The poet Clint Smith, born and raised in New Orleans, writes from a wistful perspective of the city “kept from becoming.”
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A Review of Chocolate Cities: the Black Map of American Life by Marcus A. Hunter & Zandria F. Robinson, University of California Press. Chocolate Cities is an ode to agency. A work of truth-telling without polemics, this book almost literally breaks new ground, revising our most basic ideas of US geography while questioning the truth claims of social science itself.
In an echo of national worker's rights movements such as Fight for $15 and OUR Walmart, New Orleans hospitality workers are coming together in an attempt to rearrange the building blocks of their industry. Both on their own and with the support of a union, workers are becoming their own advocates, in an effort to — as Marlene Patrick-Cooper, the local organizing director for the UNITE HERE union, often says — "turn poverty jobs into middle-class jobs."
New Orleans is better for being rid of the monuments that commemorated the mythology and actual history of slavery and segregation. But elites still govern. The politics of representation dovetails with the reigning discourse of diversity and a local political economy based on marketing "cultural authenticity. To the extent that antiracism centers of pursuit of recognition rather than altering patterns of distribution it will remain trapped in neoliberal inequakity.
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The back and forth between Democrats and White Supremacists on one hand and Republicans and Free Blacks on the other hand had involved military and paramilitary battles, individual homicides, massive voter intimidation efforts, and so on. The Colfax Massacre was a key point in that series of events. The Battle of Liberty Place was a continuation.