Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Perfect Storm ...

This continues our consideration of a recent article from the Los Angeles Times entitled "Big Easy Is Uneasy After Death of Black Clubgoer."

"There has been a perfect storm that has ripped the cover off of race relations in New Orleans," said the Rev. Anthony Mitchell, a Baptist pastor who is African American. "The people who control public discourse here don't like to talk about it. It's not good for business. But this is really two cities."

New Orleans City Councilman John A. Batt Jr., who is white, said Jones' death had forced the city to acknowledge racial divisions and address the economic gap between blacks and whites.

"We're in the 21st century," Batt said. "This is not the time nor place to mess with discrimination on any level. Hopefully this will be just a hiccup and we will get back to being one of the great cities of the United States."

A series of battles in coming months will determine whether it will.

Some African American leaders, for example, are marshaling to fight the state's threatened takeover of the local school district, which serves 64,000 children — 94% of them black. The district is in such disarray that teachers nearly didn't get paid last month.

Black leaders also want tourism-oriented businesses to include more African Americans in management and programs to give blacks greater access to homeownership in the city.

"There will never come a day when the last of racism dies," said Silas Lee, an African American who owns a local polling and research company and teaches sociology at Xavier University of Louisiana, specializing in issues related to race and ethnicity. "But we have to address the issue of social, economic and education equity. People need access. They need to be treated fairly. That's all they want."

Next time we will look at the economic side of the issue.

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1 Comments:

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2:46 AM  

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