During the week after Father’s Day, I received a number of interesting emails from readers asking me to write about the dearth of looting after the recent floods in Iowa. Specifically, they wanted me to write about the reason there was so much more looting in New Orleans after Katrina hit the “Chocolate City” in 2005. Of course, the problem involves so much more than race – a factor most people are thinking about, even if they won’t admit it.
That people would oversimplify many post-Katrina problems as “race problems” is unfortunate but somewhat understandable. I recall watching a Fox News reporter standing on a bridge in a flooded area of New Orleans just after Katrina. When the first black individual came wading out of the projects the reporter was simply astounded. Like me, the reporter had no idea that folks had been sitting in the projects waiting for someone to come and escort them out of harm’s way.
It was also sad to see that it was one black face after another emerging from the flooded waters. And it was sadder still that the words “we need” were the first spoken into the camera by these citizens – all utterly unprepared to provide for themselves and their families.
But of course the ugliest scenes were yet to come as looters would turn downtown New Orleans into a place more like downtown Baghdad. Some of the looters who would participate in the destruction of their own neighborhoods would later suggest that they were entitled to loot because of years and years of “oppression.”
Of course, talk of historical oppression goes a long way towards explaining why blacks would be more inclined to loot than whites. But it doesn’t go far towards explaining the fact that looters are predominantly male rather than female. At some point, variables other than race have to be written into the equation.
There is another observation that is just as obvious as the fact that black males are more likely than black females to take advantage of the opportunity to loot as a means of eradicating historical oppression. I am referring, of course, to the fact that black females are more likely than black males to take advantage of affirmative action as a means of eradicating historical oppression. In fact, overall differences between blacks and whites - in important areas including income and education – are largely due to the failures of black males relative to everyone else in society, including black females.