Letter from Alisa Bierria, INCITE!

Alisa Bierria
Date Published: 
September 3, 2005

I am alternately consumed by rage and by grief. We are desperately trying to locate members of my family that we do not have information about and we cannot find. And I am having a hard time comprehending the destruction of a city that holds so much history and meaning for me, my family, and my ancestors.

Memories of hurricanes and floods past in New Orleans helps to put Katrina in a historical perspective. My mother lived through Hurricane Camille which hit New Orleans in 1969. As the water rose in their home, her father and other men hurriedly smashed wooden barrels to build emergency makeshift rafts to save families from drowning. In 1927, the Great Mississippi Flood poured down into New Orleans, provoking white people to round up Black people and force them into work camps held by armed guards. Black people were prevented from leaving, though the flooding had already begun. Some Black people were used as human sandbags at gunpoint to keep the levee from breaking. New Orleans has a history of Black bravery and ingenuity, as well as violent racism, in the face of environmental disaster.

And as I am searching for ways to deal with this current disaster, I am also feeling a familiar rage that I felt after 9/11/01. A terrible knowledge in my gut that this devastation could have been avoided if it had not been for the actions of my government.

But I am seeking out hope and I am turning my rage into organizing because I refuse to give up on my people.

Solidarity always,