Refugee vs Evacuee. Katrina vs Harvey… and Why it Matters

Refugee vs. Evacuee, Katrina vs. Harvey | OneUnited Bank

This week marks the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Amazingly, it has been 12 years.

Sadly, Hurricane Harvey has had a similar devastating impact on Houston that Katrina had on New Orleans. Our thoughts and prayers are with Texans. We are inspired by their resilience and community spirit as they rescue and support each other through this natural disaster. As many have said, we’re experiencing the worst of Mother Nature and the best of human nature.

Post Katrina, the way in which we experience and process natural disasters is very different. Today, there’s social media and smart phones. We’re now all connected. Many have been rescued due to the power of social media.

And we continue to learn valuable lessons from Katrina and other hurricanes that improve the way we handle natural disasters. Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, made the astute decision not to order a mandatory evacuation of Houston and risk having over 2 million people on the road when Hurricane Harvey hit. Given the flash flooding that has occurred, the decision not to evacuate was a smart one.

So why are Houstonians being called “evacuees,” while the people of New Orleans were called “refugees?*” Hmm.

The answer to that question matters. The way in which a community is perceived has implications beyond the singular words. It can impact the way the community perceives itself as well as how others view it. More importantly, the perception of a community can impact the level of resources which are made available to it. Yes… social, political and economic empowerment are intertwined.

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black owned bank in the country and first Black internet bank, made the strategic and conscious decision to focus on the positive experiences in the Black community on our website and through social media. The reality is that the Black community has more accomplishments than presented through mainstream media. By sharing more positive experiences, OneUnited provides a more realistic – and improved – perception of the Black Community. We also give our community the respect we deserve.

In addition, OneUnited made the decision to create products and services to give community members who have experienced challenges a second chance. We offer a second chance checking account, to give people with a ChexSystems record an opportunity to open a checking account. We also offer a secured credit card to help rebuild credit.

We know that challenges – like natural disasters – may not be avoidable. Yet challenges should not result in a loss of dignity. By working together, we can lift each other up as we see happening in Texas!

We hope you agree… and join the #BankBlack Movement today.

*Based on the definitions, “evacuee” is the right description for all:
Refugee:  A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
Evacuee:  A person evacuated from a place of danger to somewhere safe.

OneUnited Bank

Our community’s dream is now a reality! OneUnited Bank is fulfilling the hundred year old civil rights dream by garnering the savings power of our communities and channeling it back into urban communities for economic development. With your support by simply opening an FDIC insured account with great rates, we will continue to accomplish this dream everyday!

19 Comments
  • Jeanne C Majors
    Well said and true
    September 1, 2017 Reply
  • John M.Broyles
    I like ur article abt hurricane harvey n the difference between refugees n evacuees, i see banking with an all black bank is gonna b a totally different experience altogether
    September 1, 2017 Reply
  • Ronald G Turner
    What are you doing to help the people of Houston? How can we help?
    September 1, 2017 Reply
  • Marvin Gay
    Proud to be AN ACCOUNT HOLDER at the ONEUnited Bank!
    September 1, 2017 Reply
  • Derrick Richards
    Yes
    September 1, 2017 Reply
  • Sheree Camel
    As a Katrina survivor, I sincerely appreciate your emphasis on positivity and learning important life lessons as keys to moving forward. However, being in the midst of a disaster - such as hurricane Harvey - drops one's priorities down (on Maslow's hierarchy of human motivation and needs) to the level of basic safety and security. Survivors need to know that they and their families are safe and secure from harm., that they can.keep themselves clean, eat healthy meals, and have some privacy to grieve, rest, and sleep. Most disaster survivors will need short or long-term help processing and recovering from the terror of these life-threatening and near-death experiences. They need their injuries treated and their dead buried. Once these basic needs are met, survivors can more clearly focus on recovering housing, transportation, and jobs to pay the bills. After success at this level, survivors then are able to learn from their difficult experiences and better plan for future events and living. It is an arduous, frightening road to positivity and learning that thousands endure from every disaster. Share with us how you, as an institution we are proud of, have and will contribute to these needs. May we all look to our power and strengths to contribute as individuals.
    September 2, 2017 Reply
    • Evonda
      Thank you for sharing
      September 2, 2017 Reply
  • Alex Sullivan
    I'm proud as well humble to be a One United account holder. It's been a dream of mine to do business with a Black-owned bank that's has solid leadership in 21st century.
    September 2, 2017 Reply
  • PrincessLinda
    Thank you for that excellent article. It touched on key factors of those words, which does make a difference. Subliminal message is the way to program human's minds, subconsciously.And great job and offering a service to help those to help themselves. Help is needed in all areas mentally and physically. And this bank, unlike any other, offer that opportunity. On behalf of the "Evacuees", thank you.Also, I am proud to be a member of this bank. My debt card gains lots of recognition as I present it in the stores for usage. Many non-black states it is a beautiful and different card and ask, who is the bank? Yet those who are Black, view it and look at me with a smile.#BlackPride #BlackUnity #BlackLove
    September 2, 2017 Reply
  • Pat C.
    I want thank you for giving a chance to rebuild my life.
    September 2, 2017 Reply
  • Joan Lloyd
    You Rock, One United!!!!!!
    September 2, 2017 Reply
  • Joan Lloyd
    I have a tiny business and cannot wait to hook up with you. We currently have an account with another bank.......but need a business savings?..... any such thing?
    September 2, 2017 Reply
  • S. Woods
    It'd be wonderful if you all linked to podcasts, videos, or other social media posts, by credible sources of investigation and analysis (even better if they're affiliates/industry experts), that allow your readers to dive deeper into the observations and correlations you touch on in this post. A win/win for both you and your target audience, potentially::1. Allowing your constituents to become more educated on the subjects you present, equipping them to more effectively pass along the information to others (a more educated populace is good for everyone); 2. Strengthening the case for/between the #buybuildBankBLACK movement (I do my own thing, but you guys, do you); 3. Creating a closed-loop engagement experience for your online users (your marketing department associates can suss out the opportunities here).What you guys are doing here is great!
    September 5, 2017 Reply
  • erik
    what are we going to about the black familys the are being left behind in the rescue mission. they are litarly leaving black families out there to die .....smh .... but why was I thinking other wise ...
    September 6, 2017 Reply
  • Ethel Rucker
    OneUnited Bank - where are you located? I'd be interested in opening an account.
    September 7, 2017 Reply
  • Darrell Williams
    Will you be opening a branch in other cities like Houston, which is where I reside. Thanks for the article as I always referred to Katrina survivors as evacuees and not refugees.
    September 25, 2017 Reply
  • Emily Piper
    United we stand. And most definitely divided we (blacks) all fall. It's a pleasure to endure in such a unity to build a strong demeanor for one another. Thank u and im definitely gone open up me an account asap.
    November 6, 2017 Reply

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