"waiting for the white man to fix things:" rebuilding black poverty in new orleans

Robert L. Hawkins, Katherine Maurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper revisits William Julius Wilson's thesis that class has surpassed race in significance of impact on African Americans. Our study uses qualitative data from a three-year ethnographic study of 40 largely low-income families in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. We also include a review of the recent U.S. Census study assessing New Orleans's current economic state. Participants in our study viewed race and class as major factors in four areas: (1) immediately following the devastation; (2) during relocation to other communities; (3) during the rebuilding process; and (4) historically and structurally throughout New Orleans. Our analysis concludes that racism is still a major factor in the lives of people of color. Further, for the poorest African Americans, race and class are inextricably linked and function as a structural barrier to accessing wealth, resources, and opportunities. The results have been a reproduction of the economic disparities that have historically plagued New Orleans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-139
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Sociology and Social Welfare
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • African americans
  • Class
  • Hurricane katrina
  • Low income
  • New orleans
  • Poverty
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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