On 3 September 2005 – less than a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast – I began to understand that America cared little about what was happening in New Orleans.
I was an undergraduate at Davidson College in North Carolina at the time, worried out of my mind because my family in Mississippi was still without electricity and friends and family in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast were still missing. The images of families stranded on rooftops were trickling in via news outlets, but it was obvious that the response from the government would be slow.
But it really hit me on 3 September. I was driving around and noticed all the American flags at half-mast. Because Supreme court chief justice William Rehnquist died.
At the time, the Gulf Coast death toll was rumored to be in the thousands with nobody knowing for sure. But flags stayed at full mast until a chief justice died. To me, this was a slap in the face to what was going on in New Orleans and a sign that the city just didn't matter to the overall fabric of the country.
Year after year, I watched the anniversary for Katrina pass while people gathered around flagpoles two weeks later to mourn the deaths from 9/11. Both were horrible tragedies, but only one seemed to say in the nation's consciousness.
Years after Katrina, I lived in Evanston, Illinois and learned about the warm weather massacres in Chicago that happen every spring break or beginning of summer where dozens of high school kids get shot within matters of hours. And how nobody seemed to care. Living in New Orleans and near Chicago has left me jaded to what America prioritizes or chooses to ignore.
So I shouldn't be surprised that the Mother's Day Parade shooting has largely been forgotten. On Sunday, shots were fired into a crowd during a parade in the New Orleans 7th ward. Police said they saw three suspects running from the scene.