Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

When The Levees Broke

When I speak about my experiences helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast, whether formally or in conversations with friends, I am often asked for the best source to understand and make sense of what transpired.

The reality is that after coming to Louisiana for five years, after listening to the stories of so many people who lived through the ordeal, and are continuing to live through it, there is probably no way we can make sense of it.

But we should try, lest we forget, lest we desensitize, lest we excuse ourselves.

The documentary that I recommend to those who ask is When The Levees Broke, directed by Spike Lee. It is long, four hours I think, but it is divided into four parts and can be seen in parts or skipped to specific aspects.

It is not unbiased and makes no apologies as it exposes so many factors that contributed to the tragedy. What’s the point in declaring “mandatory evacuation” when there is no gas for those with cars, and no transportation for those who don’t?

For a breakdown of the four parts, please refer to the product description on the Amazon.com page. While you are there, the documentary is currently selling for less than half price ($9).

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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