Illustration by Gemma Fa-Kaji
The United States (US)has been affected by natural disasters in ways it hasn’t been in many years. In the past two months, Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Harvey have come and gone, leaving devastation in their paths. These natural disasters have been treated with much bias. Aid has been offered based on the people affected.
Response to natural disasters has changed over the years. What was once taken care of by states and localities is now handled by the federal government, specifically The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The efforts of FEMA and the president towards natural disaster relief in Puerto Rico have been noticeably inferior to those in the mainland US.
One justification for Puerto Rico still being in horrible condition six weeks after Hurricane Maria hit is that it is hard to get supplies to the country due to geography. The lack of attention, effort, and urgency of US citizens and the President to Hurricane Maria is deeper than you might believe.
This issue has been treated as though the people affected are not citizens. Nearly half of Americans do not know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens entitled to the same government aid as anyone else. This lack of knowledge has cost lives. The amount of money donated to relief efforts in Puerto Rico compared to Hurricane Harvey and Irma is menacingly small.
The president did not responsibly address Hurricane Maria. If Trump chose to immediately acknowledge the impact, Puerto Rico would have received significantly more help. While it is easy to conclude that people’s generosity and kindness have worn off with Hurricane Maria being the third US hurricane in two months, I believe this is an issue revolving around the unconscious opinion white people hold against people of color. Many Americans have the mindset that they are superior. Do not be so proud of your country when you are ignorant to the truth that it neglects others.