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Race, Class, Power and Post-Katrina New Orleans, Article Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 777

Article Review

In the article “The War at Home” Jay Arena describes unfair and corrupt behavior of government officials, as well as the upper class businessmen, towards Black middle class communities in New Orleans during Katrina hurricane. The author emphasizes the idea that government associates used the consequences of the natural disaster in order to support their interests in driving out black people out of their communities and re-privatizing their property. In fact, New Orleans’s campaign, designed to satisfy the needs of rich write people, is supposed to become the model of further implementation of such approaches on the remaining area of New Orleans, as well as in the other regions of the United States. Jay Arena’s concern about the domination of power, race, and classes is expressed throughout the article and shown in numerous examples of the illegitimate events that took place both on the territory of St. Thomas housing community and other area of the city.

Jay Arena provides the readers with clear description of unfair politics of the government officials towards different aspects of how power can be used to fulfill the re-privatization plan. Author believes that black people were simply driven out of their houses. The example of St. Thomas community is used as an evidence for this dishonest and prejudiced campaign. “The political leaders, along with bought-off community activists, dutifully responded to the demands of real estate and tourist interests who saw this working class Black community as being “in the way” of “growing” tourism.” (Arena) For this reason, government officials created “redevelopment” and “reinventing” campaign. Black people believed that their houses would be modified and that they would return back to St. Thomas community later. These people lived on some other territory for the period of six months, while “in a further attempt to keep Black public housing residents away, HANO awarded a no-bid contract to Vacant Property Security, Inc. to place steel doors on apartments so residents cannot even return to retrieve their belongings.” (Arena) On the one hand, protection of the houses seems to be well-planned and beneficial idea as it kept people’s houses secured. On the other hand, steel doors simply prevented people from coming back home. In other words, by no means the black people would get into their houses even if they decided to return. The same approach was used in Iberville community, where Katrina has not ruined the houses. Government officials did not allow people to return to their houses, stating that “soil and other environmental tests must first be undertaken to guarantee safety-yet this “concern” is only raised with regard to public housing residents.” (Arena)

Author is highly concerned about the race discrimination as only black communities were the subjects of re-privatization campaigns. In fact, new communities were simply built on the territory, where the black people lived. “In contrast to the “winners,” only a handful of residents have been able to return to the renamed, privatized,  “River Gardens” development, which is being built on the 60-acre site of the old St. Thomas.” (Arena) New “River Gardens” community was developed to satisfy the needs of white people and tourists. Wall-Mart and other commodities were also built on that territory.

Jay Arena also shows how upper class people lobbied their interests. “In contrast to the misery faced by most of the former Black working class residents removed from the area, influential white businessmen prospered.” (Arena) For instance, Pres Kabacoff and Joe Canizaro, real estate magnates, used City Direction Board officials to legitimize the destruction of St. Thomas community. Secondly, low-class or middle-class people could do nothing about re-privatization campaign. “The “public-private partnership” that oversaw the St Thomas “redevelopment” was clearly a disaster for the poorest segments of New Orleans Black working class.” (Arena) They were not only driven out of their houses, but also were left with no chance to return back.

In this article Jay Arena describes corrupt and unjust campaigns in the United States. Author is addressing the topics of lobbying interests of upper-class people’s in modern society. On the one hand, writer depicts rather controversial topic. In fact, some of the ideas are shown only from one perspective to support the author’s evidence. On the other, Jay Arena uses real examples of real people and the events that took place in New Orleans. This article has a good background and looks very persuasive. As a reader, I suppose Jay Arena is right in every single point expressed in “The War at Home”. Moreover, my own perception and understanding of the re-privatization campaign have changed a lot after reading this article.

Works Cited

Arena, J. 2005. The War at Home. ZNet: The spirit of resistance lives. April 29, 2009. <http:/ /www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/5033>

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