Race And Class In Katrina's Aftermath

Our mayor has even made statements about race and class now, he's finally got religion and I guess because it's been so difficult than he's finally seeing it for what it is and he's now making some pretty loud and vocal statements about race and class in the city. People keep forgetting that New Orleans is a very Southern city and that it is entrenched in issues of race. And class is just another layer to that but it's not the only layer, race still trumps class in the city and you can ask any middle, upper middle class even wealthy African American about the issue and the problems they've had, regardless of their education, is dealing with the system. And the fact that the city is so black, meaning in numbers, we're just finding the other parishes for a very long time and the media portrays them as a group of people here who are stupid and mumbling led by black people that we don't know what we're doing which is absolutely not the way black people are in this city. There are three black colleges in this city with a very large educated population. We have a large percentage of poor people here because we are 72% black, but that does not mean that we are ignorant and we don't know what's going on and we can't see the political games that have been played in this city.

So I think the people are beginning to realize that the people here know what they want and they want to come home and government works better when it follows not when it leads in other words if finds out what communities need and want and then they put things in place to make things happen. The government makes decisions about communities without their input you get kind of what has happened to us here, backwards motions rather than forward motions. We have to come up with a different plan, one that's inclusive one that says everybody's welcome. A lot of the city is the same as it was, black people were much too poor in this city, they were underpaid, they were fighting for an increase in minimum wage, couldn't get that. Now Burger King is paying nine dollars an hour, if Katrina did nothing else it raised wages of people in the city. Now there's no place for them to live, they can't come back. Our Mexican brothers and sisters or Hispanics are being exploited in ways that you can't imagine down here, and then it's also causing racial tensions because they are seen as taking jobs from African Americans and moving to the city, so it's all a big game being played manipulated by people who have a lot to gain by us not being able to come together by us not being able to come back, but we see the game and we're fighting against it."

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