This article explores the suffering and resilience of Black women who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. It also explores the ways in which the pre-existing national discourse on poverty, race, and gender set the stage for victim blaming and the neglect of poor Black women and children after the storm. African American women in the Gulf Coast region are some of the poorest in the nation. Women in general are more vulnerable in times of natural disaster because they are the primary caretakers of the young and the old. These factors and others meant that poor Black women were among those most severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina. They also had minimal resources to cope with the disaster and its aftermath. However, instead of sympathy and support, some conservative pundits have sought to link the suffering caused by Katrina to the lack of patriarchal Black family structures, which they argue could have helped individuals survive in the crisis. Contrary to these stereotypes, many Black women have not only been resilient and self-reliant, but creative and heroic in the face of crisis. It is their stories that offer hope for the future of New Orleans and our nation.
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