meghan elizabeth (m_heart) wrote in radicalreads,
meghan elizabeth

Disasters, Natural and Otherwise: Race, Class, and the Destruction of New Orleans by Tim Wise

letter written by tim wise, an author and activist for racial
justice who used to live in new orleans.

feel free to forward the letter to any appropriate contacts.

(sorry about all the little arrows, i copied this from an email.)

Hello all,
>This note is both an announcement and a call for assistance.
>Elaine Katzenberger at City Lights Books, in SF, has tentatively agreed to a
>book idea I floated to her yesterday, and which I would write in the next
>three months. Titled (for now): Disasters, Natural and Otherwise: Race,
>Class and the Destruction of New Orleans, it would provide a comprehensive
>analysis of the factors aggravating the impact of Katrina, as well as
>looking at the race and class biased media coverage, the politics of poverty
>and racism (and the way in which these things remain invisible to so many
>unless there's a tragedy such as this), as well as contrasting retail
>"looting" with the wholesale looting accomplished by the corporate class
>over the past several decades, etc. You get the picture. Basically, a race
>and class analysis of "Natural" disasters.
>Once completed, I am going to donate the royalties (which could be fairly
>decent, depending on how quickly I get it done), to the People's Institute
>for Survival and Beyond, in New Orleans: for those of you who don't know,
>one of the premier antiracism training organizations in the U.S., and which
>has lost its offices (and homes of its trainers and staff).
>Anyway, what I am looking for are any ideas you may have, analysis you may
>wish to provide (for which I would provide you credit, of course, and quote
>you where appropriate), historical references pertinent to N.O. itself or
>the Gulf Coast, source materials I might wish to consult, etc.
>I already have seen pretty much all of the good progressive and radical
>commentary on the storm so far, so I don't need links to stuff that has
>already been published. But if you stumble upon something really unique, or
>have something of your own unique to add, send it on.
>I am especially interested in anything that those of you who (like me) have
>lived in New Orleans, or lived there until the storm, might have to offer.
>Since I have been out of the city for about a decade, I am not necessarily
>as aware as I should be of the current political/economic and social
>dynamics in the city (except insofar as they are pretty much unchanged since
>Specific info I need (some of which I have, but just in case):
>Data on poverty, income, unemployment in the N.O. area.
>Analysis on the race and class dynamics behind Nagin's Mayoral victory
>Analysis of the ongoing salience of Institutional Racism in NO (info from
>People's Institute folks would be especially helpful here)
>Info on the role of Hope VI in tearing down public housing
>Info on the police (brutality incidents post-1996)
>Historical info on race and class in N.O.
>Info on wetlands restoration or the lack thereof in LA
>Info on former Gov. Foster's attack on environmental justice and the Tulane
>Environmental Law Clinic
>Info on the state of NO public schools
>Info on gentrification in and around the warehouse district of NO and the
>Bywater, Marigny, etc.
>Analysis on how these region-specific references and analyses dovetail with
>situations throughout the U.S., in other cities, etc.
>Info on the casino economy in and around Biloxi, etc
>And anything else you think might be especially important.
>The book will be a collection of essays, in which this material is
>interwoven. It is not going to be an academic treatment, but one that will
>be easily readable and accessible to folks who aren't already deep into race
>and class analysis, yet at the same time, still informative and meaningful
>to those who are.
>In the midst of this tragedy, we owe it to the people of New Orleans and
>Gulf Coast, as well as the nation, to try and open the eyes of those who
>have ignored racism and classism for so long, as well as to make sure our
>own eyes are always open. As a writer, this will be my part and my goal in
>that regard. Any assistance you can offer would be appreciated.
>Tim Wise
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