Monday, April 05, 2010

here comes the sun

a few weeks ago, i was fortunate enough to travel to new orleans for a few days of patois: the 7th annual new orleans international human rights film festival. i sat on a panel about housing and displacement with staff and members from my job, and other housing activists from miami and new orleans. the festival was phenomenal, and i learned a lot about the specifics of state-sanctioned displacement and gentrification in new orleans.

it was worse than i suspected.

to make a long, awful, though resistance-laden story short, new orleans' city council voted to destroy virtually all of the city's public housing before katrina even hit. months after the storm, when many public housing residents hadn't yet returned, all of the public housing developments were boarded up and since then, all but one has been destroyed. even the ones that hadn't suffered any damage from the storm--which was the majority of them. what this effectively did was ensure that even if those low-income, primarily of color, displaced new orleanians made it back to new orleans, they would literally have no place to live.

despite the grim outlook, there was some sunny business:

1. mayday new orleans rocks. they're one of the kick-ass organizations down there doing amazing work to prevent the demolition of the last public housing development. bonus: the head of that org's name is samuel l. jackson. and he's the best kind of local celebrity.

2. sunni patterson. she functions as the cultural mouthpiece of nola. born and raised in new orleans public housing, she's one of the most respected spoken word poets up in that piece. i got a chance to see her perform and she killed it! or, brought it back to life. she's also mad fly and super pretty. black girls keep rockin it...

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