Thursday, August 29, 2013

The (Un)Natural Disaster of New Orleans

The (Un)Natural Disaster of New Orleans

I wrote this piece not long after Hurricane Katrina and American capitalism devastated New Orleans in 2005.  Katrina brought into relief in the sharpest possible way the crisis of urbanism represented by the domination of space by suburbia in the United States, as well as all manner of problems of race and class under neoliberalism, and the subtle success of capitalism in dismantling the envisioning of collective responses at even the most minimally sane level (for example, leveraging the city's commuter and school buses to transport people without cars out of the city to safety; the military repression of the primarily non-white disaster vitims in the city; etc.)

Since then what has remained is a degree of devastation for the poorest people that has led many who left to not return, and for which the 9th Ward stands as the sign-post of the use of natural disaster as a way to gentrify some areas and drive poor people out.  A wholesale review of this is beyond me here, but there are most certainly people who have written about this with great care.

Other resources:
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers is a monumental monograph of one family's experience.

Common Ground Relief is a group that began out of the disaster and which continues to try and rebuild a New Orleans that is not just a free ride for the real estate developers and corporate hawks.

I normally can't stand Spike Lee, but he has done two good things in the last few years.  The most recent was to condemn that jackass revenge fantasy Django Unleashed by film prick Quentin Tarantino with his statement that "Slavery wasn't a spaghetti Western."  'Nuff said.  The second was to make the two part HBO Series  “If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise”. It is not without its problems, but it is very important for thinking about what has (and has not) happened since 2005.

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