2005/09/18

Rebuilding Nawlins

There’s an article on rebuilding New Orleans in the latest edition of the Memphis Flyer. Like many I have mixed feelings on this. I’d like to see the city return to its pre-Katrina elegance but I’m not sure that can happen. I would also like to see a better city in its place. I’m not sure that can happen either.

My mama (actually, my granmama) often said, “When one door closes, another door opens.” Katrina has all but closed the door on New Orleans. Moreover, she just might have opened another door; one leading to an opportunity to reduce the city’s poverty.
Overwhelmingly black and poor, if one were to look up "areas of centralized poverty" in a dictionary of sociology terms, there would be a picture of New Orleans. The 80% of the city that was flooded overlays neatly with a demographic map that illustrates the bleakness of the neighborhoods that are now awash in befouled water. Neighborhoods where 27% of its residents lived below the poverty line, and only 25% of its adults had a high school diploma. Neighborhoods that contained 73% of New Orleans' schools considered "academically unacceptable" or "under academic warning."
This is isn’t something we didn’t already know, is it? Johnson's Great Society programs made this a priority in the sixties. So how do we fix it?

Go read the article. If we can come up with a solution for poverty in New Orleans, maybe we can come up with a solution for Memphis. Go read.

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