There's a lot of speculation coming out of the situation in New Orleans; it's led me to do some thinking of my own.
Two very different views from Orthodox Christians can be found here and here regarding the state of the thousands of victims that were stranded in New Orleans.
As usual, I find myself somewhere in the middle in terms of what I stress in these situations.
I, for one, find it inconceivable that, in the face of such a potentially fatal catastrophe, a man would not, even if desperately poor, sell all he yet had if only to buy bus fare out of town for himself and his family. I suppose this comes from the example given to me by my dear mother, who worked two jobs all through my K-12 years in order to afford the small apartments I grew up in. We were not rich by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary; we were, relatively speaking, rather poor. Yet I saw in that woman an absolute resistance to adverse situations that, though she perhaps did not always act in the most prudent or practical manner to resolve said situations, absolutely drove her to do what was necessary to make ends meet. It is from this upbringing that this incredulity springs; I simply cannot fathom why so many would stay, citing insufficient funds as a reason. The mere thought of my family being destroyed by anything would drive me to do whatever was needed to avoid it.
Yet there is, undoubtedly, an unlevel playing field when it comes to certain groups of people and generationally-engrained approaches to life. Tragically, this often is marked by race, especially in the South, where the infamous and evil blight of slavery--which forbade that blacks learn to read, write or "cipher"--began a habitual neglect of rigorous academic pursuit among many African Americans. Of course, we know the great achievements of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison and many others; there is no denying that African Americans from poor upbringings can achieve and have achieved academic heights that rival and often surpass those of privileged whites. Yet it seems--and I say this as a schoolteacher whose students are almost all black--that many of the poorer black students are addicted to the idea that all things must come easily (for they are poor and lack the means to gain the finer things in life) and that, if it does not, it is not worth struggling for (for such a struggle would inevitably end in failure). These students are perfectly content to slide by, barely passing (if that), and many times refuse to believe in themselves enough to give themselves a fighting chance.
I do wonder if this had anything to do with why many poorer citizens of New Orleans did not undertake the admittedly daunting task of preparing what little they had and fleeing by any means possible. Perhaps there was doubt as to whether they could actually raise enough money. Perhaps the doubt lay in whether they could arrange for a suitable place to stay outside the city. I do not know, but I believe this reluctance to actively and aggressively engage adverse situations is a cross. For any impoverished African American, young or otherwise, who comes from a home life which discourages academic success and higher levels of thinking, it will not be an easy road. Perhaps assistance from outside sources--church, government, etc.--will be needed, as is often the case (even Christ had a Simon of Cyrene at His side). Yet perhaps by bearing this cross redemption can come.
My apologies if I have offended anyone by this message. Your thoughts would be appreciated...