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Name:Polimom
Location:near Houston, Gulf Coast, United States

Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Thugs - and a painful backtrack

I have to backtrack on something I wrote in an earlier post about the term “thug”. Evidently, racists are using the term to refer to black people, and while I still think it’s more likely than not that Mayor Bloomberg was using the word the way I do (in the “classic” sense), I’m far less inclined to stomp on that now.

Why, one might wonder, would I so suddenly change position? Well - I spent a bit of time in a place I haven’t visited in a while (though I’m from Algiers):the Westbank Forum on NOLA.com.

I was sick to my stomach. I wish I'd never read all those poisonous comments - much less on Christmas.

6 Comments:

  • At 6:54 AM, Blogger K from Algiers said;

    I can feel your pain, Polimom. I stopped reading that forum weeks ago. Even then it was too toxic an environment.

    Although my ID is k in algiers, it's a bit out of date. We still have a house there, rented to relatives who lost houses in the East, but we've relocated to central Missouri, where the kids are thriving in the local public schools.



     
  • At 8:12 AM, Blogger Mark said;

    Ah, I never go into the NOLA forums, but I visit another place: nola.us, and have a found a mailing list or two to join where there is a lot of talk about "the criminal element." I know die-hard West Bankers will deny it, and I mean they treat their "colored folk" so well down in Gretna and all, but there is a simmering racial hatred deep down in the white flight suburbs. I came to love St. Benard Parish as deeply as my own home when I worked out there. The people are a textbook example of what is meant by the "salt of the earth". But scratch somebody from the parish or Gretna just hard enough, and out oozes all of this fear and hatred. How do you cure it when one of the two major political parties made racial hatred a corner stone for the last twnety-five years, where AM Radio political shock jocks can say things on the air our parents would have been too embarressed to countenance just a generation ago, even though the same thoughts still lurked just beneath the surface?

    How do we fill a hole that's taken two or three hundred years to dig, when a good third of the people in this country are shoveling it out as fast as we shovel it in, and they have bigger and better shovels?



     
  • At 10:07 AM, Blogger Polimom said;

    You know what, Markus? I don't know how we can do any of the things you asked, but they're good questions.

    At one time, I thought we could, but you called it 100% right: fear and hatred. It's on all sides of the race issue.

    I'd like to think there are only a few people who feel this way. I'd also like to think I don't know them personally.

    But I can't guarantee either of those, and it's unbelievably depressing.



     
  • At 4:08 PM, Blogger Ray in New Orleans said;

    I grew up in Algiers too, and I read the Westbank forums for about a day before I had to just turn them off. Living away from New Orleans for so long, you get used to people having the sense not to talk out loud like that even if they think those thoughts inside.

    When we visited a few weeks ago, we drove around, and Old Aurora is looking pretty run-down compared to 20 years ago. And not all of it was Katrina damage. A lot of it is just the neighborhood not looking too good anymore. Suburban blight setting in.

    If we manage to move back to New Orleans, my wife, who's not a native, has ruled out the Westbank. "It reminds me of East Fort Worth", she says.

    I have this dream of moving back and living in an integrated neighborhood and being friendly with the neighbors who look different from me. Of not avoiding driving down certain streets just because people tell me "it's pretty dark down that way". I want to go back and look at the city in a different way, now that I've lived in places that were more tolerant, and places that were less tolerant. I want to move back with some perspective.

    Maybe it's just a stupid idealist dream, maybe I've got an inflated sense of what my return could accomplish. Maybe I'm just homesick. Fuck, I don't know.

    All I know is, I'd never even been to the lower Ninth Ward until last month. (I lived on the Westbank, went to school uptown...on the rare occassions we needed to go to Chalmette we just took the ferry).

    But it makes me sad to think that I missed my chance to see it, in the same way that people who have never been to New Orleans at all think they have missed their chance to see the city the way it used to be.

    I don't want to make those mistakes again. I want to move back and live in the whole city this time. And know all the people.



     
  • At 9:21 PM, Blogger Polimom said;

    Ray - thanks so much for writing that. I'm homesick too.

    I hope your dream happens...



     
  • At 9:44 PM, Blogger bigboy said;

    It's really too bad, all the crap still going on. My wife and I both grew up in the "inner city". It doesn't matter where. It was black and white hatred nearly sixty years ago "up north" and it is the same in New Orleans today.

    We live in two different worlds. Half of the month we live on Algiers Point and the second half of the month we live in a huge home on a country club.

    I prefer the Point. We have "true" friends here and everyone looks out for everyone else.

    However, living on the west side both before and after Katrina has caused me to go back to my roots. I am now armed to the teeth and my home is heavily alarmed. I can watch the thugs, both black and white, walk up Morgan, some of them confrontational: give me money, give me beer, give me, give me, give me. Some have even tried to step up onto our porch and I had to persuade them to leave.

    I am not sure of what will happen to New Orleans, but, if the "give me" attitude does not change, those of us who do have options will leave and take our resources with us and New Orleans will continue to sink into the mire.



     
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