Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ray Nagin and the "Chocolate City"

I've listened to the Martin Luther King Day comments and remarks made by Ray Nagin, current mayor of New Orleans, and his Democrat counterpart, Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York. Nagin has recently apologized for certain parts of his comments (which can be viewed here from the New Orleans' WDSU or read from transcript here). However, those parts of the speech were merely concerning the mentioning of God sending the Hurricanes, nothing more. His comments about a "Chocolate City" and how New Orleans will be "one again" has raised a serious uproar both in the city and across the Nation. As being from the area, born there and raised nearby, I find it to be rather disparaging for the kind of frenzy he worked himself into that day. Dr. King would not be proud.

Neither would Dr. King be proud of Senator Clinton's remarks comparing the House of Representatives to that of a plantation. It is just not right. It is a spit in the face to what Dr. King worked towards, that of equality. When remarks like that are accepted by a community at large when they are not the case (and clearly the House is NOT run like a plantation), then you actually take a step back for what Dr. King had accomplished in his life. What the African-American community must realize is that neither party is looking out for their interests and neither party is truly looking for equality. There must be eracism before racism can be wiped from the Earth. We not only should we be not racist but we should also be color-blind to race all together. Morgan Freeman put it best in a 60 Minutes interview about a month ago when posed the question, "How are we going to get rid of racism?" from Mike Wallace, and he responded by saying, "Stop talking about it."

All of these thoughts led me to write in to a specific PBS show, Washington Week, which I have been watching rather regularly as of late. They had a "What were they thinking?" segment that called for viewer comments, and well, I couldn't resist writing in. Apparently they had a shortage of comments this week because mine got in! So without further ado, my ten seconds of fame courtesy of who other than Hillary Clinton and Ray Nagin...

My comment read on on-air...

In response to Ms. Ifill's January 20, 2006 request for comment on her "What were they thinking?" segment:

As a native New Orleanian currently out-of-state, I was stunned to listen to Nagin's remarks. I thought he went off the deep end. However, Nagin and Clinton were doing the same thing. They were both playing to the crowd, which that day was predominantly African-Americans. They were caught up in the moment.

Saying the House is run like a plantation is a degrading statement. It's a far cry from being as repressive as the antebellum plantation system and thus is a slap in the face of the ancestors of many African-Americans these days, the slaves that were oppressed.

For all the talk of New Orleans as a melting pot, what it is and still has been a socio-economically divided city. What Nagin did was evoke a racial tone to an already brewing pot of trouble. From any other mouth such words would make many cry foul. What would have saved him face was not to call for the city to be a "chocolate" city but instead for it to be a "Neapolitan" city again. The city is a rich mix of cultures, and to include one race without the other is completely and utterly racist.

Both set of remarks, from Clinton and Nagin, were uncalled for and cheap allegories that have no place in today's society where we must get past race in order to actually defeat racism.

John Book
College Station, TX

1 comment:

  1. A PARODY Newly revised Redevelopment Plan Unveiled by Mayor Nagin

    (Chocolate City, Louisiana) To allocate labor effectively, starting in April 2006, five gold wrappers will be distributed randomly on candy bars throughout Orleans Parish. Any person who receives a gold wrapper will be granted all permits to begin construction.

    "We will rebuild this Chocolate City," said Mayor Ray Nagin in an impromptu happy hour press conference outside the Crescent City Brewhouse. Nagin, wearing his now signature Willie Wonka hat, stated the details will be revealed in the next few weeks but went on to say five new wrappers will be released every 90 days. Every 180 days one platinum wrapper will be circulated in the parish. The bearer of a platinum wrapper is entitled to $125,000 in secret grant money managed by the city's shadow government.

    Gold wrappers are transferable. No outsiders are entitled to grant money or permits. Certified proof of local elementary school and/or krewe affiliation is required prior to permitting or release of grant monies. A $25,000 processing fee is associated with all gold foil permits. Permits require an annual renewal, and additional fees may apply. All grant money is subject to city council approval.

    Never confuse Hershey and our "Chocolate City with NUTS" :)