising homes ‘n buildin schools,

Won’t stop until we’re done –

And God, we know we’re One.”

This poem calls out racial inequalities and government neglect while maintaining resilience and hope.  The emotional firsthand reflection demonstrates the voice of the people, and that through adversity and misery they had the strength to stand strong. 

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