Saturday, March 8, 2008



I am proud to be a neighbor in this historically relevant Black New Orleanian neighborhood. I feel honoured to live in a historically relevant neighborhood. I am a neighbor to the Mount Moriah Church where Pastor Harvey still preaches. Pastor Harvey marched with Martin Luther King, Jr.. Mahalia Jackson used to sing at this church. The Buffalo Soldiers, the original "dreadlock rastas" (Bob Marley) formed up the street on Walnut Street when this area was called Greenville, LA. This community of Americans of African decent were some of the first to enjoy the middle class prosperity that came with the unions. My Black New Orleanian neighbors teach me how to be a neighbor. They stop and speak with me, they wave to me as I pass by, they watch out for me, and my house and I with them. My Caucasion neighbors barely dane to nod at me even when I give them a wave or look them directly in the eye and say hello, as I have learnt to do as I have become a New Orleanian. My white neighbors, are often just cutting through the street to walk their dogs, many whom I have made gestures to are just not nice or polite neighbors, they seem very shut down socially and emotionally. They are a part of the gentrification of this neighborhood. These folks bring dogs, fences, paid security and I have observed how they fortress themselves in their homes against "other".

If we want things to change in New Orleans or anywhere in the world where there is racism and classism, then we need to get out in the streets and interact with each other. We are lucky in New Orleans, that type of social interaction necessary to bring about integration and fellowship is already a large part of the community. If only the white folks coming in to this neighborhood through what seems to be a concious intention of gentrification could learn to be a neighbor and part of this rich cultural community. It could start with the realization that belonging to a neighborhood association that ignores the name of this neighborhood - "The Black Pearl" as identified on the US Census and renaming itself the "The Uptown Triangle" is not integrating 'with' - it is creating it's own little world and then hiring priovate security to keep themselves safe.

Leyon Gaines was shot 2 blocks from where NOPP houses imported Chilean citizens to train them as private security guards here on 3 month visas. NOPP vehicles are constantly driving in this neighborhood picking them up and dropping them off. Their presence made no difference in stopping Leyon's death.

Becoming a neighbor, a part of the community, is what will bring about change.

To read another posting about this awesome neighborhood:

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