Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Orleans, Four Years Later

At Erik's request, I'm posting the intro to my Global Comment piece on New Orleans here. I did several interviews for this story, including one with James Perry, who's trying to replace Ray Nagin as mayor of New Orleans--and has my full support (if I lived there, I'd vote for the guy. If you do, you should.)

Four years. It’s a presidential term; it’s the length of a high school or college education.

It’s also the amount of time that has passed now since Hurricane Katrina swept across the Gulf Coast and devastated the city of New Orleans, driving thousands of citizens from their homes. Many still have not been able to return.

I spent four years of my life in New Orleans. They were four years that shaped me into the person that I am today. I learned about racism and I learned about jazz. I learned about poverty and class divisions, and I learned about real friendship. I learned what it was like to really fear your home being wiped out by a hurricane, and I learned what it was like to struggle to pay rent. I haven’t been back, but the city remains in my heart.

After the storm, many Americans opened their hearts (and in some cases, their homes) to New Orleans. We have a new president now, perhaps partly because Katrina exposed George W. Bush’s basic incompetence and lack of empathy. Those of us who have been paying attention have gotten quite an education from the government’s handling of Katrina, watching the initial fumble grow into four years of neglect.

According to James Perry, Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center and candidate for mayor of New Orleans, the Obama administration has made an effort to do better by New Orleans. He notes, though, that, “The thing that’s difficult about that for Louisianans and New Orleanians is that four years out, we’re tired of waiting.”

Please read the whole thing over at GC--they support me and pay at least some of my bills. Thanks for your support as well. New Orleans needs you still.