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Monday, September 26, 2005

Will the Lower Ninth be rebuilt?

That's the question put forth in the Newsweek article, "The Battle to Rebuild". Race and politics figure into the future of the former home of thousands of low-to-no income blacks, a section of New Orleans that many would rather not see rebuilt. Or if it is, that the color scheme be drastically changed. Just ask Finis Shelnutt, husband to former Clinton paramour, Gennifer Flowers: "Give it to us, and we'll turn it into golf courses. I heard that in Gaelic, 'Katrina' means 'to purify'." (You read into the statement what you will, but I'm hearing the words of a cold-stone racist.)

Many blacks displaced by Katrina believe, and maybe rightly so, that the devastation will be used by opportunists to disenfranchise them further. Yes, before Katrina ever hit, the Lower Ninth already had been devastated by extreme poverty and it would be foolhardy to rebuild with the goal of resettling the area as it once was. And yes, it is a flood plain that will always be under threat of the next Katrina or Rita. Still, many populated areas in the continental U. S. lie in flood plains. The answer is in putting forth enough funding to truly strengthen the levees and maybe one day installing hydraulic walls that will withstand the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

And for those who believe the area isn't worth rebuilding because of the poverty of the residents, they should give equal consideration to the richness of the area's cultural history, a history that could forever disappear into the detritus of Katrina.

The answer isn't letting go of the Lower Ninth nor even in re-establishing the poverty hole that it once was. The answer is in allocating the opportunities for education and jobs that will allow its former citizens to rise out of the hole, to be able to afford mortgages and equity loans, to have the ability to refurnish and refinance just like any stable American neighborhood. Maybe, the answer lies in an idea proposed by Pres Kabacoff, a well-known local developer: mixed-income and racially-diverse housing, which could work toward stabilizing the district.

I believe that New Orleans will be rebuilt eventually. I believe that many improvements will be made on behalf of the "haves" who are temporarily displaced. The underlying question in its reconstitution is whether anyone is truly looking out for the interests of the "have nots."

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 9/26/2005 05:23:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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