Sustainability In Literature

By: Americus Burke, Isabel Landers, Emma Pozak, Danielle Scolton, Amber Ellis, Jake Elvers, Rachel Sharpe

Sustainability can be defined as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” (Sustainability | United Nations). Sustainability can then be further broken down into three smaller categories, also known as the three pillars of sustainability. These three pillars are: environmental sustainability, which can be defined as, “the responsible management of natural resources to fulfill current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs,” (Examples of Environmental Sustainability | SNHU), social sustainability, which can be defined as, “identifying and managing business impacts, both positive and negative, on people,” (Social Sustainability | UN Global), and economic sustainability, which can be defined as, “ practices that support long term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural aspects of the community,” (Economic Sustainability). When looking at the connection between sustainability and literature, we can find a profound connection between how different time-dependent views on sustainability affect how literature portrays its function in everyday life. Reading historical works “ depict an ecocentric worldview provide us with deep and rich accounts of the non-human, teaching us environmentally friendly attitudes in ways in which other texts and media do not,”(Sustainable Literary Competence). By focusing on social, environmental, and economic sustainability, we will be able to make deeper connections to the literature.

While exploring issues of economic sustainability, Invisible Man also deals heavily with social sustainability as it applies to the relationship between institutions and their laborers. Using the definition of social sustainability from our first paragraph, it’s obvious that the business model used by Liberty Paints is unsustainable in its treatment of lower level workers. Brockway, arguably one of the plant’s most valuable laborers, takes on a heavy workload for very little pay, even though his actions as an individual are key in the success of the company as far as the actual production of the paint. Not only is he taken advantage of, he is also taken for granted, as “They thinks ‘cause everything down here is done by machinery, that’s all there is to it. They crazy! Ain’t a continental thing that happens down here that ain’t as iffen I done put my black hands into it!” (19). Liberty Paints as a corporation benefits from keeping workers like Brockway desperate for employment, discouraging them from seeking union representation or better wages. In separating their workforce like this, the company is able to enact more control over their workers, which is an unsustainable connection between institution and individual. Within similar media there is also the institution of the college that the protagonist previously attended before his job at Liberty Paints in chapter 10. It’s revealed later in the book that the supposed letter of recommendation written by his former college president, Dr. Bledsoe, was instead a request for the man’s employers to keep him running. The protagonist remarks: “I had a feeling that something had gone wrong, something far more important than the paint; that either I had played a trick on Kimbro or he, like the trustees and Bledsoe, was playing one on me…” (9). The institution of the university continues to have a negative impact on the protagonist’s life, setting him up for failure even after he is expelled. By continuing to assert their power over an individual like the protagonist in such a damaging way, the rule of the university and the company over its individuals is made socially unsustainable. 

Furthermore, in the poem, “The Kind Master and the Dutiful Servant”, a few examples of social sustainability are present. At the end of the poem, the servant says, “‘Tis God alone can give us peace;/ It’s not the pow’r of man:/ When virtuous pow’r shall  increase,/ ‘Twill beautify the land” (Hammon). The emphasis on virtuous power increasing to beautify the land suggests a vision of a society where justice, fairness, and equity are recognized. Social sustainability requires the acknowledgment of systemic inequalities and promoting inclusivity to ensure that everyone has access to opportunities and resources. By prioritizing virtues like fairness and equity, people can work towards creating a more sustainable and just society for everyone. Again, the servant says, “Then will the happy day appear,/ That virtue shall increase;/ Lay up the sword and drop the spear,/ And nations seek for peace” (Hammon). The imagery of laying down weapons symbolizes the dedication to resolving conflicts peacefully. Social sustainability requires building techniques for conflict resolution and promoting dialogue. By prioritizing peaceful means of conflict resolution, societies can create an environment where all people have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the common good.

Economic issues can be found in every aspect of society, so naturally they find their way into literature to be consumed and regurgitated once more. Chapter 10 of Invisible Man follows the protagonist through a day at a new workplace – Liberty Paints. He soon discovers that the company has been “Firing the regular guys and putting on you colored college boys…they don’t have to pay union wages” (2). Unions have a history of excluding African Americans even though the general goal of a union is workers’ rights (a living wage, job security, insurance, etc.). Without these things, making a living is not economically sustainable, but neither is an exclusionary union that limits who has access to these benefits. Economic sustainability is often not a single goal, as different economic decisions benefit some, but not others. Through this, a long history of discrimination against African American workers at the economic level can be uncovered. 

Within the economic structure there is a distinct hierarchy between worker and boss. As a worker, there is a fear of making a mistake and losing one’s livelihood. Without a union, workers have few rights and can’t argue for a number of things such as a living wage or insurance. As the boss, there is no sense of fear as they hold all the power, and without proper restrictions they can fire anyone they please. Unions must provide workers with the power to negotiate; to fight back against unfair treatment in work environments. Yet the history of unions is one wrought with conflict and racial discrimination. As previously touched upon, African American workers were often excluded from unions and so they often found himself receiving lower wages compared to their white counterparts, which is reflected in The Invisible Man’s union. The progression of unions has been a complex and evolving journey, marked by both challenges and advancements and encompassing both social and economic sustainability. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many unions were racially segregated, excluding African American workers or offering them limited membership rights. This discrimination persisted through much of the 20th century, gradually improving as Civil Rights Movements gained momentum. At the time Invisible Man takes place, however, unions were not sustainable. 

However, over time, unions have played a pivotal role in reducing economic disparities between black and white workers. One key aspect of this progression is the recognition of unions as a vital institution for enforcing more equal outcomes by income class in the U.S. economy. The policy-driven shrinkage of unionization has been identified as a significant factor contributing to the rise of income inequality in recent decades. Despite the historical issues with racism within organized labor, unions’ overall effect has been to reduce economic disparities between Black and white workers, making it one of the most equalizing institutions in American society. Moreover, unions have actively contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, providing direct political and economic support starting as early as the 1930s. The decline in unionization after 1980 has been linked to the steady rise in the black-white wage gap, highlighting the importance of unions in narrowing racial pay disparities. African American workers have been more likely to be in unions than white workers since the mid-1940s, and they have experienced a larger pay premium from unionization. Furthermore, unions have been instrumental in reducing racial wealth gaps. Overall, unions play a crucial role in strengthening democracy by mobilizing workers to vote and advocating for policies that benefit workers of all races. Despite the challenges unions have faced and continue to face, they remain essential for promoting economic equality and racial justice in the United States (Bivens et al., 2023 ). Therefore, through intentional inclusion, unions have become a sustainable model for all workers, not just white workers. 

Economic and environmental sustainability clash in Farming While Black and a visit to a heating plant emphasizes connection with nature and pushes back against unsustainable practices. Also touched on is the overtaxing of resources through industrialization, an attempt to “force in nature and to act accordingly” (54) with human will. The chapters sparked a discussion of comfort and sustainability; the workshop mentioned in the text, Black Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program, is intense, and participants “ sacrificed just as [they] hoped to receive” (53). The give and take of effort and labor to and from a people and their environment, however, is not always practical. Manual labor is more time consuming and expensive than machine labor in most cases, and heating a home is not environmentally friendly; there is a balance to be found between long-term and short-term comfort. However, this tension is not black and white, as a visit to the heating plant revealed. Steve Morrison, our guide, stated himself that if one of the chamber doors were to open then it would cause an explosion. This would indicate that, by taking things the earth gives us and attempting to exert control over them without giving back “we invite a kind of death” (57). On the other hand, In terms of safety within the workplace in reference to short term comfort, monitors, valves, constant staffing, and alarms protect workers and students alike. The plant uses water to heat buildings as opposed to oil, is incredibly efficient, and shuts down heat to most buildings for breaks, all of which support environmental sustainability. Although industrial does not mean non-sustainable, intentional design is essential, and is often found through connection with nature, as is discussed in Farming While Black. The practices of sustainable farming using African dark earth; fertile soil invented by women in Ghana and Liberia 700 years ago, and heating a university using steam may mirror one another, if important connections between the earth and its people are recognized. In a field, “If you pause in stillness, you can hear the honeybees dancing on the buckwheat crop all the way on the other side of the field” (99) just as the sounds of the heating plant hum above voices.  Sustainability can be defined as acting intentionally as to protect those who come after us. While environmental sustainability is often the first to come up in discussion, all three pillars, environmental, social, and economic, are not only important but also intrinsically linked. They also allow us a medium through which to look back on ideas regarding sustainability that we have pushed past. Through empathizing with characters in narratives we understand motives and circumstances that define historical sustainability, which provides the groundwork for a future unlike our past: a sustainable future. Examining sustainability beyond just environmental concerns and incorporating perspectives from Black literature offers a more comprehensive understanding of the concept. Sustainability covers not only the preservation of natural resources but also social justice, equity, and cultural preservation. Black literature provides rich insights into these aspects, shedding light on historical injustices, resilience, and the ongoing struggle for environmental and social sustainability within Black communities. Furthermore, our course concepts emphasize the importance of looking beneath the surface, delving into the underlying narratives and historical contexts that shape our understanding of sustainability. Black literature serves as a powerful tool for uncovering these deeper layers, challenging dominant narratives, and amplifying marginalized voices. Through works like Lucille Clifton’s poetry, Invisible Man, and Farming While Black we learn to interrogate surface-level assumptions and confront the complexities of sustainability in relation to race, power, and privilege. Moreover, integrating Black literature into our exploration of sustainability aligns with the broader goals of our Geneseo education. As a liberal arts institution aiming to foster critical thinking and inclusive excellence, Geneseo encourages interdisciplinary approaches to learning that engage with diverse perspectives and experiences. By incorporating Black literature, we enrich our understanding of sustainability and cultivate a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.

Seed Shape: Looking Back

The origin of words is something that is studied extensively through history and as we move further away from them they can sometimes regain their meaning or completely lose them as they age. Like words the idea of one’s own origin can be either realized or left behind as they move through the acts of their life. The origin of ones can be looked at like a seed shape. A seed shape being the beginning of something. That beginning can be thought to be either when a person is born or the life a person leads before beginning a new life. The course concept of culture and one’s background heavily play into some of the stories we read and what one is leaving behind or regaining plays into its foundation. Two pieces of work that go into these kinds of topics would be, “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker and, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass. When observing “Everyday Use,”  the character Dee can be seen as someone who struggles with her cultural identity as she at first resolves to leave it behind before returning to it later in life. In the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,” we witness the retelling of a life that Douglass left behind.

In “Everyday Use,” Dee lives among her family and grows a dislike for the culture she grew up around, eventually leaving home and not returning for multiple years. Dee in her earlier year’s shows a distaste for the life she was currently living as can be seen when her mother made the comment towards her, “Why don’t you do a dance around the ashes? I’d wanted to ask her. She had hated the house that much,” (Walker, p.g, 1798). The meaning of these words can be looked at as Dee hating where she came from. The house is almost a representation of a life she doesn’t think suits her and that she wants. Everything Dee represents is so far removed from the humble upbringings that encompassed her childhood, to the nice clothing she demanded for her graduation, to the way she treats her sister as if she are lesser than her. When talking to her sister Maggie she talks as if she can’t understand larger concepts. “”Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!” she cried. “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.”” (Walker, p.g, 1800). Maggie is far more rooted in the cultural upbring that surrounds the quilts that are to be passed down in her family but because they can be used as memorabilia Dee doesn’t seem to understand why they’d ever be used. I’ll further delve into what Dee’s return to culture looks like in the next paragraph but it’s important to note that her idea of culture turns into someone who is on the outside looking in. Even as someone who has personal connections to the history she’s looking at she doesn’t feel any true connection to it. 

In the text Dee is painted as someone who wants nothing to do with her upbringing before she eventually returns to the home she had once lived in. Once returning home she seems to be enthralled with its whole existence. “She stoops down quickly and snaps off picture after picture of me sitting there in front of the house with Maggie cowering behind me. She never takes a shot without making sure the house is included,” (Walker, p.g. 1799). The current house that Dee is taking a picture of is almost an exact replica of the previous house that she had hated so much. One could question why Dee would bother including the house when it should remind her of something she never particularly liked. Dee’s return in a way symbolizes her return to origin, or the seed shape. The house, the inhabitants, and what’s inside of it represent her childhood and the culture surrounding it. “”This churn top is what I need”,” “”Mama,” Wangero said sweet as a bird. “Can I have these old quilts?”,” (Walker, p.g. 1800 & 1801). Dee remembers things about her childhood, but actively tried to remove aspects of it from her life. When previously offered the quilts Dee had turned them down, saying they were out of style. Dee’s interest in her background is newly founded and while reconnecting with one’s cultural heritage should be celebrated, Dee wants to use it as some sort of display. “Dee (Wangero) looked at me with hatred. “You just will not understand. The point is these quilts, these quilts!” “Well,” I said, stumped, “what would you do with them?” “Hang them,” she said. As if that was the only thing you could do with quilts,” (Walker, p.g. 1800). When observing Dee’s point of view one could make an argument that she just wants to preserve the quilts as a form of respect but based on how the other characters receive the idea that seems to be out of the norm for their culture. Dee likes the aesthetic of her culture and doesn’t quite understand the inner workings of it. She’s an outsider in every sense of the word that is trying to reconnect but doesn’t seem to want to learn from those who she deems lesser than her.

When looking into the, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,” one can gleam a very different perspective of what looking back at one’s background can look like. Douglass was someone who had grown up in and thoroughly experienced the ins and outs of slavery but had escaped it and lived to tell his story. Douglass however when recounting his experience doesn’t do it to reconnect with his background but to help others understand the hardships he had to endure while trying to help other people who were enslaved escape. “I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life; and each of these times was very short in duration, and at night,” (Douglass, p.g. 276). Douglass appeals to the heart’s of specifically white women with husbands in power to try and make change in the times he was living in. It was all that he could do when with the color of his skin he was seen as half a person.With a background like Douglass’s, it’d be hard pressed to find a person who would want to return to it, even if it’s just in memories. Many would argue that Douglass has every right to move on from his background and pretend like it doesn’t exist and yet he doesn’t. Douglass recounts every aspect of his life, forfeiting some information as he isn’t in a privileged position to share the full narrative. To Douglass it might have been seen as his responsibility to share his story in order to help free his people and so he relieved it all. In his writing he tends to give a lot of information, so much that you may miss important details. “ I will take to the water. This very bay shall yet bear me into freedom. The steamboats steered in a northeast course from North Point. I will do the same;” (Douglass, p.g. 299). In his writing he takes risks in giving exact instructions for how to escape and yet he takes that risk because he knows that it must be done in order to help others.

Looking back at one’s background and culture is an individual choice that varies from person to person and one may ask why the reason someone does it at all matters. Looking back helps us grow and understand aspects of ourselves, others, and the world around us that we may not have fully grasped before. Doing so for the wrong reasons can damage what we cherish in the end though. With Dee it seems like she ends up hurting others within the narrative with how she sees her heritage as a display piece. She can’t see past how she views her culture and refuses to learn from the people who would most likely know more than her as it doesn’t fit her current life to actually learn properly. Douglass on the other hand does it for very selfless reasons that one may praise him for. There aren’t only two ways to go about looking back at someone’s culture and background but when doing so it’s important to think about why it’s being done.

Can There Really Be an Antidote to Violence?

Saidiya Hartman’s claim that “Care is an antidote to violence” leaves me with mixed emotions. While I see where she is coming from, especially in the cases of Bresha and Marrisa, I believe that people who care are still powerless in the long run. In a society run by people who don’t care violence is rampant and no change is administered. This causes me to ask myself if care is really an antidote when it comes to the lives of other people. Wanting to save a life is something that is inherently created from a place of care, and while saving a life is always important, that life only becomes more difficult when there is no plan of action afterwards. An antidote is a cure that has no lasting negative effects, but when there are situations where a lasting negative effect is so apparent, I do not believe I could agree that care can be an antidote. 

In Beth McCoy’s Hurricane stories class there were many pieces of literature we consumed throughout the semester, the stories of disasters we’ve researched, and the images we’ve seen and put stories to, I’ve seen an abundance of “violence” characterized in these works and true stories. Whenever I think of violence in the sense of this class my mind automatically goes to Hurricane Katrina and the victims of the whole situation. Whenever my mind goes to Katrina I think of how when the people of New Orleans were struggling the people in charge let them struggle, they did not offer help, compassion, or understanding. In one of the pieces, we read called, “Unfathomable City,” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, the narrators wrote, “Oil spills have also continued. From September 2010 to September 2011, more than 2,300 offshore incidents occurred, resulting in the release of more than 2.5 million gallons of fuel and oil into the gulf.” This oil issue caused many issues for the people who lived off of what they caught from the bay and one of the citizens they interviewed said, “There’s no work. No Jobs. No Oysters. Maybe once in a while they may get a good day where they can go out and, you know, catch a few sacks, and it’ll keep them going.” If the government had cared more about what was happening in New Orleans, if they didn’t delay the rebuilding of the levees when they first broke in 1995 and actually build them to withstand even a category one hurricane, or if they even had a system they knew wouldn’t make the city more vulnerable, I wonder if it would have turned out differently. When reading, “Unfathomable City,” the authors touched on that, “In the name of “public safety,” politicians and power brokers have sought to contain the longest river in the United States by building levees, regardless of known flaws in the systems that leave the city increasingly vulnerable to flood waters.” It astonishes me that the people in power that are supposed to have our best interests in mind could even implement and keep in place a system that puts the people there supposed to serve at a disadvantage. 

 Though this situation was disheartening I will not lie and say that there was no ounce of care. Within the documentary, “When the Levees Broke,” we were shown people who risked their lives to save others when the government wasn’t doing anything. From what I remember of the film the coast guard and even troops from Canada coming to offer aid when the government was offering no support themselves. This, for what it is, is a good example of care but even when they were no longer in immediate danger some people had nowhere to go, no money to spend, and no one that was there for them in their time of need.  “From the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund to Common Ground to Emergency Communities; in the local and faraway church groups that organized demolition and reconstruction, from Mennonites to Baptists to Catholics; in the big-name groups such as Habitat for Humanity that came to salvage the city” (Unfathomable City). Even when there were attempts to restore the city, there’s not much incentive for people to return, especially when the city itself has shown a lack of care for the residents’ well-being consistently. 

In our viewing of, “The Day After Tomorrow,” I noticed a similar lack of care when it came to the people of the United States. Within the movie, Jack Hall, the protagonist’s father and a scientist, tries to warn people in the U.S. government that if they don’t do anything to prevent the rise of global warming then it will have negative effects in the future. Instead of heeding his warnings they brush him off and not to long later natural disasters such as tornadoes and a new Ice age start to ravage the country. Due to the U.S. government’s unwillingness to listen to a professional, many people die in this movie or are forced to quickly evacuate the country. 

Jack Hall is one of the only few people shown to care in this movie along with his son Sam Hall and some of Jack’s friends/ coworkers. Jack does his best to make it to his son throughout the movie when everyone else thought the people left in New York City were a lost cause. Though he ends up saving some of the people left there they still have a global issue to solve, without any plans to work off yet. Sam tries his best to stop people from leaving the library but ultimately fails in the long run, only managing to keep very few people in the long run. While he does keep them safe, when they are finally saved these people have nowhere else to go and no idea what to do. Lastly, one of the father’s coworkers who had volunteered to go help find his son ends up sacrificing himself when he fell through a roof in order to prevent the other two from falling with him. Though he sacrificed himself for the greater good I believe that the loss of one life for the sake of care is still inherently violent in its own right. 

When reading Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest,” I noticed it seemed to be a book full of only violent acts. Prospero, our lead character, seeks revenge throughout most of the play and does things that only benefit him in the long run. He uses his own daughter’s love for a man for his own benefit and shows no remorse for a good chunk of the play. Even by the end of the play Prospero doesn’t forgive his brother or anyone else because he necessarily truly cares for them but because he cannot throw away his own “noble nature” for the sake of revenge. In the beginning of the pay we discover that Prospero has promised Ariel his freedom as long as he is loyal to him, “I prithee, remember I have done thee worthy service, told thee no lies, made no mistakings, served without or grudge or grumblings. Thou did promise to bate me a full year.” Prospero however keeps delaying Ariel’s freedom as he feels he’s still of use to him, willing to bend his words to suit himself even if it sacrifices his own integrity. While he does grant Ariel his freedom, he doesn’t grant Caliban that same kindness, instead Caliban once again resigns himself to Prospero’s authority. In the moments where Prospero can be argued to be at his “kindest” he treats Caliban as if he is less than him in every way as he and Alonso speak of him as if he is not there. “ ALONSO: This is as strange a thing as e’er I looked on. PROSPERO: He is as disproportioned in his manners as in his shape.” “The Tempest” is a play with very few acts of care and yet when care is shown it is muddled by another violent act that is committed. 

Through reviewing some of the work we have carefully explored through the course of this semester I feel confident in my belief that care is not an antidote to violence. I think care can help heal wounds that have been left by a system that keeps failing its people over and over, but I don’t think it’s able to solve all problems. While I’m unsure what an antidote to violence can be, it may start at being in agreement. For true healing to take place I think everyone needs to be in agreement that there is a problem, but even that isn’t a guarantee that violence won’t persist.  

The Violence of Injustice and Its Waste of Time

The quote,” violence is the performance of waste,” by Joseph Roach was a quote that I struggle to interpret. Roach himself contributed three possible meanings to this quote. One of the three contributions were “that violence is never senseless but always meaningful, because violence in human culture always serves, one way or the other, to make a point.” The second being, “that all violence is excessive, because to be fully demonstrative, to make its point, it must spend things—material objects, blood, environments—in acts of Bataillian “unproductive expenditure” (or Veblenian “conspicuous consumption”).” Lastly, “and third, that all violence is performative, for the simple reason that it must have an audience—even if that audience is only the victim, even if that audience is only God.” Although I agree with the second and third definition, I wasn’t sure what it exactly meant to me, but I believe I’ve come to a satisfactory interpretation. To me the way the people in power in 2005 treated the people of New Orleans before, during, and after the disaster that was hurricane Katrina is a horrible violence that contributed to the waste of valuable time and resources that led to the loss of people’s lives and homes. 

During the summer of 2005, a category 3 hurricane named Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana, specifically impacting the city of New Orleans. While the situation wasn’t great things took a turn for the worse when the Levees broke, causing the lower 9th district to be completely flooded. Some people who remained were trapped there for days with no fresh water or food, in blistering heat, just waiting for help to arrive. The first act of violence against the people of New Orleans was the delay of the rebuilding of the levees after they broke for the first time in 1995. Not only were the levees not finished, but they also weren’t even being built to handle so much pressure that it wouldn’t have mattered if they were finished. In the documentary,” When the Levees Broke,” a man named Garland Robinette clearly stated,” My understanding is that the lake backed up a category one into our levees, and they failed.” This brings into question why the state even bothered putting in time to build the levees anyway. Not only was it a waste of time and resources, but it also prompted the end of some people’s lives because the job wasn’t done right. 

When the weather subsided the government’s response was more than just lackluster. Instead of the government sending out people to save the people left in New Orleans, the coast guard, regular civilians, and even organizations from other countries stepped in days before the government and FEMA did anything to help the people. FEMA who was supposed to oversee getting people food during this time didn’t seem like they were bothering to do anything, naturally the people in this situation took matters into their own hands and started taking food from stores to feed themselves and their loved ones. This leads to another act of violence inflicted onto the people of Luisiana, when people started taking things from stores depending on their race, they would be labeled differently in news reporting’s. People with fairer complexions would have headline written as,” Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from local grocery store,” (Associated Press) while people of much darker skin tones received headlines saying,” Young man walks through chest deep water after looting local grocery store” (AFP). These people were branded criminals when trying to feed themselves, and the police didn’t help. In the documentary a reporter made the following comment,” Here we have a refugee camp with thousands of people waiting for some sort of help. Medical, food, water, you name it. And then over there the police, scores of police officers. All concerned about one looter who’s in that supermarket.” From point to point in this whole situation resources that could have been used to help these people is just that they waste valuable time on doing the wrong thing. 

After Hurricane Katrina many people were displaced. Some people were in centers, other people were in hotels, wherever the government or FEMA could find to place them. Some people were promised trailers to live in since their houses were destroyed but were unable to obtain them because they had no place of residence. Every step of the way, the people in charge of taking care of New Orleans kept slipping up and making mistakes. When touring one of the many refugees’ centers Barba Bush said something very insulting and insensitive,” Almost everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘We’re going to move to Houston.’ What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.” The former first lady does not seem to recognize that many of those people have nothing left to go back to. The people in charge failed them every step of the way and it would just be easier to start new where they are then start again where they were. When the president finally came to New Orleans after days, after weeks, of never even checking the situation out, he gave a speech, one where they had to turn the power back on for. The people of New Orleans hadn’t had power in days, so when their power turned back on that gave them hope but that hope was quickly torn away when the power was shut back off when the president was done with his speech. During one of our class discussions my professor Beth McCoy had informed us that during George H.W. Bush’s speech his back was drenched in sweat because that’s how hot it was in New Orleans. This was an excellent example of a quote from,” Echos in the Bones,” by Joseph Roach where he wrote,” In certain respects the tribal customs of the French and the English, including the British policy of early recall of colonial civil servants so that the locals would never see their European governors falling into illness or decrepitude.” While I can understand this in most situations, during this time frame keeping appearances is nothing but a waste of time.  

This thought process of mine has brought me to the conclusion that the quote,” violence is the performance of waste,” symbolizes the idea of injustice being inflicted onto people which results in the waste of time that may later negatively impact said people. It is ashamed to see how let down the people of New Orleans were and how this unwillingness to act will sow deep distrust in the government within these people for generations to come.