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What Lies Beneath

Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation

South End Press Collective (editors); Afterword by Joy James

Pages: 176
ISBN: 0-89608-767-0
Release Date: 2007-02-01

Purchase for $20.00

Description of What Lies Beneath.

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With an eye toward community organizing and radical scholarship, What Lies Beneath, is both a people's history and a collective vision for the future of New Orleans.

In August 2005, thousands of New Orleans residents—overwhelmingly poor, largely people of color, the majority black—were left to face one of the worst “natural” disasters in US history on their own. They were left to die in prisons, in nursing homes, and on the street. Survivors were criminalized as “looters” for struggling to obtain food, water, diapers, medicine, and other essentials of life that no one else could or would provide. As Katrina’s waters receded and the body count soared, an ugly truth (re)surfaced: The lives of those who are poor, who are vulnerable, and who are not white are not valued by the US government.

While commentators across the political spectrum, celebrities, and other observers expressed outrage that the US government would let this happen to Americans—even “those Americans”—millions outside of New Orleans live without adequate health insurance; clean air and water; decent education, housing, nutrition, health care, and work; and freedom from police brutality and state repression. And thousands are deported, displaced, and dying in prisons and illegal wars from coast to coast, gulf to gulf.

Short and accessible, this anthology, featuring such voices as Common Ground, INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, Suheir Hammad, Jordan Flaherty, and Ross Gelbspan, takes readers beyond the Superdome. It explores the complexity of this turning point in US history as representative of the nation’s direction and priorities.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition.

Advance Praise

“What Lies Beneath is a book that will keep alive the memory of one of the most dramatic and terrible events of the new millennium—the catastrophe of the Katrina hurricane and its aftermath.… At the center of story are the unavoidable issues of race, class, and the shameful callousness of officialdom. The book will keep us thinking for a long time about what happened, why it happened, and provoke us to examine honestly the nature of the society in which we live.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

“Here, finally, is clear-eyed and fascinating analysis of what Hurricane Katrina has to teach us about politics, power, human connection, and working for justice. What Lies Beneath is crucial reading—an organizer’s handbook for the 21st century.”
—Hon. Barbara Smith, co-founder, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, Member, City Council, Albany, New York 

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