FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Still Fighting for Home in New Orleans

Stalking the storyline of my book on New Orleans’ recovery, “The Fight for Home,” was what you might call the fight against home. Even as the people I profiled — Carolyn Parker, Pastor Mel Jones, and many others — struggled to get back into their neighborhoods, there was a growing sense that, as a number of people put it, “They don’t want us back.”

The “they” in this case seemed to be government; the “us” was low-income residents of color; and the reason was simple: there was money to be made from re-configuring New Orleans as a “boutique city” with a “new economy.” From the mayor’s original redevelopment plan — which designated “inner city” neighborhoods as not worth recovering — to the continuing focus on gentrifying the riverfront “crescent,” official New Orleans has used the Katrina disaster as an opportunity for 21st century urban renewal.

You can see it in the Lower Ninth Ward area known as Backatown, where the city made it almost impossible for former residents to rebuild on their properties (many of which are now occupied by post-modern Brad Pitt houses). You can see it in the attempt to pass laws to keep Mardi Gras Indians off the streets of Treme because more recent, more up-scale residents complain that this centuries-old African-American tradition is too noisy.
the-fight-for-home

You can see it in the political battle over what class of business should be allowed to return to Pastor Mel’s Gentilly neighborhood. You can see it in the closing of public schools and the dismissal of long time teachers – many of whom are black – in favor of charter schools with imported Teach for America staffs. Maybe the easiest way to see it is simply to take a drive through New Orleans today and note which neighborhoods seem to have recovered and which haven’t, who lives where, and who doesn’t.

In the case of Carolyn Parker’s Holy Cross neighborhood, you can see it in the current battle over development. This part of the Lower Ninth used to be “anchored” by the private Holy Cross School. The school abandoned its property post-Katrina, even as Carolyn and her neighbors were fighting to get back home. Now, a developer has decided the best plan for the thirteen acres is a massive high-rise and high-price condo project. As one commentator put it, “The Holy Cross plan, promoted by the politically well-connected Perez Architecture firm, calls for 284 residential units, plus commercial uses, 500 parking places and the loss of a stand of live oaks. This is nearly quadruple the current density of an historic neighborhood noted for its small-town feel!”

It’s anchors like this that drown neighborhoods. They price people out of their houses and celebrate a new economy where only the new New Orleans is welcome. That’s why, almost nine years after the floods, people are still fighting as hard as ever. And could still use your support.

Here’s a video showing some Holy Cross neighbors who oppose the condo project — and how the developers have resorted to fake petitions in trying to get their high-rise “renewal” passed.

Daniel Wolff’s “The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back” is out in paperback this month.

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
January 24, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
A Letter From Iowa
Jim Kavanagh
Aftermath: The Iran War After the Soleimani Assassination
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Camp by the Lake
Chuck Churchill
The Long History of Elite Rule: What Will It Take To End It?
Robert Hunziker
A Climate Time Bomb With Trump’s Name Inscribed
Andrew Levine
Trump: The King
Jess Franklin
Globalizing the War on Indigenous People: Bolsonaro and Modi
James Graham
From Paris, With Tear Gas…
Rob Urie
Why the Primaries Matter
Dan Bacher
Will the Extinction of Delta Smelt Be Governor Gavin Newsom’s Environmental Legacy?
Ramzy Baroud
In the Name of “Israel’s Security”: Retreating US Gives Israel Billions More in Military Funding
Vijay Prashad
What the Right Wing in Latin America Means by Democracy Is Violence
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Biden’s Shameful Foreign Policy Record Extends Well Beyond Iraq
Louis Proyect
Isabel dos Santos and Africa’s Lumpen-Bourgeoisie
Nick Pemberton
AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Promtheus’ Fire: Climate Change in the Time of Willful Ignorance
Linn Washington Jr.
Waiting for Justice in New Jersey
Ralph Nader
Pelosi’s Choice: Enough for Trump’s Impeachment but not going All Out for Removal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Don’t Kill 72 Grizzly Bears So Cattle Can Graze on Public Lands
Joseph Natoli
Who’s Speaking?
Kavaljit Singh
The US-China Trade Deal is Mostly Symbolic
Cesar Chelala
The Coronavirus Serious Public Health Threat in China
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Must Remain Vigilant and on Guard Against US Hybrid Warfare
Robert Fantina
Impeachment as a Distraction
Courtney Bourgoin
What We Lose When We Lose Wildlife
Mark Ashwill
Why Constructive Criticism of the US is Not Anti-American
Daniel Warner
Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times
Manuel Perez-Rocha
How NAFTA 2.0 Boosts Fossil Fuel Polluters, Particularly in Mexico
Dean Baker
What Minimum Wage Would Be If It Kept Pace With Productivity
Mel Gurtov
India’s Failed Democracy
Thomas Knapp
US v. Sineneng-Smith: Does Immigration Law Trump Free Speech?
Winslow Myers
Turning Point: The new documentary “Coup 53”
Jeff Mackler
U.S. vs. Iran: Which Side are You On?
Sam Pizzigati
Braggadocio in the White House, Carcinogens in Our Neighborhoods
Christopher Brauchli
The Company Trump Keeps
Julian Vigo
Why Student Debt is a Human Rights Issue
Ramzy Baroud
These Chains Will Be Broken
Chris Wright
A Modest Proposal for Socialist Revolution
Thomas Barker
The Slow Death of European Social Democracy: How Corbynism Bucked the Trend
Nicky Reid
It’s Time to Bring the War Home Again
Michelle Valadez
Amy Klobuchar isn’t Green
David Swanson
CNN Poll: Sanders Is The Most Electable
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Dire Need for “Creative Extremists”—MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
Jill Richardson
‘Little Women’ and the American Attitude Toward Poverty
David Yearsley
Watching Star Wars in Berlin
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail