Monday, December 05, 2005

Red Cross suffers "Sensitivity Gaps"

Nation: This is a load of manure.

The American Red Cross has launched an aggressive effort to reach out to racial and ethnic minorities and add more of them to the charity's vast network of volunteers, in response to criticism that it treated them callously during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. More than two months after Katrina and Hurricane Rita ripped through the Gulf Coast and caused tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for Red Cross shelters, the organization is dealing with complaints that it failed to provide enough translators and overlooked cultural sensitivities. The concerns have been raised by members of Congress and groups representing blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. In large Red Cross shelters, where most volunteers were white, the mostly minority evacuees "felt like they were being herded like cattle," said Rev. Anthony Evans of the National Black Church Initiative. ....Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said members questioned Evans at their meeting about the Red Cross's lack of outreach to Hispanic communities and Hispanic legislators. "There was heat," Napolitano said. "Just as Katrina pulled the covers off the treatment of vulnerable populations, I think it also pulled the covers off the Red Cross and showed they're not used to -- in this country -- dealing with communities of color in deep need," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which also met with the relief group. In late October, the Red Cross co-hosted an emotional meeting with more than 60 representatives of minority and faith-based groups at its headquarters in Washington to talk about the issues that arose after the Gulf Coast hurricanes. One major focus that emerged: The Red Cross urgently needs to diversify its 1 million-strong volunteer network, which is mostly white, said Pogue. According to the organization's most recent survey, 5 percent of its volunteers are black, 2 percent are Hispanic and 2 percent are of Asian origin. Recent data show that black people make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanics about 14 percent and Asians about 4 percent. "The volunteers that are there," Pogue said, "are well-meaning, well-trained and well-disciplined. [But] they do not fully appreciate the differences that other people bring to the party." ....But minority groups have long complained of inequitable treatment by the Red Cross, which is assigned by the federal government to provide food, shelter, counseling and other services to victims of disasters. After hurricanes in Florida in recent years, Hispanic and other immigrant communities denounced the lack of bilingual Red Cross personnel in shelters. After earthquakes in California, blacks accused the group of locating more shelters in wealthier, white communities than in poorer ones.
Let me see if I have this correct, people are mad about the fact that the Red Cross volunteers are mostly white and not "culturally sensitive" to minority groups. Question I have is where the hell were minority volunteers within those regions offering to help? Red Cross shouldn't have to aggressively reach out, they should be people looking to help especially after a disaster. Napolitano and Cummings are doing Jesse Jackson type posturing at its finest putting a well meaning organization like the Red Cross in unnecessary crosshairs to score political points. This is gutter level race baiting. Next 5 years we will hear reports about the Red Cross can't find enough volunteers as they chase away whites because congress critters interfere in the basic operations of the organization. All in the name of "sensitivity."

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