Alex Chilton in New Orleans

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steve-o
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Postby steve-o » Thu Sep 22, 2005 4:56 pm

Trust me, I'm not letting the Northern cities off that easily: you should have seen the reaction I got visiting Penn State and trying to explain for them the concept of "Black Colleges." They figured, "Oh yeah, that's the South for you" when I saw nothing at Penn State but a sea of white faces. Yeah, and they know about diversity. But that's another generalization, perhaps I should move on lest I get myself in more trouble. But when I made the statement about Northern cities not seeming as racist, I was thinking in particular of Philadelphia, where I saw a kind of integration that I would never see in Richmond. It was pretty refreshing. I'm actually very proud of the amount of diversity that does exist in Richmond, my university being one of the high points. But you leave campus, it's not as pretty a picture, and that balance seems to represent much more of what I've seen in Virginia. Those divisions are still very real, and very much there.

I should mention that while I live in Virginia now, my family is from the New Orleans area, and I spent a few years in and around New Orleans as well. The problems facing both Richmond and NO strike me as eerily similar, as I'd imagine they would for someone in Detroit or Baltimore or even Chicago. Although New Orleans is much much worse, both have high concentrations of segregation, high concentrations of poverty, and a large disproportion of both in relation to their surrounding localities. The suburban areas are heavily Republican, and the attitudes tend to view the city as a crime-ridden, scum infested, social services sucking cesspool. Meanwhile, the city itself leans more Democratic, and blames the surrounding areas for not taking on a share of its social problems. That creates hostility from both sides, usually in much less extreme circumstances as St. Charles police shooting over the heads of NO residents.

I don't claim to be an expert in this, and I hope I didn't give that impression, but I think we're pretty much in agreement here. Racism is still a major problem in most cities (Californian friends have told me the same tension exists among the Whites and Latinos), and its one that has been largely ignored up to this point. What I'm more concerned about is developers and lawmakers using the hurricane's devastation as a way to get rid of an element, real or imagined, that they have wanted to get rid of for a long time. Whether that's a race thing or a class thing, I'd say from my own experience listening to many people in my area, that it has elements of both.

DJMurphy
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Postby DJMurphy » Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:19 pm

Wow, at the risk of resurrecting the lovefest, I gotta tell you that both Steve-o and Reko are both articulate and informed on this issue, and the eloquence of argument makes me look like a blabbering idiot. I salute both of you for your well-worded arguments. Hmm, steve-o and Reko... I wonder if I changed my name to DJMurphy-o I'd be worlds more intelligent. Sure, it could happen...

My only $0.02 about the whole shizbang is that here in Chicago, we have our own flavor of de facto segregation; rare is the truly integrated neighborhood.

Reko
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Postby Reko » Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:56 pm

Well, I didn't realize steve-O had spent his share of time in New Orleans, so I have removed an unnecessary paragraph from my commentary. I just have seen a lot of people in the past who did not realize there's racism everywhere and who accept the Hollywood notion of the South as the only place with a troubled past, so I didn't know realize he had lived in N.O. I think a lot of us from the South care very deeply about racism & injustice, and obviously steve-O is an example.

The quote I included about Chilton (subject of this thread) was to show his interest in racial harmony and his love of music by black performers, two things that drew him to N.O. All the musicians I've known from there have been really proud of that aspect of N.O.

And in Memphis in the 1960s, the melting pot of white and black musicians at Stax helped influence the whole nation (as did the music of Mo-town and other r&b labels) in moving our culture forward through the music (as did Sam Phillips earlier with his 1950s recordings of blues musicians). Chilton was influenced a lot by seeing his heroes like Steve Cropper & Duck Dunn playing in Stax house bands backing up great black musicians, some of whom his 1960s Box Tops group played on billings opening for in the late 1960s. I think that the South made some contributions to helping move our culture in the 1960s toward racially harmonious thinking through the music of the region, although god knows the South made more than its share of contributions to racial injustice as well.

As for Philly, I've heard some good things about that city about integration. Of course it's also a city that had 3 race riots in the 20th century, including 1918, 1946, and 1964; York, PA also had a race riot in July 1969. Detroit had race riots in 1942, 1943, and 1967, etc. Michigan has been particularly strong with the Klan, an organization we can thank Pulaski, TN for starting.

The whole U.S. has a history of needing to work on its racial relations, for sure. So I'm glad a Southerner like steve-O is attentive in noticing racial problems. In fact Southern friends of mine pointed out to me in email well before the topic started getting in the tv news the potential for an appearance of racism by the federal government in the slowness to respond to the hurricane needs of largely black New Orleans with Katrina due to poor federal emergency response planning in the past.

So anyway, it was interesting to read steve-O's info about New Orleans and Richmond because I haven't lived in either place and he has.
Last edited by Reko on Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Reko
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re: the Nation article link

Postby Reko » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:27 pm

steve-o wrote:As I was saying...


RE: moving back to New Orleans after the storm -- would you want to? I wouldn't. Not unless they can fix it so it won't flood again after the next category 4 storm. I have occasionally heard a couple of New Orleanians of both races express that opinion on tv recently. Some people do not want to have to risk that repeatedly. The federal government should have protected the city better in the first place, but I hear the funds for improving the levees and other needed improvements were cut from the Bush budget in the last few years.

If a lot of people do not move back, it's not just going to be racism causing the problem, but also the concern about safety from flooding. On the other hand, there is the question about whether displaced New Orleanians are going to be able to afford housing in a rebuilt New Orleans, as to those who want to return. The government had better not turn this rebuilding into a joke that doesn't benefit the victims.

ryanking
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Postby ryanking » Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:26 pm

On that last sentence of yours, Reko, do you have any expectation that something different could happen?

Reko
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Postby Reko » Fri Sep 23, 2005 8:07 am

I would assume the federal government is going to have a lot to do with what's done with the rebuilding efforts. There are proposals by Sen. Edwards to have the victims help with the effort re: http://ga3.org/campaign/new_america . Not sure if the victims can quickly get back into well built or repaired dwellings they formerly owned via that initiative or not, since the victims are not all carpenters.

Bush tried to cut costs on rebuilding by suspending the Davis-Bacon Act labor rates for the area affected, which some criticize (especially if it ends up not done just temporarily, although it was also suspended by Clinton for Hurricane Andrew), but I'm more concerned about who the government chooses to rebuild it (obviously no one wants to see his administration's cronies be given bids to waste money like in Iraq). If the government puts the rebuilding up for bidding in the private sector to get the federal government less involved and tries to put Louisiana companies that can handle the job first, some say this would help. But it's possible that they haven't even thought about what rebuilding means as far as the homeowners and tenants who previously lived in the places they will "rebuild."

Is the Bush administration just planning to bulldoze everything seriously damanged and have the government take the property as eminent domain, then sell it to new buyers? I have no idea what these people have in mind. It was criminally negligent that Bush's administration (as well as previous administrations, probably) cut the funds for necessary improvements out of the budget to begin with in the last few years that might have protected the city from the flooding in the first place. Everyone knew this could happen; there have been science articles out on the topic for years.

As for you, do you feel there is no chance for a rebuilding effort that will help the victims? And do you think they intend to rebuild the city in a way that will protect from flooding in the future so that people will want to return? Another thing - what about the police who apparently have been looting homes? It looked to me last night like the N.O. police were not interested in investigating allegations of police looting and are going to allow the police to do anything they want when residents have evacuated.

steve-o
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Postby steve-o » Fri Sep 23, 2005 10:20 am

Reko wrote:Is the Bush administration just planning to bulldoze everything seriously damanged and have the government take the property as eminent domain, then sell it to new buyers? I have no idea what these people have in mind. It was criminally negligent that Bush's administration (as well as previous administrations, probably) cut the funds for necessary improvements out of the budget to begin with in the last few years that might have protected the city from the flooding in the first place. Everyone knew this could happen; there have been science articles out on the topic for years.


That's more or less what I'm afraid is going to happen. I don't know if it's something the Bush Administration has much involvement in though, I think a lot of it will happen at the state and local level. Hopefully Nagin doesn't lose the sack that he grew after the hurricane and can make a lot of noise if this starts happening. I'm just worried that the Kelo ruling is going to make it that much easier.

And really I don't blame anyone for not wanting to come back. I'm applying to Tulane for next fall (and having a mom as an alum made it a pretty good bet) but now I'm not sure if I want to, and it's definitely not a race issue. Just too much bs to have to deal with, in regards to rebuilding, the amount of social problems (crime, corrupt police, etc), and then the prospect that it could wash away again. It would be hard to settle into that.

grounded5am
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Postby grounded5am » Fri Sep 23, 2005 11:40 am

i heard that hurricane rita is headed towards lousiana anyway and that flooding could happen again very soon? has any of this changed?

Dreamin
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Postby Dreamin » Fri Sep 23, 2005 11:47 am

I wonder if NO will be safe for human habitation due to all the toxic chemicals and other crap that has been spilled all over the city. Remember what happened in Love Canal, NY in the '70s? I hope I'm wrong, but this could be another public health time bomb.

steve-o
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Postby steve-o » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:59 pm

grounded5am wrote:i heard that hurricane rita is headed towards lousiana anyway and that flooding could happen again very soon? has any of this changed?


Apparently the levees in the 9th Ward have already been breached again.


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