Apparently, some local officials are concerned that New Orleans, of all places, is a little too black. Builders in St. Bernard Parish have been blocked from renovating existing and building new rental properties because of fears that crime will increase if the area continues to attract renters. Coincidentally, the increase in renting has accompanied a drop in the white population of the parish (down to 77 percent from 84 percent, pre-Katrina). Thankfully, federal court Judge Helen Berrigan has overruled these local decisions identifying them as “camouflaged racial expressions.”
But, St. Bernard Parish councilman Wayne Landry says:
‘I’m absolutely sick and tired of being called a racist!’ Landry admits that in the rush to rebuild, mistakes were made, especially with the blood-relative ordinance. But he says the intent was not racist—it was to bring back the people who lived there before the storm.
‘We had a bedroom community. Everybody knew everybody. Houses got passed down from generation to generation. They were trying to preserve that. Nothing wrong with that,’ he says…
…’We should have the God-given and government-given right to govern this parish to protect the property values and the people for their life, and for all of the values of their community,’ he says. ‘It has nothing to do with race. It has to do with the economic stability of the people of this parish.’
Gotta love it when “protecting our values” means keeping it all-white. One resident so eloquently states:
‘It’s not discrimination,” Buras says. “It’s called self-preservation.’ Buras says he doesn’t want the kind of crime problems that have plagued housing projects in New Orleans. ‘You see what’s going on in those,’ he says, ‘not just in the black community. I mean, there’s good and bad. Some of them could be Nobel Peace prizewinners. With any low income, you have bad element: You got your prostitution moves in, you got your drug gangs come in.’
Self-preservation? Hmm. I wonder what kind of “threat” you’re facing there, bud. Nobel Peace prizewinners? Like, ahem, a certain sitting U.S. President? I guess we’ve narrowed our stereotypes down to two options now. Black folks can be criminals or they can be president. Either way, they wouldn’t be allowed to rent a house in St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans.