Thursday, September 27, 2007


Many of us have well-defined perspectives about New Orleans and the heroics of many of her citizenry who were motivated by the good of the many during Hurricane Katrina, witness many of her health care workers and loyal police officers in a department which had been rocked by successive scandals who remained on duty during the calamity. Likewise, Hurricane Katrina exposed her vulnerabilities – especially her infrastructure and the attitude of entitlement that characterized many of her citizenry.

This writer recently received a forwarded letter written by a long-time resident of New Orleans that puts another face on this disaster.

“It’s easy to take supermarkets for granted. Prior to Katrina, the closest supermarket, ie, large grocery store was Winn-Dixie, 12 miles away. It was a dirty store, food often not fresh, fish smelling bad, with a particular clientele--a clientele that would drive you into a rage, blood boiling, as they stood at the checkout and demanded coupons they did not bother to clip themselves, proclaimed that they did not have enough money, decided to change some item for some other item and thereby shut down the cash register as the cashier walked away to make the exchange, or just acted out the total bitches they were as they verbally abused the employees and everyone else in the vicinity.

It was, I think, a New Orleans thing, revenge on the world for their plight, which included the burden of stupidity and poverty exacerbated by the stupidity, and the welfare state attitude, and revenge on any Whites who happened to be involved. I would hope that few people know what I am talking about.

Homes throughout many square miles of New Orleans were flooded. Everything in the vicinity of this store got four to six feet of floodwaters. Some a bit further away got water into the attics. Everyone had to go somewhere else, and for many, there wasn’t much to come back to, no resources to fix it, no way to sell it, no way to live in it, no utilities, no stores, no transportation. Closest supermarket even as of yesterday was 18 miles away.

There have been all sorts of conspiracy theories about large scale machinations by the power elite of this area to create bureaucratic institutions that would exclude certain types of people from returning. The mayor, now world famous for his importunate comments, said he was going to change New Orleans into a “Chocolate City”. That went round the world in 24 hours. The Chocolate folks, the Black ministry foremost among the outspoken, were the theorists proclaiming that the White man was going to keep the Blacks from returning. Obviously competing and contradictory accusations, a self-defeating situation overall, no matter which lie a person wanted to support.

Then, some public figures with more smarts and common sense than the conspiracy theorists pointed out that the power elite of this area do not have the organizational skills or acumen to accomplish such a thing even if they wanted to, and that is a fact, we might say a proven fact, seeing how they handle more simple things, such as a building permit or a parking meter.

Well, what got me onto this is what a wonderful day this has turned out to become, wonderful in a way that the unflooded would not understand.

That same Winn-Dixie was reinvented, reorganized, rebuilt, restocked, cleaned, now brimming with upbeat people, wonderful looking food, fresh fruits and vegetables, well designed, well serviced, up to California standards, and now back to 12 miles from home. The parking lot was jammed. People were jubilant, smiling, in celebration.

And, this is about a supermarket. It speaks to the deprivation that has been going on here for a long time. And another peculiar thing, there were Whites and Blacks in abundance, but not a single soul causing any problem whatsoever. Something has definitely changed…”


Ned Buxton

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