Santa Clara University

Local injustice

By Sarah Attwood, SCU junior from Phoenix, Ariz.

It was a bit surreal boarding a plane this past January to New Orleans—a cultural, spiritual, and musical icon of our country—for a Santa Clara immersion trip. Yet being there was a necessary reminder of the many social injustices that lie hidden in our own schools, neighborhoods, and cities. We often leave the country to open our eyes to the reality of injustice when it is far too often right at our doorstep. Three moments I will remember most from my experience include:

  • Walking through the rubble in the Ninth Ward and seeing half-buried under the dirt and debris a ceramic mug that had a little cartoon elephant on it and read, “Remember that I love you.” The individuals and families left homeless from this tragedy are too easily becoming lost and forgotten. We must continue to love and care for them.
  • Walking past a house with a note spray-painted on the front door in bold red-lettering: “trespassers will be shot often.” My heart ached for the person who was in such a desperate situation to write that.
  • Working side by side with Veronica, an older woman who had lived and raised a family in New Orleans for most of her life. As she slowly went through every item she owned (most of which were completely unsalvageable), she so gently said, “I’m going to let go of that” as she placed each of her precious life savings in the trash.

These experiences will always stay with me—reminding me that we cannot forget those affected by this tragedy, for they have experienced more desperation than we could ever fathom. We must simply help rebuild the things they’ve had to so courageously “let go of.”