Thursday, July 12, 2007

Article: How to Destroy an African-American City in Thirty-Three Steps - Lessons From Katrina

I know this article is two weeks old; however I believe it provides depth and perspective respecting this post-Katrina city where I reside.

Just a few initial thoughts; First, I had to think for a second whether New Orleans is truly an African-American city. Demographically, New Orleans was close to 65% black before the storm; best recent estimates I’ve heard currently place the figure around 50% (although it seemed about 90% last week during the wonderful homecoming of the Essence Festival). But is that enough to categorically identify New Orleans as an African-American city? Does having a black mayor give you bonus points? By the same definition is Los Angeles a Hispanic-American city since Hispanics make up the largest segment of the population and the mayor is also Hispanic? I don’t know, but its splitting hairs so let me get on.

I just don’t understand why there seems to be no true sense of urgency in dealing with the aftermath of Katrina and the widespread levee failures which lead to most of the devastation in the city. Blame it on the president, governor, mayor, our increasing shady congressional delegation, whomever; it’s amazingly frustrating to see the lack of governmental progress. I say this all the freakin time - In my opinion almost every bit of progress that has been made in New Orleans since Katrina is due to the efforts of grassroots organizations, local neighborhood groups, non-profits, philanthropic foundations, non-local volunteers (especially students), and hardworking resident of New Orleans who returned no matter what challenges awaited them.

I always have more to say, but definitely read the article first.


The Underdog said...

Solid article. I like how at the end he has a disclaimer saying that all these events have and are happening in New Orleans, or should I call it K'Ville now. If you're from there or have/are living there you knew this was going to happen before the rebuilding efforts started. I don't have a problem with getting the Quarter and the Dome back up and running, but the fact that over-arching plans have yet to go into affect is deplorable. It's been almost 2 years and what does the city have to show for it...a division title, a trip to the NFC Championship, and some levees that will still fail because the morons who built them are only going to fix them about as good as they were before, which obviously wasn't that good.

I like Headliner's point about the lack of government progress. Why is it that our government can spend billions on Iraq, but common citizens have to spend their time and money rebuilding an American city. I guess maybe if we had more oil this American city would be more important than a country far far away where no one likes us.

Katrina will always be an interesting subject. I bet you can take every point in Quigley's article and have enough to fill up a semester long class. It's obvious that the government has not learned from this as they are not trying to do anything different than they did before. But if you think about it, the people may change, but government really doesn't. Why should be expect radical changes from people who benefit from the status quo? Why should we expect change in he impoverished when they are stuck in the cycle with no one or system to help them out of it? If our own government doen't stand up for us then who will? Who?

headliner said...

I'm becoming more and more pessimistic each day. Mainly because individuals are trying to do things, but you gotta look economies of scale, to deal with something on level of New Orleans at some point the gov't has to step up and do its part. In my opinion the local and state governments haven't done enough, and I won't even get started on the federal response. Also I'm in this planning stuff, I don't even know if thats been any good for New Orleans. I'm still an Ed Blakely believer -- -- but I'm kinda feeling the need to see something soon.

T.L. Corners said...

Wow! Good find! It highlights either the incompetence or apathy of the current administration. It's ridiculous to a surreal degree that this long after the events people are still suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and lots of the things detailed in this article are shocking (but not).

"...have one nearly all-white suburb pass a law that makes it illegal for homeowners to rent to people other than their blood relatives!" Again, in this day and age, this is shocking, but at the same time not. I mean just when we think silly things like this are all but gone, they rear their ugly head in the papers every now and again and remind us that while race relations HAS made its strides, ridiculous racism such as this DOES still exist.

Anyways, thanks again for this find. Definitely worth emailing to others.

The Underdog said...

What's sad about things in NO is the place had a majority black residency with a majority black council and a black mayor, but it is the black residents that have suffered the most. You'd think the admin and government would be more sensitive to their needs. Yet it seems that even with a "black" government, the controlling powers that be (probably of another color) seem to always brush aside the needs of the people.

I agree though, that something needs to be done soon. It's rediculous that nothing's been done. I haven't heard nor seen any progress since they created this Bring Back NO commission. What's really going on?

Pistolette said...

I had a very different response to his piece. I thought Quiqley himself actually came off as racist by implying that New Orleans was ONLY defined by its African ancestry. I tore him a part actually: