My opinions and I don’t have much data to back it up…but I feel it in my gut.
Has anyone else felt like the public response to Hurricane Maria pails into comparison to that of Harvey?
Harvey, which devastated much of Houston in August, became the focus of all public attention during it’s nearly week long attack. Celebrities ranging from Kevin Hart to Kim Kardashian tweeted their support and donated money to organizations assisting victims. Beyonce helped coordinate “Bey Good,” giving away food and supplies to victims; Trump flew out and participated in clean-up efforts and Nicki Minaj participated in a telethon that raised over $55 million. The country came together to support the fourth-largest city in the world in its time of need.
I don’t feel that same support for Hurricane Maria, which is currently devastating Puerto Rico, an American territory. Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello referred to Maria as the most devastating storm, to hit the country, in a century. The island is now without any electricity or telecommunication services. 700 people had to be rescued from rising floodwaters. The storm quite literally defaced the country.
So where’s the attention? Where are the telethons? Why isn’t everyone talking about this; why don’t people seem as concerned? During Harvey’s terror there was an almost tangible gloom. People weren’t happy: fellow Americans were in need, struggling. How could you be happy even if you wanted to be?
I don’t feel that gloom for Hurricane Maria victims and I’m worried that it reveals an implicit bias. Puerto Rico is apart of America…but I don’t feel like we look at Puerto Ricans as Americans. They’re over there, we’re here.
Take a look at the response from celebrities. Hurricane Harvey served as a PR stunt for many, with celebrities boasting their support for victims. From what I’ve seen thus far, a majority of the celebrities consistently voicing their support are Latino and/or Hispanic.
Don’t get me wrong: Britney Spears, Beyonce and Ellen Degeneres are just a few American celebs that have assisted in raising awareness for Maria victims, but it doesn’t come close to the furor of support that came with Harvey.
So why? Why are people seemingly not as interested, or anxious with Hurricane Maria as they were with Harvey? They both did impact American territories. So why the difference in support?
I can name a few reasons (and I urge you to comment as well if you have any ideas yourself) but I’ll leave that for you to consider. We can’t deny that the public reception between the two aren’t on the same scale. However, we can explore why.