Friday, January 27, 2006

Not-So-Chocolate City?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/national/nationalspecial/27orleans.html?_r=1

I expect these numbers are extreme, but 80% of Black New Orleanians staying away? I'm with the mayor--won't be New Orleans if that happens.

Estimates have been wrong about everything so far--time to drain the city, number of deaths, rate of students returning--pretty much in universally pessimistic directions. I hope this is another case of overwrought concern. Frankly, I can't even imagine New Orleans without an African American majority.

So much has been made of race in the city, but I honestly believe that this is a city with more interracial interaction and acceptance than just about any other. True, wealth is not proportionally distributed, but because Whites are so drastically outnumbered, we tend to have a relatively large number of upwardly mobile Blacks, and Black people in positions of power. True, the "underclass" is almost entirely Black, but this is not a city where White people just go about their business paying no attention to people not like them, at least not in my view. Instead, we go to parades, festivals, and just float around with people very different from us. I love that.

Although New Orleans has had plenty of important White cultural influences, the true culture and soul of the city is Black. My ideal would be that the people who don't love the city would just hit the road, more Black people could leave NO East and come back to the more urban neighborhoods like mine, but I know it's gotten expensive. I keep hoping we can get some kind of "mortgage control" in the form of rent control, but I don't see how that could happen.

One thing that does frustrate me is that there are such differences in activities in some parts of life. Although I did the count of race on my block, and if you go up one side and down the other, it goes like this: BBBWWBWBWBWWBWWB. Pretty cool. And many blocks in NOLA are like that, but at our neighborhood association meeting, the room was packed, but with only about 4 African Americans. Sucks. I expect it's because Black uptowners are more likely to rent than are Whites, which means lest investment in the neighborhood.

So we have to find ways to eliminate the risk of the 80% loss, or it won't be our city again at all. That's the strongest argument yet to abandon the moratorium or to abandon the Lower 9.

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