In the recovery planning efforts that followed the flooding of New Orleans, we often heard the mantra that we need to have “the community involved in the schools and the schools involved in the community.” I first heard this from Clifton James. I’m sure he was repeating an aphorism, but it made an impression on […]

Read More → How We Chose Our School

What’s in an Acronym I work at an HBCU. That acronym is not recognized by my spellchecker, nor was it in my vocabulary until I came to work here. It stands for “Historically Black College or University,” a term which requires even more unpacking. In a nutshell, the story is this. Once upon a time […]

Read More → Context Clues

I’ll take this article with a grain of salt, but I did find the parenthetical explanation of the racial politics of capitalization helpful. Readers frequently write to ask why I capitalize “Black” but not “white”. Often the question comes with racial resentment attached: there is a feeling that the use of the capital letter reveals […]

Read More → B&w / CC BY 2.0 This passage in a news story caught my eye. Mary Rickard for Reuters: Along with a championship team, New Orleans has a new mayor in Mitch Landrieu, who won election on Saturday by a wide margin. Landrieu, the city’s first white mayor in more than 30 years, pledged to bridge […]

Read More → An Intriguing Notion

I’ve articulated some of my thoughts on the election, yet I see I have left some important stuff out. For one thing, although I’ve been mildly disgusted by this presidential campaign, I’m actually less disgusted by the two major candidates than in any race I can remember. Some friends have expressed dismay that they can […]

Read More → And Yet…

I was hanging out with the neighbors across the street one evening, about a month ago. I was mostly talking to this older gentleman, a guy about 80, nicknamed Easy. We were sharing some Crown Royal and talking about all manner of things. But as I was talking to Easy, I overheard a conversation amongst […]

Read More → White Nigga Rick

Last night I stopped by the Parkway for a sandwich and a glass of wine, on my way to a meeting. I sat at the bar near a woman who was celebrating her birthday with a cosmopolitan. We got to talking — pleasant enough to start with. She asked me where I was from. Funny […]

Read More → Ugly

I just got called “white boy” as I rode my bike past the Iberville projects: “White boy! White boy! Come here!” Just like old times. I haven’t been white boyed since Katrina. Yes, things must be getting back to normal here in New Orleans. By way of contrast, just a month ago I rode my […]

Read More → White Boy

I’m skeptical of the polls on the upcoming New Orleans elections. It’s difficult to conduct an accurate poll under our current circumstances. I’ve seen at least one that used pre-Katrina landline phone numbers. The flaws in that methodology should be obvious to anyone familiar with recent events here, but just to drive the point home: […]

Read More → Don’t Believe the Polls

We have neighbors again! We’ve been the only people living for blocks in any direction, but now there are some Mexican guys living in the upper apartment of the house two doors down. I know they’re Mexican because Johnny told me so. Johnny is the Indian-American slumlord who owns the four buildings immediately adjacent to […]

Read More → Neighbors