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Let Me Charitain You: Measuring Artists' Impact on the Gulf – From Kanye to Treme

To mark the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this week, we're highlighting articles and artwork from GOOD's New Orleans Issue, originally...

“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Whether or not you agreed with Kanye West’s assessment of the form president’s flyover response to Katrina, there’s no denying those seven words demonstrated exactly how potent a punch an artist can deliver—especially an A-list rap star on a live feed. Of course, if we’re relying on the Louis Vuitton Don to tease out the systemic failures of a national catastrophe, we’ve got some real problems on our hands.

That’s not to say artists haven’t had a powerful and lasting effect on the Gulf Coast over the past five years. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right and its LEED Platinum homes have helped transform the Lower Ninth Ward, U2 guitarist The Edge’s Music Rising foundation has donated thousands of instruments to local musicians, and the financial and housing resources provided by Sweet Home New Orleans, a nonprofit organization designed to help keep New Orleans musical traditions alive, have all made measurable impacts. They have helped people in need while keeping the media’s glare on the recovery efforts when the million-dollar checks have stopped making headlines (or headway).

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