Never forgetting Katrina (oral history): “It’s natural for us as whites to feel that way, unless we study it…”

Editor’s Note: We don’t need to try and “remember” Katrina because the aftermath is still with us–from the trauma that impacts the growing youth to the displaced populations who never got to make it back home. In honor of the people who banned together in help, who clung to their lives and their home, and who post mark their lives as ‘pre-Katrina’ and ‘post-Katrina,’ we are publishing oral histories from the people who lived through the storm and who want to tell their “Katrina story” in their own words. 

New Orleans, LA–Aerial views of damage caused from Hurricane Katrina the day after the hurricane hit August 30, 2005. (Photo: Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA)

Diana Dunn, one of the founding members of People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), talks about her own Katrina experience and how several organizing principles set up by PISAB played out in the aftermath of Katrina. In this first part of the interview, Diana talks about her experience with racism in the past and the unexpected turn in her life that led her to find passion in anti-racism organizing.

She contrasts her personal Katrina experience as a white person with that of people of color and points out the deep rooted institutional racism and internalized racial identity at play.

Undoing racism and undoing internalized racial oppression are two important principles of PISAB, and Diana tells a story of Katrina that made these principles real.

Interview conducted by Xiayue “Patrick” Li. Permission given by both participants to post.

[Editor’s Note: This reflection was captured as part of an English class taught by Gaurav Desai to document memories of Hurricane Katrina. This work originally aired on April 22, 2014 on MediaNola.]


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