'Negro removal' or urban renewal?

David Addams sends this Diversity Inc. editorial titled, "'Negro Removal' or 'Urban Renewal'" that I'm reposting in its entirety since access to their site is subscriber-only:

Anyone who has visited New Orleans in happier days knows that the area surrounding the French Quarter was poor and you had to hike through dicey neighborhoods to get to the casinos. Across the river, there were neighborhoods with levels of poverty most Americans never have seen.

Now there are large swaths of land open for redevelopment. With a clean slate, the old economy that existed to serve residents dependent on federal, state and local aid now pales in comparison with what can be rebuilt adjacent to the relatively untouched French Quarter.

There is no talk about returning those residents to rebuilt housing and schools. Unfortunately, their interests are represented by the same incompetent local and state officials who could not manage any part of this disaster without further incompetent help from hapless federal officials.

The next step in this unfolding tragedy is going to be announcements from agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that assistance is available. We see the reality of Jim Crow-like barriers to getting that aid.

How does a dispersed family access the Internet? Receive mail or a phone call? Why should people trust the government at this point when it is unable to admit mistakes and beg forgiveness in a way that the affected can see and hear?FEMA, under Secretary Michael Brown, is the most egregious example of white affirmative action seen in many years. His experience in running the International Arabian Horse Association has not served him well in organizing competent relief; it is not realistic to think that things will change and that we will see aid empathetic aid to people who were not in the horsy set.

The citizens of New Orleans deserve to be returned to their homeland. They deserve some consideration for being abandoned and having their lives destroyed. And they should be treated with respect and in a way that is competent and adapted to their reality of a history of being ill-served by local and state government. This is a chance to not have "urban renewal" mean "Negro removal."A departure from the pattern we've seen is going to require decisive leadership and vision. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to expect anything but the worst.


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