This may not be the right place to post/share this, and I am happy to delete or move it! But I wanted to make a plug for the 1619 Project, and this post in particular, as helpfully complementing some of the other readings (such as McKittrick and Moore et al) on America's plantation history.
Based on what I have found thus far regarding narratives surrounding the socioeconomic state of New Orleans, there are two predominant ones I have come across: New Orleans as the “laggard,” the city of play but not work, of poor educational quality, and the other of New Orleans as a "comeback" city shaping to a knowledge-based economy following Hurricane Katrina. The former reminds me of racist stereotypes typically used to describe groups of people deemed not to fit within the white supremacist narrative of progress. The other, post-Hurricane Katrina narrative, is portrayed in the media as a phoenix rising from the ashes, one of the “most rapid and dramatic economic turnarounds in recent American history.” I felt an almost visceral reaction to the assertion of one article that “It would be wrong to say the hurricane destroyed New Orleans public schools, because there was so little worth saving even before the storm hit.” I cannot help but be reminded of “terra nullius,” the “empty land” narrative implemented by colonial powers to seize and control land, dismissing the people residing on the land as insignificant to their broader aim of economic and political dominance. In place of public schools, charter schools are perceived as an improvement—but what of the people who were displaced due to the storm and long to return, yet cannot afford to send their children to a charter school and would be forced to bus their kids across the city? Many people end up not returning to New Orleans as a result. I find it interesting to compare these pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina narratives of New Orleans with the information I find from sources such as this one: a shrinking African American population, fewer young people, less affordable housing, increased segregation, etcetera. What do these demographic changes in the city imply for the “ecosystem” deemed ideal for Innovation hubs? As this article asserts, “New Orleans is making a big name for itself among innovative industries and entrepreneurs and the city’s unique vibe plays a big role in that.” On the other hand, City Councilmember Kristen Palmer asserts that “People have been consistently pushed out…If we lose our people and our culture, we lose our city.” What implication does this “burst” in innovation in New Orleans have for both the Anthropocenics of the city as well as its culture, a culture that is stereotyped as one long “party” with intermittent “emptiness,” as opposed to the realities of the people who have resided in the city for generations, or even the people who moved away after the Hurricane and long to return but to no avail? I am curious to see how education, job training (or lack thereof), and issues of housing feed into the anthropocenics of the city. How do grassroots, social justice and environmentalist activists and organizations (such as this one) perceive the changes in the city following the Hurricane compared to innovation hub technicians and CEOs? How do the social and environmental outcomes of Hurricane Katrina fit within the history of "natural" disasters and climate change in New Orleans? I think it is important to keep articles such as this one central to our focus as we move forward with this project.