Teaching about Racism & Hurricane Katrina

I’m off this morning for a long day of teaching and meetings. And, I’m looking forward to teaching about racism and Hurricane Katrina (as much as anyone can with such grim subject matter). Since I currently teach in an Urban Public Health program, in the class we’ll be focusing a lot on the health consequences of the human-created disaster that followed the hurricane. For example, the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University has published a report called “On the Edge,” about the health impact of the disaster particularly on children. This study, the first comprehensive face-to-face field survey of residents in FEMA shelters based in Louisiana, was conducted in February 2006 by David Abramson PhD, MPH and Richard Garfield RN, DrPH, has found that:

34% of children living in FEMA-subsidized housing have at least one diagnosed chronic medical condition, a rate one-third higher than that of the general pediatric population in the United States.

And, these kids are predominantly African American. In the class, we’ll also be reading Michael Eric Dyson’s Come Hell or High Water, and screening Spike Lee’s documentary, When the Levees Broke. One of the pedagogical goals is to get across the notion of institutionalized discrimination. An additional goal is to get some of those in the class to post a comment or two here. šŸ˜‰ More on this as the course unfolds.