Thursday, December 06, 2007

Reporting From Harlem

An early New Year's Eve resolution: I will update my blog more frequently in 2008 than I did in 2007. In the meantime...

The Princeton gig went amazingly well. I met some heroes and heroines; was immersed in some heady Negro intellectual convos (man, Ms. Kara Walker is a sho nuff conversation grenade) and had a great time. The reading at Columbia was sparsely attended but ended up being a lot of fun. I will blog about both in the next day or two. I've been battling a serious cold for the last two days (a major wrench in my plans for New York) and am just now coming out of a lovely Nyquil haze. One thing that is bugging the hell outta me, though, before I sign off, is how almost nobody in major media is connecting the dots in New Orleans' manufactured housing crisis while they all line up to fellate Brad Pitt. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Pitt, coming up off 5 million dollars of his own money, rolling up his sleeves and literally helping build 150 homes for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina. But the fact is, Pitt's news story is also a smokescreen for the reality that HUD is bulldozing four large housing projects that were basically untouched by the hurricane and that housed 4,700 families; the land beneath those housing projects has already been doled out. (Home Depot has a lease for some of it.) And is it mere coincidence that New Orleans finally has an all-white city council? As I and countless folk have said before, this is a shameless land grab that has the great additional perks of wiping out a major fount of black American history and culture, of AMERICAN history and culture, for the creation of yet another tourist resort/playground for the rich, white and entitled as this country spirals ever deeper into its racialized class schism. The race and class metaphors and realities for Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath are layers and layers deep, and will unfold for decades to come.


michael a. gonzales said...

...sounds like ya'll took it to the bridge.

Larry-bob said...

I took a trip to New Orleans recently, and one of the highlights was a truth-telling black woman tour bus driver who had been stuck in the Superdome with her children, including a 15 month old. She said "how do they expect to win in Iraq when the National Guard could't even stop drug dealers in the Superdome?"

She also pointed out a lot of the lies that have been told about the return of New Orleans' inhabiatants and the ways in which people have been screwed over in terms of insurance and housing.

The New York Times story on rental housing in New Orleans on Dec. 3 at least did mention the destruction of public housing, but did gloss over a lot of details. Here in San Francisco replacement of public housing with mixed-income projects has been going on for a while; as Baldwin said, "Urban Renewal is Negro Removal."