Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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September 08, 2005

Yesterday while I looked for some tax documents in a disgracefully towering stack of paper under my desk, out tumbled the latest issue of Southern Exposure: the Journal of the Progressive South. The cover photo by Hart Matthews shows a car submerged in flood waters. The issue's theme: "Acts of God? How Natural Are Natural Disasters?"

From the introductory essay, written in fall 2004 by editor Chris Kromm:

"Strictly speaking," says the United Nations in their International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, "there are no such things as natural disasters." There are only natural hazards, the U.N. says – which only become "disasters" if communities are vulnerable or unprepared for whatever nature has in store.

So there’s nothing "natural" about the fact that Hurricane   Jeanne, while killing 70 people and knocking out electricity for 1.5 million in Florida, claimed the lives of over 2,000 people in Haiti, a country where decades of economic and social devastation have rendered the country uniquely vulnerable to powerful storms.

As the stories in this issue of Southern Exposure show, there’s nothing new about how corporate leaders and state boosters underplay the role of human forces – especially race and class – in determining who suffers (and who gains) when nature strikes.

The Institute for Southern Studies publishes the journal and also has a blog.