• Susanna Hegner

    Great article, Mr. Cohen.
    Your findings (and those of Katrina Truth) align with the numbers released by the Data Center, a valuable resource for demographic information on New Orleans. Their figures tell a very different story from the city’s official Katrina 10 narrative: a staggering poverty rate, a significant drop in the ratio of African-American residents to white residents, high income inequality and a disappointing number of (mostly black) residents who are still displaced: http://www.datacenterresearch.org
    Thankfully, as you mentioned, there are many organizations fighting on many fronts for a more equitable recovery. Among our partners there are the Jeremiah Group, whose successes include the largest affordable homeownership program in New Orleans’ history, and One Voice Louisiana, which has ensured enfranchisement of displaced residents and supplied critical data for fellow advocates.
    The reality of the recovery and the organizations’ efforts was the subject of our oral history archive post yesterday, in which leaders of those groups describe their post-Katrina perspectives:
    http://mrbf.org/archive/k10-reflections-new-orleans-uneven-recovery
    Thank you,
    Susanna Hegner
    Communications Officer
    Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
    Winston-Salem, NC

  • Albert Ruesga

    Hi, Rick. Just a few quick comments here:

    It’s not surprising that a city with so many needs, whose tax base has not yet recovered from the devastation and out-migration due to Katrina, would want to put on its glad rags and focus on the positive. It’s part of the Mayor’s job to encourage investment in New Orleans, and many of us residents—black and white—are grateful for his advocacy. What the KatrinaTruth.org advocates are presenting is also part of the present reality in New Orleans. Deep poverty and wide racial disparities persist in our community ten years after the storms. Nobody, including the Mayor, would deny this.

    What is the truth about New Orleans post-Katrina? It’s a complex picture. I urge your readers to take a close look at the Data Center’s “New Orleans Index at Ten” report [http://www.datacenterresearch.org/reports_analysis/new-orleans-index-at-ten/] and other sources of information to get multiple perspectives.

    I can’t speak for all of the local nonprofits you mention in your article, but I can speak for the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF). Our K10 “partnership” with the City consists in co-sponsoring a convening on August 28th primarily for philanthropoids titled, “Fulfilling the Promise: Charting the Path Beyond Katrina at 10.” This convening is designed to raise and address many of the issues highlighted on the KatrinaTruth.org website, among others.

    I should mention, by the way, that neither the Advancement Project nor its local partner, FFLIC, ever approached us about the Katrina Truth website. FFLIC has been a grantee of our foundation, and we’re funding other Katrina-related projects that focus specifically on racial equity issues—e.g., the Urban League’s “State of Black New Orleans” report that will be released at its RISE conference on August 27th.

    Unfortunately your article gives the impression that GNOF and other local partners might have conspired to whitewash the challenges we still face as a city and a region. Nothing could be further from the truth. The claim that our community’s racial disparities have all but disappeared—a claim that NOBODY is advancing, by the way—would indeed be laughable. But equally absurd is the idea that in ten years our City has made no forward progress in any domain. We need to keep it real even as we struggle to undo the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and an abiding racial animus.

  • livingcity

    Thank you for doing this. I give the other side of the Katrina story in my book, “We’re Still Here Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City” but getting the truth out through many venues is critical.
    Roberta Brandes Gratz