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It's not Racist to Care About Your Neighborhood

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An article in the New York Times made my blood boil. The headline reads “Housing Battle Reveals Post-Katrina Tensions ,”and the article is little more than a two-page accusation of racism against thepeople of St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans.

Neighbors are oftenaccused of racism when they fight unwanted development. It happened a few months ago here in Houston,when neighbors fought the Harris County Hospital District’s effort to buy MemorialHermann Southwest. (Never mind thatthese neighbors have chosen to livein one of the most diverse, ethnic partsof the City).

The accusations are often raised by advocates who didn’t get theirway. (In the case of St. Bernard Parishit was David Jarrell, a lawyer for one of the projects’ supporters.) They are a convenient way to ignore the realissues. Low-cost housing has a long andstoried history – including such notable failures as the Cabrini Green andRobert Taylor Homes in Chicago. Byaccusing St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans of racism, Mr. Jarrell doesn’t haveto answer to that history.

It was the same with Memorial Hermann Southwest. Neighbors were at first open-minded to thesale. They hoped for improvements in thehospital. But the Harris County HospitalDistrict never promised improvements, and when the doctors threatened to leave,neighbors feared they would lose the hospital. These concerns were brushed aside with accusations of racism.

The residents of Southwest Houston won their battle against a horribleidea. Time will tell in St. BernardParish. But please remember two things. First, we all want the same thing – safe, vibrantneighborhoods in which to live and work. It’s wrong to call that racist. Second, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

<br clear="all"> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/us/04housing.html?hpw

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I know very little about SB Parish. I am struck that the Parish had about a 90% anglo population, according to the 2000 census. With it just east of the OP, I figured it might be more diverse.

The HMSW deal was thwarted from the beginning, IMO. HMMS has too much vested in that area with their joint phys/rehab center, and University Place.

HCHD will probably invest in the area. People in the area will probably still dislike it, mostly because it will demand a lot of room….a lot.

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New Orleans is like the Detroit of the south. Once trends like neighborhood tipping and white flight took hold, the city was basically handed over to the black community for leadership. In turn they enacted policies of retribution and now have a thriving tourist industry where a thriving oil industry once was. Not all whites left and the situation is not as racially segregated in the city as it was when whites were in power. Where the whites landed from their flight is in places like St. Bernard or Jefferson Parish. They, like the surrounding suburbs of Detroit, have looked at the rotting city core as the fault of the black's leadership. Hence this volley of accusations on both sides. Having been raised in NOLA and Harahan, I can tell you that race plays a crucial role in the politics and public developments. While the article may sound simplistic, it is one side of a complex issue and may have some truth to it.

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