The Colors of Long Beach?

Three months later, this project continues to intrigue me. Again and again, my expectations are challenged. Now that I have entered the later stages of analysis, I am continually surprised by the overwhelming solidarity present on this particular FB page. In the midst of this solidarity, one nagging thought persists: where does race and ethnicity fit in these discussions? Early on this blog I posted:

Image

In reading “Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Disaster Vulnerability” in the Handbook of Disaster Research, I began to reconsider my original inquiry.  In this chapter, Bob Bolin discusses the (lacking) presence of racial/ethnic analysis in the disaster-related research literature. The issue of race/ethnicity in disaster research is complicated for multiple reasons. First, race and ethnicity must be examined not only with a contemporary lens, but with greater attention to historical implications of the present condition; Bolin suggests disaster research should consider the effects of environmental racism: “detailed, historically informed analyses of class and race in the production of urban spaces.” (127) Historically, minorities have been legally excluded from living in certain spaces and forcibly or coercively placed in segregated, typically less resourced neighborhoods. In regard to racial segregation and disasters, “Bolin and Stanford (1999) argued that vulnerability in the United States related most closely to people’s capacities to either avoid or cope with hazard losses, capacities influenced by access to recovery assistance and other social protections linked to class privilege.” (125) To address potential differences in disasters faced by racial/ethnic groups, researchers may choose to pay greater attention to what resources are available to populations, and how precisely these populations navigate the processes necessary to acquire adequate assistance.  The latter part of this quote identifies the second complication related to race/ethnic analysis work: race in America frequently is tied to class divisions. Many of the historical and contemporary barriers faced by minority populations have resulted in socioeconomic divides. Navigating the ties between class and race may prove difficult for researchers, but the task is a crucial component to understanding the varying experiences of people affected by disasters and creating equitable disaster protection and recovery policies.

As I analyze the posts on the LB Hurricane Information page I notice a lack of racial/ethnic dialogue. Sure, this space may not naturally provide for racial language, yet the assumed racial/ethnic background of the vast majority of posters to this page is devoid of color. From a basic glance at profile pictures, I offer the majority of participants on this page are white. To be sure, the rest of this post will operate off of this assumption which may not be wholly accurate and is therefore open to oppositional assessment. Moving forward, I am curious about the absence of racial diversity on this FB page. What does this say about the Long Beach community? Maybe, this page speaks more to the people who have access to the FB page versus representation of the actual residents. I would like to learn more about spatial differences (if any) of minority residents. If these differences exist, are there resulting differences in the manner of which minorities experienced the storm and engage in the recovery process? If our team had more time to further this project, I would love to further investigate the sociospatial landscape and engage in an ethnographic effort to better elucidate the minority experience in Long Beach post Hurricane Sandy.   

 

Bolin B (2006) Race,class,ethnicity, and disaster vulnerability. In: Rodríguez H, Quarantelli EL and Dynes RR (eds) Handbook of Disaster Research. New York:
Springer, 113–129.

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monica byrne

writer . playwright . artist . activist . traveler

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