i dont generally post entire articles but every once in awhile
i make an exception, going to post this article on the
ethnic cleansing of new orleans
folk jumped on nagin for his chocolate city comment
and its unfortunate that he brought god into it and all
because the issue he was raising is valid
bringing god into it just confused it and provided our
enemies a way to ignore the issues & attack him on an easy kill
nagin so questionable at this point that landrieu might have more black
support in upcoming election - assuming there will be a black electorate
because clearly there is a dynamic in place excluding
blackfolk from the reconstituted new orleans
and as a delta conjureman that irks me
the delta is my holyground and my tradition was
born and bred there and those with vision see
the writing on the wall
ima memphis boy, memphis do or die and if the
forces of evil were trying to de black memphis and
destroy memphis' uniquely black culture i would
be up in arms - as it is i can only hope new orleans
black folk are going to really and effectively resist this
we got to turn this trick
but i know some of them personally and many of
them arent returning, they either cant, wont or just
so shell shocked they still in a strange kind of limbo
i been playing a lot of old new orleans songs
like do you know what it means to miss new orleans
and sometimes it makes me cry
o god how can they do that to
one of the afrospiritual centers of the world
how can we let them
memphis is at the mouth of the delta, its interface with the rest of america
and high on the bluff its been impervious to floods and storms
considers itself the guardian at the gate
as do i in my highjohn the conqueror manifestation
guardian at the gate and defender of the faith
im concerned that our sister city is going down
and im fighting mad - i dont know what but by god
i got to make a move
A 20-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans
Commentary//Analysis, Robert D. Bullard, Feb 01, 2006
As reconstruction and rebuilding move forward in New Orleans and the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast region, it is clear that the lethargic and inept emergency response after Hurricane Katrina was a disaster that overshadowed the deadly storm itself. Yet, there is a "second disaster" in the making - driven by racism, classism, elitism, paternalism and old-fashioned greed.
The following "Twenty-Point Plan to Destroy Black New Orleans" is based
on trends and observations made over the past three months. Hopefully,
the good people of New Orleans, Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and the
United States will not allow this plan to go forward - and instead
adopt a principled plan and approach to rebuilding and bringing back
New Orleans that is respectful of all of its citizens.
1. Selectively hand out FEMA grants.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is being consistent in the slow
response in getting aid to Katrina survivors. FEMA's grant assistance
program favors middle-income households. Make it difficult for
low-income and Black Katrina survivors to access government assistance.
Direct the bulk of the grant assistance to middle-income white storm
victims. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and several other legal
groups have sued FEMA over its response and handling of aid to storm
victims. FEMA has referred more than 2 million people, many of them
with low incomes, to the Small Business Administration to get the loans.
2. Systematically deny the poor and Blacks SBA loans.
Screen out poor and deny Black households disaster loans. The New York
Times editorial summed up this problem: "The Poor Need Not Apply." The
Small Business Administration has processed only a third of the 276,000
home loan applications it has received. However, the SBA has rejected
82 percent of the applications it received, a higher percentage than in
most previous disasters. Well-off neighborhoods like Lakeview have
received 47 percent of the loan approvals, while poverty-stricken
neighborhoods have gotten 7 percent. Middle-class Black neighborhoods
in the eastern part of the city have lower loan rates.
3. Award insurance claims using the "wind or water" trap.
Because of the enormity of the damage in the wake of Katrina, insurance
companies will categorize a lot of legitimate wind claims as flood- or
water-related. The "wind or water" problem will hit Black storm victims
hardest because they are likely to have their insurance with small
companies - since the major firms "redlined" many Black neighborhoods.
Most rebuilding funds after disasters come from private insurance - not
4. Redline Black insurance policyholders.
Numerous studies show that African Americans are more likely than
whites to receive insufficient insurance settlement amounts. Insurance
firms target Black policyholders for low and inadequate insurance
settlements based on majority Black zip codes to subsidize fair
settlements made to white policyholders. If Black homeowners and
business owners expect to recover from Katrina, then they must receive
full and just insurance settlements. FEMA and the SBA cannot be counted
on to rebuild Black communities.
5. Use "green building" and flood-proofing codes to restrict redevelopment.
Requiring rebuilding plans to conform to "green building" materials and
new flood-proofing codes can price many low- and moderate-income
homeowners and small business owners out of the market. This will hit
Black homeowners and Black business owners especially hard since they
generally have lower incomes and lower wealth.
6. Apply discriminatory environmental clean-up standards.
Failure to apply uniform clean-up standards can kill off Black neighborhoods. Use of full-scale cleanup of white neighborhoods to residential standards, while allowing no cleanup or partial cleanup - industrial standards - of Black residential neighborhoods. Failure to clean up Black residential areas can act as a disincentive for redevelopment. It could also make people sick. Use the argument that Black neighborhoods were already highly polluted with background contamination, or "hot spots," exceeding EPA safe levels pre-Katrina and thus need not be cleaned to more rigorous residential standards.
7. Sacrifice "low-lying" Black neighborhoods in the name of saving the wetlands and environmental restoration.
Allow Black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans
East to be "yielded back to the swamp" while allowing similar low-lying
white areas to be rebuilt and redeveloped. This is a form of "ethnic
cleansing" that was not possible before Katrina. Instead of emphasizing
equitable rebuilding, uniform clean-up standards, equal protection and
environmental justice for African American communities, public
officials should send mixed signals for rebuilding vulnerable
"low-lying" Black neighborhoods.
8. Promote a smaller, more upscale and "whiter" New Orleans.
Concentrating on getting less-damaged neighborhoods up and running
could translate into a smaller, more upscale and whiter New Orleans and
a dramatically down-sized Black community. Clearly, shrinking New
Orleans neighborhoods disproportionately shrinks Black votes, Black
political power and Black wealth.
9. Revise land use and zoning ordinances to exclude.
Katrina can be used to change land use and zoning codes to "zone
against" undesirable land uses that were not politically possible
before the storm. Also, "expulsive" zoning can be used to push out
certain land uses and certain people.
10. Phased rebuilding and restoration scheme that concentrates on the "high ground."
New Orleans officials are being advised to concentrate rebuilding on the areas that remained high and dry after Katrina. These areas are disproportionately white and affluent. This scenario builds on pre-existing inequities and "white privilege" and ensures future inequities and "white privilege." By the time rebuilding gets around to Black "low-lying" areas, there are not likely to be any rebuilding funds left. This is the "oops, we are out of funds" scenario.
11. Apply eminent domain as a Black land grab.
Give Katrina evacuees one year to return before the city is allowed to legally "take" their property through eminent domain. Clearly, it will take much longer than a year for most New Orleanians to return home. This proposal could turn into a giant land grab of Black property and loss of Black wealth they have invested in their homes and businesses.
12. No financial assistance for evacuees to return.
Thousands of Katrina evacuees were shipped to more than three dozen states with no provisions for return - equivalent to a "one-way" ticket. Many Katrina evacuees are running short of funds. No money translates into no return to their homes and neighborhoods. Promote the "right to return" without committing adequate resources to assist evacuees to return.
13. Keep evacuees away from New Orleans jobs.
The nation's unemployment rate was 5 percent in November 2005. The November 2005 jobless rate for Katrina returnees was 12.5 percent, while 27.8 percent of evacuees living elsewhere were unemployed. However, the Black jobless rate was 47 percent in November compared with 13 percent for whites who have not gone back.
Katrina evacuees who have made it back to their home region have much lower levels of joblessness. This is especially important for African Americans whose joblessness rate fell over 30 percentage points for returnees. The problem is that the vast majority of Black Katrina evacuees have not returned to their home region. Only 21 percent of Black evacuees have returned compared with 48 percent of whites.
14. Fail to enforce fair housing laws.
Allow housing discrimination against Blacks to run rampant. Katrina
created a housing shortage and opened a floodgate of discrimination
against Black homeowners and renters. In December 2005, the National
Fair Housing Alliance found high rates of housing discrimination
against African-Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In 66 percent
of the tests conducted by the NFHA, 43 of 65 instances, whites were
favored over African-Americans.
15. No commitment to rebuild and replace low-income public housing.
Shortly after Katrina struck, even the secretary of the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development spoke of not rebuilding all of the
public housing lost during the storm. The HUD secretary's statement is
a powerful signal to New Orleans' poor that public housing may not be
around for them to return to.
16. Downplay the Black cultural heritage of New Orleans.
Promote rebuilding and the vision of a "new" New Orleans as if the rich
Black culture did not matter or act as if it can be replaced or
replicated in a "theme park" type redevelopment scenario. Developers
should capture and market the "Black essence" of New Orleans without
including Black people.
17. Treatment of mixed-income housing as superior to all-Black neighborhoods.
First, there is nothing inherently inferior about an "all-Black"
neighborhood - or an all-Black anything for that matter. Black New
Orleanians who chose to live in neighborhoods that happened to be
all-Black - whites have always had the right to move in or move out of
these neighborhoods - should not be forced to have their neighborhoods
rebuilt as "integrated" or "multicultural" neighborhoods. Also,
"mixed-income" housing, to many Blacks, conjures up the idea of 10
percent of the fair market housing units set aside for them. Many
Blacks are battle-weary of competing for that 10 percent. New Orleans
was 68 percent Black before Katrina - and most Black folks were
comfortable with that.
18. Allow "oversight" (overseer) board to manage Katrina funds that flow to New Orleans.
Take away "home rule," since the billions of Katrina redevelopment dollars that will flow to New Orleans is too much money for a majority Black city council and a Black mayor to oversee or manage. More important, the oversight board will need to represent "big-money" interests - real estate, developers, banking, insurance, hotels, law firms, tourist industry etc. - well beyond the purview of a democratically elected city government to ensure that the vision of the "new" New Orleans, "smaller and more upscale," gets implemented.
19. Delay rebuilding and construction of New Orleans schools.
The longer the New Orleans schools stay closed, the longer the families
with children will stay away. Schools are a major predictor of racial
polarization. Before Katrina, over 125,000 New Orleans children were
attending schools in the city. Blacks made up 93 percent of New Orleans
schools. Evacuated children are enrolled in school districts from
Arizona to Pennsylvania. Three months after the storm, only one of the
New Orleans' 116 schools was open.
20. Hold elections without appropriate Voting Rights Act safeguards.
Almost 300,000 registered voters left New Orleans after Katrina. The powerful storm damaged or destroyed 300 of the 442 polling places. Holding city elections pose major challenges regarding registration, absentee ballots, city workers, polling places and identification for displaced New Orleanians. Identification is required at the polls, and returning residents may not have access to traditional identification papers - birth certificates, drivers' licenses etc. - destroyed by the hurricane. More than three months after Katrina struck, 80 percent of New Orleans voters have not made their way back to the city, including most African Americans, who comprised a two-thirds majority of the population before the storm.
Most of the estimated 60,000 to 100,000 New Orleans residents who have made it back are white and middle class, changing the racial and political complexion of the city. Holding elections while the vast majority of New Orleans voters are displaced outside of their home district and even their home state is unprecedented in the history of the United States, but it also raises racial justice and human rights questions.
Robert D. Bullard is the director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University.