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Water and African American MemoryAn Ecocritical Perspective$
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Anissa Janine Wardi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037455

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037455.001.0001

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Mud, Blood, and the Blues

Mud, Blood, and the Blues

Hurricane Katrina and the Flood waters of the African Diaspora (p.116)

(p.115) Conclusion Mud, Blood, and the Blues
Water and African American Memory

Anissa Janine Wardi

University Press of Florida

This chapter builds on the relationship between water and trauma beginning with the Middle Passage, and specifically reads floods as an extended metaphor for African American life on the Mississippi Delta. It contextualizes Hurricane Katrina and the floodwaters that drowned New Orleans and the surrounding areas in terms of the Galveston Flood of 1900 and the 1927 Mississippi Flood. Though flood waters may be colorblind, African American communities have disproportionately borne the greatest burden of these disasters. Driving the chapter is an analysis of Richard Wright's “Down by the Riverside” and “The Man Who Saw the Flood,” each of which stories provides a glimpse into the unfolding African Diaspora. The chapter theorizes the literary, symbolic, and material meanings to be found in African American conceptions of waterways—literal and metaphoric, political and geographic. Providing a context for reading Hurricane Katrina—a natural and man-made disaster which gave way to the destruction of lives, homes, and an entire metropolis—it concludes that bodies of water are infused with the body politic of the nation.

Keywords:   Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Delta, Delta Blues, Richard Wright, Down by Riverside, Galveston Flood, 1927 Mississippi Flood, mud

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