Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

November 19, 2006

Righting Old Wrongs…

Filed under: Civic Blogging,New Orleans,Progressive News — Tags: , , — Morwen Madrigal @ 6:57 am

The other day the T-P had a little article about mis-understanding Politics 101 here in the city. One of the developers of the Fallstaff property on Gravier St. remarked about the failure of Jazzland. Pissed off a supe or two, so what? The key thing was that he believed that we should “get people into rentals” Excuse me?
“Using the HOME money to help owners work on their houses, the Falstaff developers said, would not produce any of the new rental units the city needs and would not leverage the federal money to produce the greatest return.”

I freakin’ beg to differ Mr. Suit Man. The greatest return on the Federal monies sent as part of the Reparations due to the city’s people is best served by maintaining and creating home-ownership. A little slice of the American Dream, ‘eh?

HUD is tearing down the Projects… what the Hell can those folks afford in the near, or could be, the long-term Future? They will be paying tribute to yet another developer and their overlords. No Freedom, no freakin’ way out of the hole. Let’s just return to the pre-Flood days, ‘eh?

Screw that path… not going to play the same old game down here again. No, ya’s ain’t gonna build lots of apartment complexes in the “Sliver By The River” to house the poor that will become your indentured servants for the service industry and your damned profit margins. We don’t want your ugly complexes (read: projects) in the city. You will just suck rent, along with other things, let those things decay, find a way to bail out with the $$$, and then where do the little folks stand then?

I can tell you some of what’s going on. From the “Nation” April, ’06:

“The Republican hostility to New Orleans, of course, runs deeper and is nastier than mere concern with civic probity (America’s most corrupt city, after all, is located on the Potomac, not the Mississippi). Underlying all the circumlocutions are the same antediluvian prejudices and stereotypes that were used to justify the violent overthrow of Reconstruction 130 years ago. Usually it is the poor who are invisible in the aftermath of urban disasters, but in the case of New Orleans it has been the African-American professional middle class and skilled working class. In the confusion and suffering of Katrina–a Rorschach test of the American racial unconscious–most white politicians and media pundits have chosen to see only the demons of their prejudices. The city’s complex history and social geography have been reduced to a cartoon of a vast slum inhabited by an alternately criminal or helpless underclass, whose salvation is the kindness of strangers in other, whiter cities. Inconvenient realities like Gentilly’s red-brick normalcy–or, for that matter, the pride of homeownership and the exuberance of civic activism in the blue-collar Lower Ninth Ward–have not been allowed to interfere with the belief, embraced by New Democrats as well as old Republicans, that black urban culture is inherently pathological.

Such calumnies reproduce ancient caricatures–blacks running amok, incapable of honest self-government–that were evoked by the murderous White League when it plotted against Reconstruction in New Orleans in the 1870s. Indeed, some civil rights veterans fear that the 1874 Battle of Canal Street, a bloody League-organized insurrection against a Republican administration elected by black suffrage, is being refought–perhaps without pikes and guns, but with the same fundamental aim of dispossessing black New Orleans of economic and political power. Certainly, a sweeping transformation of the racial balance-of-power within the city has been on some people’s agenda for a long time.”

How about “The New Orleans Agenda” from last February’s S.F. Bayview? (If I excerpt it, I’ll have to copy and paste the entire essay. Just read it.)

“Oh! But the Feds are only required to return us to pre-Katrina situations.” Just kiss my tush jerks. The levees weren’t all of the problem. This has been a systemic assault upon the people of New Orleans for many, many decades. The failures of the levees could easily be seen as part of a “plan”. WE ARE OWED REPARATIONS! We should use them to bring all of New Orleans back on a more equitable footing. (Shit! That Neo-con/Bigot fault just shifted! Did ya’s feel that?) Neighborhood ownership and co-partners in the developement of said neighborhoods. (Damn! That fault shook again!) Good Public schools instead of the Parochial and Charter schools? (I think that last shaking was Rigor Mortis setting in. I’m freakin’ groovin’ to the movin’.)

The wrongs from the Past can be corrected within the rebuilding of the city. Many of us are seen as the oppressors from the poor’s side, but we aren’t: all of us are heirs to the bullshit bigotry of the Past. This time all of the tribes of New Orleans can hold hands and create the New Orleans that should have been: a place that is a collection of slices from much of Humanity’s experiences and have them mesh together into a semi-coherent whole. To create a new New Orleans: where the bigotry of the Past is laid to rest, and we all can stand up and state, “I own a piece of this home-place”, both soulfully and materially.

Think of it: What the Hell is the worth of the city and the vibes without all of us: Creole, Cajun, black, white, Asian, etc. living together? How did the music begin? Blacks and Creoles mainly, and then other elements flowed in. Our cuisine? Babes, I defy you to produce a more thourough fusion in the culture of foods. The City’s flavor? It took, and takes, all of us who love Her, all of us that just said, “New Orleans owns me… I can’t leave.”.

There’s a thing called the “Spirit of Place” or Genius Loci… all of us who love this place belong to it. It moves within the soul. It’s called belonging, and we should be beholding to It’s spirit. Let’s now create a true “Shining City Upon a Hill“.

I’m game: (I am a part of almost every culture in the city. I wish my relatives to be happy and contented). Where Yat?


  1. Morwen’s house

    Some of you came out this fall to help gut Morwen’s house in Gentilly. I contacted her last week to see about scheduling another work day and got this happy news: We finally started the SBA stream and the place…

    Trackback by Ray in New Orleans — November 19, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

  2. I don’t know what Nagin’s angle is, but if it involves real estate, Nagin probably has an angle. Nagin’s program isn’t to help turn renters into owner, it’s to help owners who are waiting for Road Home money. That’s commendable enough, but it’s not going to do anything about N.O. being a city of renters. I don’t even care if he has ulterior motives a involving showing up the governor or making himself look good. I don’t think it’s enough to help that many individual homeowners, but it might be enough to throw a monkey wrench in the works for a few projects that don’t involve his new company or some of his cronies’ companies. I might be a bit cynical, but it’s not like Nagin has been especially forthcoming where finances are concerned, his own, city or even campaign finances.

    Comment by bayoustjohndavid — November 19, 2006 @ 11:32 pm

  3. Renters certainly were hurt disproportionately by Katrina and its aftermath. They also generally don’t qualify for direct government assistance.

    I think it’s important to note that unlike many cities New Orleans has only a few large landlords. The bulk of the rental housing was owned by small scale landlords, often renting to family members. This form of entrepreneurship helped many middle class people improve their standard of living. These people are having the same problems everyone else is with insurance companies.

    Eventually the LRA plans to have a program to assist small scale landlords but it will be in the form of a loan, which must be repaid and it will be tied to some sort of rent control. How well that will work and when it will be available is hard to know,

    Eventually I believe the City will own a lot of small rental properties, I hope the redevelopment Authority creates a method for small scale entrepreneurs to acquire most of these properties and ultimately benefit form sweat equity, possibly by deferring payment until a standard mortgage can be obtained or until the work is complete and occupied.

    I would love to see a Homestead program where energetic families can obtain a home, something like the homestead program which opened up the great plains.

    Comment by mominem — November 21, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

  4. I am in total agreement with you on this one. I am afraid ofwhat will happen if the city becomes the landlord to many rental properties. Goodness knows what kinds of games will go on in City Hall with that much money at stake.

    Betts and I are conscientous landladies, we took care of our little rental and our tenant. I do not see the city acting at that level of responsibility over the rentals they may wind up owning, leading to a new batch of blighted housing in another decade. Homesteading may be the way to go to prevent this from happening.

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — November 21, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress