The Conspiracy to Whiten New Orleans

The Conspiracy to Whiten New Orleans


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Of the 354,000 people who lived in New Orleans neighborhoods where the subsequent

damage was moderate to severe, 75 percent were black, 29 percent lived below the

poverty line, more than 10 percent were unemployed, and more than half were renters



The Conspiracy to Whiten New Orleans

In New Orleans, Smaller May Mean Whiter 

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The Heart & Soul of America Are at Stake — Which Way Now?

Editorial by Rudolph Lewis


Though Mayor Nagin has become a national joke in conservative circles, what is being decided in backrooms in regard to the welfare of the majority of the black former residents of New Orleans (nearly 70 percent African American before Hurricane Katrina) is monumental and will speak volumes and a dire warning for most of us who are black in America and live in our federally abandoned cities. The tragedy of New Orleans, though they try, cannot be swept under the rug.

By some estimates, 300,000 people were displaced by the flood, and it is widely believed that a large majority of them were black. . Though the floodwaters destroyed white neighborhoods, they were particularly devastating to the historically black areas of New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward, former swampland known collectively as ‘the bowl’ . . . New Orleans’ black population has been extraordinarily rooted in the city, with many people tracing their ties to before the Civil War. Before Katrina, 88 percent of blacks in New Orleans were born in Louisiana. By comparison, just 57 percent of blacks in Atlanta were born in Georgia.” (NYTimes, January 22, 2006).

If we allow this callous attitude toward this forced black dispersal (into over 40 states) to stand, this meanness of spirit and lack of regard for suffering humanity, like a cancer, will spread into other parts of the national body. That is to say, this is not a local or a regional problem, but rather a national crisis, indeed, of biblical proportions.

There is a legitimate fear on the part of some African-Americans that it [depoulation] is happening,” said Elliott Stonecipher, a political pollster and demographer from Shreveport, La., referring to a permanent black depopulation of New Orleans. “I don’t know of a place where this kind of demographic shift has ever occurred. It is a huge, huge shift. (NYTimes, January 22, 2006

Of course, Bush and the national government have tried to characterize it otherwise. Instead of the national government seizing the bull by the horn by guaranteeing and putting into place a means for all citizens to return to their homes (to New Orleans), they have set whites against blacks, the rich against the poor—by withholding or pretending that the necessary funds for such a task is unavailable or impossible to dispense. This is a matter of national will and sympathy. This situation as it now develops does not bode well for our national health—physically, spiritually, or politically.

If these American citizens because of their color and their poverty are dispersed and displaced, who among us then will be next? Will we or you be dealt with in the same callous way on the flimsiest  excuses of knowing what is best for the country, in a manner similar to that which our government dealt with Native Americans in the 19th century? These are real and substantial fears. 

I tell you, honestly and openly, if this whitening of New Orleans stands, none of us will be safe from here on out. If we allow this conspiracy to gain further traction, we do it to the nation’s peril.

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Study Says 80% of New Orleans Blacks May Not ReturnBy James Dao

WASHINGTON – New Orleans could lose as much as 80 percent of its black population if its most damaged neighborhoods are not rebuilt and if there is not significant government assistance to help poor people return, a detailed analysis by Brown University has concluded. Combining data from the 2000 census with federal damage assessment maps, the study provides a new level of specificity about Hurricane Katrina’s effect on the city’s worst-flooded areas, which were heavily populated by low-income black people. Of the 354,000 people who lived in New Orleans neighborhoods where the subsequent damage was moderate to severe, 75 percent were black, 29 percent lived below the poverty line, more than 10 percent were unemployed, and more than half were renters, the study found. The report’s author, John R. Logan, concluded that as much as 80 percent of the city’s black population might not return for several reasons: their neighborhoods would not be rebuilt, they would be unable to afford the relocation costs, or they would put down roots in other cities. For similar reasons, as much as half of the city’s white population might not return, Dr. Logan concluded. . . . If the projections are realized, the New Orleans population will shrink to about 140,000 from its prehurricane level of 484,000, and the city, nearly 70 percent black before the storm, will become majority white. The study, financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was released Thursday, 10 days after the mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, who is black, told an audience that “this city will be a majority African-American city; it’s the way God wants it to be.” The study coincides with growing uncertainty about what government assistance will be available for property owners and renters. Louisiana will receive $6.2 billion in federal block grants under an aid package approved by Congress in December, part of which will be used to help homeowners. But that will not be enough money to help all property owners in storm-damaged areas, Louisiana officials say. . . .  “Administration officials do not understand the suffering of the people of Louisiana,” Ms. Blanco said in a statement. . . .  Elliott B. Stonecipher, a political consultant and demographer from Shreveport, La., said that unless New Orleans built housing in flood-protected areas for low-income residents, and also provided support for poor people to relocate, chances were good that many low-income blacks would not return.

Source: NYTimes

posted 23 January 2006

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DVDs — A Huey P. Newton Story 2001  / What We Want, What We Believe The Black Panther Party Library 

The Spook Who Sat By the Door  / Passin’ It On; The Black Panthers’ Search for Justice /

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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The Katrina Papers, by Jerry W. Ward, Jr. $18.95  The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008)

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The Katrina Papers is not your average memoir. It is a fusion of many kinds of writing, including intellectual autobiography, personal narrative, political/cultural analysis, spiritual journal, literary history, and poetry. Though it is the record of one man’s experience of Hurricane Katrina, it is a record that is fully a part of his life and work as a scholar, political activist, and professor.  The Katrina Papers  provides space not only for the traumatic events but also for ruminations on authors such as Richard Wright and theorists like Deleuze and Guattarri. The result is a complex though thoroughly accessible book. The struggle with form—the search for a medium proper to the complex social, personal, and political ramifications of an event unprecedented in this scholar’s life and in American social history—lies at the very heart of The Katrina Papers . It depicts an enigmatic and multi-stranded world view which takes the local as its nexus for understanding the global.  It resists the temptation to simplify or clarify when simplification and clarification are not possible. Ward’s narrative is, at times, very direct, but he always refuses to simplify the complex emotional and spiritual volatility of the process and the historical moment that he is witnessing. The end result is an honesty that is both pedagogical and inspiring.—Hank Lazer

The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (2008) is a marvelous resource! It’s not like any encyclopedia I’ve seen before. Already, I have spent hours reading through the various entries. So much is there: people, themes, issues, events, bibliographies, etc., related to Wright. Yours is a monumental contribution! The more I read Wright (and about him), the more I am amazed at the depth and breadth of his work and its impact on the worlds of literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, history, psychology, etc. He was formidable! Floyd W. Hayes

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 7 July 2008




  Home    Katrina New Orleans Flood Index

Related files:    “What’s with Mayor Nagin?”  Plan Designed to Take Treme?  The Impact of Katrina Race and Class

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