Are Hurricanes Racist?

 

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No doubt we have all heard about Hurricane Irma, Harvey, and Jose swirling all over the news the past couple of weeks. These storms have been raging through the Atlantic, wreaking havoc wherever they pass over. Thousands of individuals have fled their homes, praying that their belongings will not be destroyed. While we can all agree that natural disasters are a tragedy wherever they occur, is it possible that some individuals are disproportionately affected by these events? Of course, hurricanes themselves do not discriminate between those who are male or female, rich or poor, white or black. However, low income areas are more likely to face the most extreme effects from the storm. According to the Huffington Post, low-income residents in Houston were most at risk for weather damages, as more money was poured into rich areas to protect the residents from severe conditions. These discriminatory housing policies have forced poor people, more specifically those of color, to move to riskier land areas. This is not the first time a natural disaster has ripped the covering off class, race, and gender inequalities. According to researchers at the University of Essex and London School of Economics, natural disasters kill more women than men, by “exacerbating previously existing patterns of discrimination that render females more vulnerable to the fatal impact of disasters” (ThinkProgress). Women are put at risk for pregnancy complications, sexual assault, infections, and more. While we can affirm that all individuals affected by Hurricane Jose, Harvey, and Irma all need aid during this time, it is important to be aware of how these disasters can disproportionately affect certain individuals, leaving them most at risk.

 

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