The New Orleans Fetish: The Real Reason New Orleans got no help after Katrina

I like it when people list reasons to save New Orleans:

  1. It’s morally the right thing to do
  2. It’s the government’s obligation to protect it’s cities and citizens
  3. Because New Orleans is so special

The third reason, perhaps the most compelling argument to some, is actually what is hurting the systemic relief effort the most.

This is not because New Orleans is not special or not unique; it is because those who don’t give a d@mn about New Orleans have made it seem so special, so unique, so un-ordinary that it’s something that’s “nice to have, but not necessary to keep.” It’s too Black. It’s too French. It’s too “cultural.” That’s all B.S. code for it’s not really American.

On this 2nd anniversay of Hurricane Katrina, I am getting sick of people like G. W. Bush talking about how “special” New Orleans is. When they do relief the right way after hurricanes in Florida and other places, they don’t do it because Florida or Floridians are so special. They do it because the people of Florida are actually considered Americans.

Think next time before you so quickly agree that New Orleans should be saved because it’s special.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

One response to “The New Orleans Fetish: The Real Reason New Orleans got no help after Katrina”

  1. regi allen says :


    kudos on your new gig. the revolution might be televised.

    regi allen

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