Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meet the NOLAs

Blogger Boyd Blundell hits the nail square on with his analogous family the NOLAs in this TPM Cafe posting.

It's been a very bad year for the Nolas; as disastrous a year as anyone can remember. Their house burned to the ground, the entire property is destroyed, and they can't even think about the expense rebuilding the family house until all sorts of even more expensive repairs are done to the property. Most of the people in Bush Gardens are great. They seem to feel really good about helping the Nolas. But when it becomes clear that the help needs to be ongoing, the enthusiasm of many starts to wane...

The Nolas, when they have time to think about it at all, are mystified by all this. "When did we become a them?" they wonder. Less than a year ago, the Nolas were part of the "we"... the Nolas are finding out what it's like to be a "they", to be "those people...."

Ok, stop right here for a minute. Read that last paragraph closely, and think about all of the divisions of race and class and section we have built up among ourselves. Then take a hard look at what the rest of the nation thinks about all of us. Now take another look at that person standing at the next bus stop you pass, the one you always thought of as one of them. Ok, we're done here. Moving onto more from Blundell:

In their darkest moments, they have come to suspect something awful: There is no neighborhood. They realize that the if Bush Gardens could do this to the Nolas, who had been such a celebrated part of the neighborhood, then it could do it to any other family in a similar plight. It is dawning on these wise Nolas that not only will they be abandoned by Bush Gardens, but that the neighborhood they were always so proud of is nothing like they thought it was. And that hurts even more..."

What is it like to be left behind as Americans? In the past, if your skin was white and your job wasn't a primate candidate for outsourcing (a fate as old as the steel and textile collapse of decades past), you weren't likely to have to think too hard about this. Now, an entire major Ameircan city, and everyone in it regardless of race or wealth or education, stands at the bottom of the hole, peering up and wondering how the hell to get out.

Sure, there are some kind people ready to throw you a rope, but where the hole stands today was once your home, your possessions, your job, your life. And it's all rubble beneath your feet at the bottom of the hole, rubble you've lived in the middle of for nine months. While you wait for your turn at the rope, people up above have calm and reasoned discussion about whether or not you should even be allowed to climb out, given the cost.

Is this a great country or what?

I've echoed so many of these same themes here, and struggled with how to tell the neighbors I leave behind in North Dakota how we feel about Katrina fatigue and the haggling in Congress, about how the same thing could happen to them, but I don't think I've hit the note as clearly as Blundel has.

There's no mailto link on his post, but send this one out to everyone you know out of state.

N.B. Props to Suspect Device for sussing this one out.

A month ago I picked this piece up and republished it on my blog.

I believe that this piece should be republished every few weeks until people actually get what it says.
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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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