Violence is the Performance of Waste.

We forget how devastating mother nature can truly be. I have always been one who has wanted to sit down and understand it more, especially hurricanes as they have torn apart individuals in my family. Although I have never got myself to sit down and discover what I have been wanting to do, this class has led me to do exactly that. In this class we recently have discussed the most devastating hurricane, Hurricane Katrina. We watched a film “When the Levees Broke which showed us mini clips with the survivors of Katrina due to the poor build of these Levees, they explained their personal trauma and how the help was never given when it said it would be. People waited days for answers. New Orleans faced not only destruction of their homes and lives but issues economically, socially, and politically as well. These poor families and individuals were left with what was nothing but themselves and they were given nothing to overcome this life-changing experience. Prior to the evacuation there was no help given to the families, no resources. The individuals suffered something that never knew would take place in front of their eyes, yet it did. I was nothing but disappointed when hearing how President Bush reacted to this hurricane and not taking responsibility for what needed to be his. As I looked into many outside resources I found some interesting news explaining the political effects which stood out to me the most when discovering how Katrina affected New Orleans, , from Wikipedia it states “The variation of weather and maintenance budgets makes finding the appropriate “threshold” difficult. Due to this “cost efficiency / diminishing returns” factor, and the weather forecasting ability the primary protection for any flood situation is the proper evacuation of flood-prone areas in a timely manner.” Which is only one of the many issues these individuals had to face. What was the beautiful town of New Orleans, turned into the unfortunate truth of nothing. We learned that New Orleans is who they are due to the people who live there, their strength and perseverance is what made New Orleans. The fight was nonstop, the long tiring days as they tried to put their lives back together were unbearable, yet they came together and did what had to be done for their community and themselves. The perseverance these individuals had, helped me relate to many course concepts as well as Roaches texts.

This semester we have been given many course concepts and resources when looking into Hurricane Katrina and connecting them to how people of New Orleans were treated like “waste”. Joseph Roach introduces that “Violence is the performance of waste” and how it “It must have an audience”, “Third, that all violence is performative, for the reason that it must have an audience even if the audience is only the victim, even if the audience is only God” (Roach, 41). Which makes perfect sense as we treat others as if they are waste and connecting this to Hurricane Katrina as the ones who suffered from this devastation were treated like waste by their own government, they failed them. As it was said, FEMA stopped contributing to the cost of their food, housing, and many other supplies needed. They were pushed to the side as they suffered. We can see violence in many ways, and we can connect it to waste in many ways as well. in this situation we are explaining how when violence takes place, we are hurting and harming one another which leads to treating them as if they are waste. Roach quotes “violence is never senseless but meaningful, because violence in human culture always serves, one way or the other, to make a point” (Roach, 1996). This stood out to me the most as we need to understand even though destruction, change and violence is devastating, it opens new doors and allows there to be change. Although, I only took negative from the film When the Levees Broke and all of the damaging stories that were told, I find it important to recognize how in the end there was light, the community came together and made what was a mess into teamwork and strength.

The two main course concepts Beth McCoy explained in class were memory and forgetting, which I have connected the most with what we have been reading and talking about in class. When we dive into these two course concepts we understand New Orleans will forever be stronger from what they have overcome, yet forgetting it is never an option. It will always be a memory as well. Understanding that this was such a traumatic event that could take place again, anywhere, this is where we need to remind ourselves that forgetting is not an option. We mentioned many other important course concepts, but these two specific ones have stuck with me when looking at Hurricane Katrina and during our readings, such as Cities of The Dead.

Throughout this class I have noticed how beneficial it is when connecting certain moments of life to different though processes. Which is exactly what Roach has demonstrated in his books, and this helps us individuals understand the society we live in and the way we handle waste. From coming into this class thinking violence was just strictly putting harm to something, I have now been informed that this goes much further than that, it is a performance with a ton of meaning following it.  It has been extremely interesting to connect the course concepts with outside situations from the past and present and I am intrigued to recognize even more information given from this course!

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