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First Page

37

Last Page

59

Document Type

Article

Abstract

[First Paragraph] One of the first images viewers see in Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006) is high water lapping near the top of a street sign. The street name is Humanity, and flood waters dangerously threaten to overtake the green rectangular sign. Lee’s image succinctly portrays the theme for the next four hours of the documentary: the threat of losing a sense of humanity as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans. The Humanity Street sign becomes more nuanced when considered from an environmental justice perspective: the rising waters that perilously converge on the sign represent the impossibility of separating humans and nature and signal the link between social concerns and climatic forces.

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