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THE BLAME GAME: Racialized Responses to Hurricane Katrina

  • Kathryn A. Sweeney (a1)

Response to Hurricane Katrina and public commentary by high-profile individuals has made race a focus in the media and brought racial inequality to the attention of people in the United States. Analyzing responses to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I find that, even after this very public event that brought race to the forefront in the U.S., people relied on the ideologies of meritocracy and color blindness to rationalize inequality. Findings of how the myth of meritocracy is utilized, along with how people argue against it, can be used to keep race at the forefront of the nation's attention while furthering discussions of inequality. The academic community is challenged to keep the voices of alternative ideologies in the spotlight and to use the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina to create change.

Corresponding author
Kathryn A. Sweeney, Department of Sociology, 1555 Dickey Drive, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322. E-mail:
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This paper would not have emerged without conversations with and the constant support of Dave Brewington. Thank you to Delores P. Aldridge, Anne Borden, Cindy Hinton, and Nital Patel, for their time, comments, and ideas. And finally, thank you to all those who continue to help me see my own privilege along with systemic racism, and to those who will do something to help create social change.
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Bobo, Lawrence (1998). Race, Interests, and Beliefs about Affirmative Action. American Behavioral Scientist, 41: 9851003.

Darden, Joe (1997). Racial Inequality of Enrollment in Selected U.S. Institutions of Higher Education. Equity and Excellence in Education, 30: 4755.

Edwards, Margie L. Kiter (1998). An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Disasters and Stress: The Promise of an Ecological Framework. Sociological Forum, 13(1): 115132.

King, Deborah (1989). Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness: The Context of a Black Feminist Ideology. Signs, 14: 4272.

Kreps, G. A. (1984). Sociological Inquiry and Disaster Research. Annual Review of Sociology, 10: 309330.

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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
  • URL: /core/journals/du-bois-review-social-science-research-on-race
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