Katrina — the Sunbelt: The Work That Now Must Be Done

Katrina’s devastation is no coincidence. The impacted area is in the middle of the Sunbelt, home of low union density and "right-to-work for less" laws. The planned disenfranchisement of Florida voters in the 2000 election. Huge demographic changes with new immigrant communities. Religious fundamentalism. The largest concentration of military installations. Most votes in the electoral college. The political center of gravity in the whole country has shifted, for years now, to the Sunbelt.

It’s not a coincidence because this is where it all started — slavery, annexation of Mexican territory, genocide of Native Americans. The cornerstones for the monster we call U.S. white supremacist capitalism. A system founded on the oppressed internal nations of the African American people in the South, of Chicana/os in the Southwest and of Native American peoples. And still this greedy monster wasn’t satisfied. From here, US imperialism spread its bloody oppression of nations all over the globe.

Katrina revealed what has been there all along. From the tearing apart of families during slavery, to forced marches like the Trail of Tears, to the tearing apart of families in New Orleans, white supremacy is alive and well. There is a permanent disaster for poor people of color in this country. And with global warming compounded by national oppression, we are now entering a period of permanent mobilization to deal with the effects of free-market capitalism gone wild.

We support the work of Community Labor United, a coalition of more than 30 local groups (www.communitylaborunited.net), and its just demands for the people of New Orleans, especially the right of people and communities to assert their power and determine their own destinies. We pledge to build support nationally for their important local reconstruction work. We will do our part to support organization of evacuees "People’s Committees" in cities where they now live. And we support using the Dr. King birthday celebration in 2006 as a focus for issues raised by Katrina.

We have work to do. A breakthrough in the South and Southwest — especially if linked to developments in the Global South — will shake things loose in a way unlike one in any other region in the U.S. A class wide movement centered in the oppressed nations of the Sunbelt can point the way forward for the whole country. Freedom movements here have played this role before. They will again. The ruling class has looked to the Sunbelt for its political and economic salvation. It has all the potential of being its graveyard.

Katrina is not about the failure of Bush or FEMA. As Dr. King said, the "roots of economic injustice are in the system rather than in men or faulty operations." We must continue to do our bottom-up organizing at the local level, apply an analysis of the intersectionality of all oppressions to our work, develop organic leaders, and build a movement for liberation, self-determination, and socialism to uproot this unjust system.

Katrina Work Group & Labor Commission
Freedom Road Socialist Organization /
Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad
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