Racial Disparities Still Rage On In New Orleans, But It Isn’t All Bad News

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black New Orleans 10 Years Post-Katrina.

Drive too fast along the bridge connecting the greater New Orleans area to the city’s predominantly black Lower Ninth Ward — over a large, muddy body of water and across sparse land — and you’ll likely pass the words plastered across a tall industrial building: “City Of Second Chances.” The words reflect the resilient attitude of a city that has spent the last decade battling the challenges Hurricane Katrina left behind. The State of Black New Orleans report released by the National Urban League on Wednesday gives clear context for the many ongoing challenges black residents of New Orleans face in the quality of their day-to-day lives. “[It’s a] commemoration and continuation,” Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League and the city’s former mayor, told The Huffington Post about New Orleans now. “It’s about recognizing and remembering those who died. Many of these challenges are the same as they were in 2005 and disproportionately affect New Orleans’ largely black population, which currently records 100,000 fewer African Americans than there were a decade ago. A personal note: Its devastation and ugly aftermath inspired me at the time to begin writing about major world and national issues along with media work pro bono.

The comprehensive report examines the poor conditions of black life in New Orleans based on data mostly from 2013 and also gives guidance on how to overcome them. It bears repeating some what that first article said – calling Katrina less what nature wrought, more a conspiracy of federal, state and city government along with business interests against the area’s most vulnerable residents – mainly its poor Black population. It is also not a story of perfection,” says Marc Sternberg, K-12 Education Program Director for the Walton Family Foundation. “There’s progress to celebrate and improved academic outcomes. It addresses the inadequacies across a series of statistics that disproportionately affect black New Orleanians across categories including median income, unemployment, health care conditions, education and economic and crime levels, among others. When you don’t have a job or even for those who do have a job it’s still in one of these areas where you’re actually not earning a livable wage so it effects the kids who are still living in poverty,” she said.

As blacks tried to escape their entrapment in flooded areas, neighboring white cities, such as Gretna, set up armed police officers to keep blacks from pouring into their space. A new study conducted by the Public Policy Research Lab at Louisiana State University shows that half of white New Orleans residents say their quality of life in their local community is better, while nearly half of blacks say it is worse since 2005.

I draw on data from the 2000 U.S. census and from the 2011-2013 American Community Survey’s 3-year estimates to examine changes in the demographic and socioeconomic profile of New Orleans’ population. She thinks its time for them to go back to the democratically elected school board. “I know what I intended when I supported it,” she says. “It was to help the school get into a position to then be governed again by the locals. Recovery dollars prioritized upper-class white neighborhoods and tourist locations over low-lying lands that were occupied by predominantly black communities. A decade after the storm, New Orleans has nearly one-fourth fewer residents than it had at the turn of the century with its population dropping from nearly 485,000 in 2000 to almost 370,000 in 2011-2013. It was never intended for it to be forever, in perpetuity.” Some leaders focused on practical needs, like better mental health support for students — both inside and outside school.

The population loss has been particularly significant among blacks with a decline of one-third, nearly three times greater than the population decrease of one-eighth among whites. Just as we’ve seen countless times since Hurricane Katrina — recently in cities like Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore and elsewhere — black feelings of inequality are ever-growing. “Katrina [showed] people in poverty and suffering on live television. By 2013, black and white unemployment rates stood at 13.6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. (The national unemployment rate as of July stood at 5.3 percent.) With income rates low and unemployment rates high, the dots connect to help explain why more than 50 percent of the city’s black children under the age of 18 live in poverty. Davis-Bacon law guaranteeing prevailing wages on federally funded or assisted construction contracts was suspended – letting contractors employ undocumented workers at poverty wages and no benefits. In contrast, as rules were relaxed to bring undocumented labor to rebuild New Orleans, the Latino population increased by one-third between 2000 and 2011-2013.

It wasn’t a report, it wasn’t a testimony, it was live video and it had an effect in the same fashion that video coverage of Eric Garner’s death, Tamir Rice’s death and so many others did and leaves no doubt about what happened,” Morial said. Blackwater USA and other paramilitaries were deployed straightaway – in full battle gear, patrolling streets in SUVs or unmarked cars with no license plates. The growing feeling of injustice helped birth the Black Lives Matter Movement, which, according to the movement’s founders, officially launched after the death of 18-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. This is the sentiment MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and her husband, James Perry, shared in their most recent column in The Nation: As we consider the standing of vulnerable communities in the decade since Katrina and the year since Ferguson, a few things are clear. Nearly 100,000 (largely Black) people “never got back,” he said. “(T)he city remains incredibly poor, jobs and income vary dramatically by race, rents are up, public transportation is down, traditional public housing is gone, life expectancy differs dramatically by race and place, and most public education has been converted into charter schools.” Area African-American households earn half as much as white ones.

Whites 25 and older were four times more likely than blacks to have a bachelor’s degree in 2011-2013, with 63 percent of whites having a college diploma compared to 16 percent of blacks. Higher education rates for women have increased in the city, too — 21 percent of black females earned bachelor degrees or higher in 2013 (compared with 19 percent in 2005). But McConduitt-Diggs has faith that things will get better for New Orleans’ black residents over time. “Many people predicted a twenty year recovery from something so devastating as Katrina — we’re at the halfway point,” she said. Somebody they can just talk to and… give them a sense of normalcy that, as a black male, as a black female, that we can want more.” “It’s a whole process of being able to just really expose the youth and get them to kind of see something different, to want more from themselves,” McKneely added. “Otherwise, everyday on our news, we’re seeing killings.” New Orleans’ high crime rate is still deeply concerning.

Reform efforts are well underway, McConduitt-Diggs said. “The city has aggressively taken on the challenge of reducing the murder rate at the same time the community has collectively engaged in a conversation about the adequate and appropriate use of our jail, and making it more constitutional,” she said. When Katrina struck, lots of nursing home and hospital deaths occurred, Quigley explained. “The jail was full, 7,000 or so prisoners there without electricity, water, everything…(P)eople (were) stranded on house tops…” Tourist, business and other areas important to New Orleans largely recovered – “100,000 of our sisters and brothers in the African-American community never made it back, ever,” Quigley explained. He lied claiming “(m)y administration is going to stand with you and fight alongside you until the job is done, until (the city) is all the way back.

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