Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tough Change in the Big Easy

Interesting story here of the changing demographics of New Orleans, post-Katrina.  It seems there's been a rise in the number of Hispanics in the City, and there is some tension between them and the black residents of what had (pre-Katrina) been come to be seen as a predominately black city.  A couple of observations....

I love New Orleans, or at least the two blocks immediately around Bourbon Street.  Can't find a bad meal there, and the coffee and beignets at the Cafe du Monde are to die for...

I also have a soft spot for Hispanic people--one that is born to some extent of a "prejudice" I have, which is that Hispanic people are very hard-working.  I realize not all Hispanics are hard working--so maybe it's just the ones that I see working.  New Orleans suffered a devastating blow in 2005, and rebuilding it required labor--in some cases, unskilled, low-wage labor.  Who showed?  Hispanics.  In large numbers.  That the City has rebounded as fast as it has is a credit at least in part to the hard work of this army of workers who arrived to put their shoulders to the load.  Read the story linked to here--what comes up again and again are the stories of opportunistic Hispanics who saw in the rebuilding of New Orleans a chance to raise their economic conditions.  That's the American way, people!  That it is so often taught to us these days by people of dubious legal status is troublesome, but you have to admire their ethic.

As for the black community and its growing resentment of the newcomers, this too is a classic American story, that of the demographic in power beginning to feel pressure from below.  White America saw some of this in the great migration of southern blacks to America's northern cities from the South in the 20's, and now New Orleans blacks are seeing some of it from the influx of Hispanics.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term.  Until then, "laissez le bon temps rouler"!

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