Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Racism & Classism Now Keep NOLA Residents Out

The Times Picayune is reporting what no one wants to hear or have said. Race and Class tensions survived Katrina and are alive and well in NOLA. FEMA has 17777 trailers for temporary housing ready to be delivered to NOLA but no one wants them in their back yard and so the trailers and displaced residents are on hold. Mayor Nagin has had to back off from a list of trailer sites he released last week due to "howls of outrage" from many residents and City Council members. The Time Picayune says this...
Local foes of the trailers express concerns about crime, lower property values and the need for children to have recreational space. But the supercharged nature of the discussion hints at its unsavory, largely unacknowledged underpinnings: racial and class divisions. (emphasis mine)
The property values canard has long been America's way of dressing up racism in nice clothes. However the Times Picayune to their credit reports....

But time and again, the deepest anxieties animating the fight against trailer parks are attached to stereotypes about the people who most urgently need the temporary housing.

A resident near the Marrero trailer park, who did not want to be named because of fear of retaliation, said of New Orleans: "You used to have murders on the news every night. Nobody would want to live next to that."

At a contentious meeting about the site in November, one woman blurted from the audience, "How do we know these people are not from the projects of Orleans?" And several residents urged that trailer sites in Jefferson be used solely for Jefferson residents.

For once FEMA is ready to deliver but the local's racism and classism are holding them up. One resident who is more enlightened said "It absolutely gives us the wrong image after people have given to us so generously," and worries the nation and Congress will become disgusted. Well yes...I'm disgusted.

New Orleans became the bellwether city for American racism in late August. The nation watched in disgust as tens of thousands of black faces were unable to get out and now we watch as they can't get back in. While the rest of America can still keep its dirty little secrets under wraps NOLA is facing our national nightmare head on. This is an opportunity. Yet as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, Bush and Congress will do nothing and I'm reminded of words spoken 42 years ago when another president was finally forced to deal with racism...

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is -- whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.......Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality---John F Kennedy

Yeah we've come a long way baby

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