FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Women of New Orleans After Katrina

by ELENA EVERETT

Shana Griffin is resident of New Orleans and organizer with INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance New Orleans. Shana grew up in the Iberville Housing Development and is completing a Masters Degree in Sociology at the University of New Orleans. She is currently working on the Womenís Health and Justice Initiative, which is a coordinating with several organizations to open a Womenís Health Clinic this September in the historic Treme district of New Orleans. For more information, email whji_info@yahoo.com.

There have been a lot analyses about race and class post-Katrina, how does your organizing philosophy differ and work to address womenís issues?

I, and the women I work with try to organize from an intersectionality approach that includes an analysis of gender, race, class, citizenship status, sexuality, and a critique of privilege. We try to organize from an unfragmented approach, meaning we donít expect people to walk through the door and drop 3/4ths of themselves and come in as a just woman or just a black person. We donít exist as just women, we do have a race and we do have a class and ethnic background. Itís important to look at things from an intersectionality – in the Gulf Coast there are reasons why things are unfolding the way theyíre unfolding.

On TV, immediately after Katrina and as things began to unfold in the city with the flood waters, most of the faces we saw were women ñ poor black women and their children and their families. If you took any urban area and gave it 24 hour notice to evacuate, it would be the same population, the same poor black women in the most vulnerable situations.

What do you see as unique challenges and issues women have been facing in the Gulf post-Katrina?

One of the biggest post-Katrina challenges is the complete absence of consideration or special provisions to meet the needs of women. So many studies related to disaster or times of war and conflict show that women are one of the most vulnerable populations. Violence against women increases as well as their responsibilities since they are generally the primary caregivers for the elderly and children. Thereís been an invisibility toward the needs of women of color in the Gulf Coast region.

To me, itís not enough to have a solid race and class analysis, because beyond those two, you also need a gender analysis. Because of the absence of the gender analysis of many agencies, organizations who identify as women of color organizations have to constantly fight to render ourselves visible and at the same time, we have to justify our existence in the work that weíre trying to do.

New Orleans pre-Katrina population was more than half women and today when you look at the statistics around housing, healthcare, even incarceration ñ women and especially black women are much more vulnerable. In 2003 in Louisiana 80% of new HIV cases were black women – in public housing, the vast majority of tenants were womenÖI can go on and on ñ those who are most directly impacted are women when it comes to the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters.

How do you feel the initiative and clinic will work to address some of those issues?

The purpose of the clinic is to improve low-income and uninsured women of colorís healthcare access and to promote an holistic and community-centered approach to primary to healthcare. At the same time we look at the oppression and violence that have impact on the health status of women and to improve those situations. Itís more than providing healthcare services itís also about challenging the conditions that limit our access and our opportunities, such as poverty, racism, gender-based violence, imperialism, and war. We see it as more than just a clinic ñ we want it to also be an organizing center that can meet immediate needs while also working for racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice.

We see our clinic as a great opportunity to talk to people and discuss why these services and this approach is needed. We have the power to reinvent ourselves and create institutions that are equitable.

This interview is excerpted from “One Year After Katrina” a 98 page report released yesterday by Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, available online at http://www.reconstructionwatch.org/)

ELENA EVERETT is Program Associate, Institute for Southern Studies and Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch. She can be reached at elena@southernstudies.org.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 31, 2016
NEVE GORDON - NICOLA PERUGINI
Human Shields as Preemptive Legal Defense for Killing Civilians
Jim Kavanagh
Turkey Invades Syria, America Spins The Bottle
Dave Lindorff
Ukraine and the Dumbed-Down New York Times Columnist
Pepe Escobar
Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, a Woman of Honor, Confronts Senate of Scoundrels
Jeff Mackler
Playing the Lesser Evil Game to the Hilt
Steve Horn
Dakota Access Pipeline Tribal Liaison Formerly Worked For Agency Issuing Permit
Patrick Cockburn
Has Turkey Overplayed Its Hand in Syria?
John Chuckman
Why Hillary is the Perfect Person to Secure Obama’s Legacy
Manuel E. Yepe
The New Cold War Between the US and China
Stephen Cooper
Ending California’s Machinery of Death
Stacy Keltner - Ashley McFarland
Women, Party Politics, and the Power of the Naked Body
Hiroyuki Hamada - Ikuko Isa
A Letter from Takae, Okinawa
Aidan O'Brien
How Did Syria and the Rest Do in the Olympics?
David Swanson
Arms Dealing Is Subject of Hollywood Comedy
Jesse Jackson
The Politics of Bigotry: Trump and the Black Voter
August 30, 2016
Russell Mokhiber
Matt Funiciello and the Giant Sucking Sound Coming Off Lake Champlain
Mike Whitney
Three Cheers for Kaepernick: Is Sitting During the National Anthem an Acceptable Form of Protest?
Alice Bach
Sorrow and Grace in Palestine
Sam Husseini
Why We Should All Remain Seated: the Anti-Muslim Origins of “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Richard Moser
Transformative Movement Culture and the Inside/Outside Strategy: Do We Want to Win the Argument or Build the Movement?
Nozomi Hayase
Pathology, Incorporated: the Facade of American Democracy
David Swanson
Fredric Jameson’s War Machine
Jan Oberg
How Did the West Survive a Much Stronger Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact?
Linda Gunter
The Racism of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Bombings
Dmitry Kovalevich
In Ukraine: Independence From the People
Omar Kassem
Turkey Breaks Out in Jarablus as Fear and Loathing Grip Europe
George Wuerthner
A Birthday Gift to the National Parks: the Maine Woods National Monument
Logan Glitterbomb
Indigenous Property Rights and the Dakota Access Pipeline
National Lawyers Guild
Solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against Dakota Access Pipeline
Paul Messersmith-Glavin
100 in Anarchist Years
August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail