I Know That You’ve Already Forgotten This, But…

the residents of Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands are still in dire need of assistance, and they are your fellow American citizens. If you truly have empathy for others, and you really want to help your fellow Americans, then why aren’t you doing so? Quit talking and do something already! Following are links to reputable organizations which are doing their best to provide assistance.

Direct Relief

American Red Cross

Americares

Humane Society of the United States

Here, too, is an informative article about those territories and how hurricane relief isn’t the only problem they’re facing. Following is a small portion of it, from The Atlantic:

Puerto Rico Needs More Than Relief—It Needs Reconstruction

Recovering from the devastation of two hurricanes raises tough questions about the legacy of American colonialism.

Right now, it’s hard to tell in what direction Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands are heading after sustaining hits from Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria in September. The picture of the damage in Puerto Rico verges on the apocalyptic now, and much of the situation is currently deteriorating. Millions are still without power, fuel, food, and water are running out, hospitals are overwhelmed and mostly inoperable, and bodies are “piling up” in morgues. Struggles in the Virgin Islands are less documented, but no less real: Power is still tenuous, flooding is still rampant, most of the hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, and many roads are ruined.

Federal aid is arriving to help deal with the onslaught of disasters, but even if that aid were adequate and weren’t heavily criticized by residents for being late or ineffective, aid alone won’t lead to recovery. Existing challenges that plagued the territories before Irma and Maria multiply the effects of the storms, and must themselves be dealt with in order for recovery to be a reality. But dealing with those issues will require examining the legacies of colonialism, racism, and erratic federal policy in shaping the destinies of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and how those forces contributed to the destruction on display today.

President Trump has—if nothing else—outlined just how deeply those legacies run in his direction of the federal response. When Trump attacked San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Twitter last weekend, his remarks that the relief effort was hampered by “poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help” and that “they want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” played on similar themes as an 1899 colonial governor bemoaning the lack of “Anglo-Saxon energy to face a gloomy outlook” among his black and brown constituents on the island, which had just been taken from Spain as the United States built its own empire.

When Trump expanded on his comments Tuesday, just hours before his first trip to San Juan, he paired praise to federal responders for “the great job we’ve done” with criticism of the efforts of local officials. It was a contrast that recalled the opinion of Justice Henry Billings Brown in the 1901 Downes v. Bidwell case—one of the so-called “Insular Cases” that now form the basis of governance over the U.S. territories, and helped create the status quo where residents of the territories are citizens who pay taxes and serve in the military, but have neither representation in Congress nor sovereignty. There, Brown said that for the “alien races … the administration of government and justice, according to Anglo-Saxon principles, may for a time be impossible.”

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