Friday, January 20, 2006

Chocolate City

"It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," he said. "And I don't care what people are saying in Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day." --New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

Ok, Time to get back to the blog's namesake, Political Karma.

Pretty much since I left Louisiana for Missouri I have lost track of New Orleans news. Sure I hear about the big stuff like corruption, crime and hurricanes because that stuff makes national news. But nothing about the everyday activities of the city. Well, this is one of those national things that is on all tv's.

So I'm getting ready for work Wednesday morning (I think Wed morn) and I turn on the recording of the previous night's The Daily Show with John Stewart. As a sidenote, it's unfortunate that I trust shows like the Daily Show and Colbert Report for my news rather than more mainstream media like the local news, CNN and Fox [yeah, like I can stand Fox News for more than 3 minutes]). So I'm watching The Daily Show and they show a clip of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. I'm thinking, "What now?" Then I here him talk about rebuilding New Orleans and keeping it a "Chocolate City." I immediately pause the show and call my mom. It's always something making New Orleans look bad.

Or is it?

So let's address this concept of "Chocolate City." Is that something a mayor should say? Probably not. While it may be true and may be a goal, unfortunately you just can't say things like that, especially to the media. You can say something like that, but it has to be a little bit more polished than that. Something to the effect that, "we will rebuild New Orleans and make sure the people indigenous to the city, its citizens get the first opportunity be the decision makers, the leaders, the shapers of this city's future." That would have worked a little better than Chocolate City.

I don't have a problem with new orleans being rebuilt as a chocolate city. This is a great opportunity for new orleans to reshape itself and its people. Unfortuantely it is also an opportunity for unscrupilous folks of any race, but probably the typical wealthy white businessman or political figure wanting to make money, to make decisions forcing those that lost their homes to never return. I've heard all kinds of things going on down there (second hand of course). Some of the more affluent condo owners worked to stop the government from placing trailors for those without homes in their neighborhood. In this time of need, all some folks can still think about is their property. I've also heard plans to totally level the 9th Ward, the place hit the worst by the levie break and where many poor familes, mostly black but others as well, and not rebuild it. It is probably these types of events or feelings that led Nagin to say what he said. Being the conspiracy theorist that I am, here's what I think will happen:

They'll tear down the parts that need to be torn down. Either someone will come along and offer an extremely lowball price for property, buy it all up and build expensive, exclusionarily (is that even a word?) priced houses/condos totally changing the make-up of the area forcing poor folks out of their home. Or the government will declare some kind of eminent domain and allow this to happen. It 's already happen near the St. Thomas projects. Structures used to house poor families near the river were torn down making space for exclusionarily priced condos forcing the poor to relocate. Let me not forget the Walmart built either.

But that's just my thoughts.

Believe me when I say this: I am not condoning the presentation of the message, but I am condoning the message. When New Orleans recovers I'd like to see the culture come back. I'd like to see black folks get opportunities to be the decision makers. That is not to say I don't want any one else to have opportunities. Like Nagin said in a later clip, you make chocolate by taking dark chocolate and adding some white milk. I personally would like to add some chai, a little green tea, with a pinch of jalepeno mixed with curry. That's how I like my drink and my government. Something that represents the whole of what's actually out there. Giving all races some form of representation. So yeah, I'm all in favor of a "chocolate city."

One thing I think Nagin forgot while making his MLK speech was that he was black. a mayor and a black mayor at that. Nagin's got to realize that whatever he says will be blown out of proportion by the media. He said that God was mad at the US so he's sending hurricanes, etc. If you are a somewhat spritual person and have been to church at any point in time, you know that stories in the Bible talk about God's wrath. Let me think...he flooded the world (Noah), and destroyed an entire city (Gamorah). But that's if you believe that stuff. Pat Robert's came out and said Aerial Sharone's stroke was God's wrath for his dealings with the Middle East. The media picked up on that, but not like Nagin's comments. Nagin has to realize he needs to couch his statements like the other politicians. Having the same message, but having the media pick up on it differently. I remember watching clips of Sen. Stevens of Alaska throwing a temper tantrum at the thought of Congress taking some of his money for the bridge to nowhere and diverting it to New Orleans. Guess the media didn't think much of that. Nagin wanting a "chocolate city?" Now that's news. Gotta remember Mayor Nagin that if a person of color in America says anything close to outlandish, the media will take off with it portraying you like a baffoon. Just the way it works in the US.

Chocolate City. Gotta love it!

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