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Fascinating. Made in 2007 to document the evacuation of 600 African-Americans to Utah, this film stretched my mind to consider how well we (well really, how well I) love others. More than that, it brings us to look inward at ourselves and our own stereotypes and fears of those different than ourselves to ask what we would have done were we in the same or a similar situation. 

Oddities for sure...

Judgment for people not leaving the city and calling them unfit to have children and pets when they had no way to evacuate the city. Why not just tell the people that they were being flown to Utah? Why frisk them when they landed and were invited into the hospitality stations? Why put them on a military base in the middle of the desert, away from the city? 

Disconcerting in many ways, this film does call into question government neglect and quite possibly a conspiracy with regards to the levies. It also enlightens the segregation used by the church of Latter Day Saints against blacks and the lack of diversity in the state of Utah and in particular Salt Lake City. Though not surprised that these things do occur, I was disappointed in myself for how little I'd known about this evacuation and Hurricane Katrina and its fallout. The initial desire to be appalled and cast my stones toward the legal entities and people like the colonel in the movie (the way he spoke made me giggle, I can't explain why) was squelched when at the end of the film, several of those who proposed to shine a light on the disparity of treatment for those left behind in New Orleans, shone the light at my own heart.

While I certainly was uncomfortable with some of the issues related to race and poverty, I can think of nothing that I did in order to help my fellow Americans in New Orleans. We are invited to watch the devastation on television, but not really called to change our own lives to help - not just in this situation but to be helpers of one another. The Bible calls me to 'love one another' and does not attach race or wealth to it. It is a calling to serve and love and we are a nation in need of it.

To admit my full and open heart in this post, I will encourage you to watch the movie. It is challenging, for many different reasons. One confession that I had to admit to myself is that I did not "see" myself on the screen. I could not feel their displacement, their discouragement and depression because I can no longer relate to living in the poverty that the people in this documentary were shown as having experienced. I distanced myself and my blackness and categorized it in my rights and my impression of what I think I would have done. Well, I wouldn't have allowed myself to be in that situation in the first place. 

Wow.

I'm just being honest with myself and sharing it with you. I won't say I'm embarrassed but I will admit that it makes me want to learn more about why I think this way. Many of the evacuees that were interviewed in this film referred to God and Him giving them a second chance to start fresh. Of the 600 who were evacuated to Utah, 100 of them remained there. Lots of scenes showing people praying and worshiping God were encouraging to my heart and convicting as well. They did not seem driven by anger, but had real issues that were unresolved and even more pronounced moving away from where they'd grown up and made their lives. They had hope while admitting the challenges of the move and thanked God for the move, trusting that He had a plan for them in all of it. 

Still, I am hard pressed to move away from considering how a superpower in the free world could not be better prepared for a disaster like this one. And am still wondering if it were 600 white people who lived in poverty or better yet, 600 middle to upper class citizens - black, white or other - would there have been a different protocol for 'helping' those in need. Really.

Surely there are other sides to the thoughts shared in this documentary. Certainly, there were sound bites taken to make the point(s) the director wanted the audience to hear. Overall though, it made me uncomfortable to think and have to accept that if I were Regina escaping Katrina with little to no money, no education and the same skin I'm in, would I have been frisked after landing in Utah? 

Watch this film and decide what you will do.



 


Matt
02/05/2013 10:44

Haven't seen it, but I'll try to get it in soon. But we did see "The Impossible" which was about one family's survival story during the Tsunami of 2004. 200,000 dead in an instant. Hard to watch. (Don't see it unless you want to cry...a lot.) But it made me have a similar reaction...what was I doing. I certainly knew about it. I watched it on TV. I didn't even donate anything to a relief agency. Same with Haiti earthquakes. Same with East Cost Storms last year.
I think what it comes down to (for me) is that I've not made a plan to give as God reveals to me situations where people are in need. And I've not had the gratitude for my blessings enough to share them. (Think 10 lepers). Good thoughts. I'll meditate on, and better, move toward a change in this area!

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02/06/2013 12:33

Ok... wow. I missed this movie somehow. Adding it to my list of things to do. I am struck by, and truly appreciate your candor. I am also feeling convicted by the things I haven't actually DONE to help with the many tragedies that seem to strike our country and the world as of late. While I did donate to Katrina, I recall (after reading this) that I was all fired up about going down to New Orleans to support the rebuilding efforts through Habitat for Humanity. Yet, while I registered for more information about volunteering, I never really acted on it... That is convicting. Something to meditate and pray on. Thank you for sharing this.

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