Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Tail of Two Cities

Being raised in New Orleans, I believe I had slightly different experience than most. In one respect, it was good reuniting with its diverse population, its savory food, and the combination of brass instruments the produces such a unique sound. On the other hand, It was difficult being reminded of just how much work still needs to be done; how many lives still have yet to be returned to something remotely considered normal. Sure, everyone hopes New Orleans is reborn with the same uniqueness that attracted so many to come visit and with the same culture that attracted so many to call it home, but hope is the easy part. How are we supposed to rebuild when so many still don't have jobs? How are we supposed to move on when so much still reminds us of the past?
The fact of the matter is that New Orleans was plagued with problems long before Katrina ever reached its shores. A poor public school system combined with corrupt city officials ensured that no middle class was ever established. This led to a large part of the city's population living their lives lost in a sea of ignorance. This is the same group of people that we expect to be able to rebuild their lives with little or no help from the government. This is the same group that we blame for not having the proper insurance; for not gutting and rebuilding their homes. Is it right then for us to bulldoze the houses that people cant afford to rebuild? Is it right for us to kick people of out their FEMA trailers? The answer to both of these questions is almost certainly no. But how then is the city supposed to progress and put this tragedy behind them? There in lies the problem. Although they both occupy the same physical space, there's two different cities in New Orleans right now. One city who will do whatever it takes to rebuild the city bigger and better than ever before. And another city fighting to keep the little that the most devastating nature disaster in history of the United States has left them.

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