“There is no anti-racist certification class”

On his blog, “Scott Woods Makes Lists,” poet Woods posted:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.

Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another, and so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.

It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

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“the smallest possible gesture”

This is what a friend wrote today, as Lee is removed from his place on our city streets, the last of the 4 main monuments defiling our public streets that were placed to strengthen the white supremacy movement in the decades after the Civil War. (There are, however, 3 more Confederate statues of much less prominence that still need removal. Still, as my pal says beautifully here: we are beginning to approach the truth.)

…Black children can expect and, by every measure, will receive, substantially worse treatment than their white peers within the educational system, the healthcare system, the policing and justice systems, the housing and financial markets, in terms of their prospective employment and earnings. Hell, they will have a harder time on Tinder and Grinder.
Parents of black children already get to explain why this is and try their best to prepare their children to navigate these evidence-based realities.
One less white supremacist being honored in the street is actually the smallest possible gesture available that we can bestow on these children.

One less statue doesn’t change these realities. But it begins to approach the truth. There has never been truth and reconciliation in this country, so we keep recycling white supremacy into different iterations, instead of dismantling it (Jim Crow! Mass Incarceration!).

We can’t begin to face white supremacy without truth telling. And most Americans (of all backgrounds) are not taught the fullness of the truth about the founding of this country or how it prospered. Most aren’t taught what slavery entailed, or how it persists in different forms today. Taking down Lee is simply acknowledging these truths.

Second Line For Equal Justice by John Calhoun – GoFundMe

My name is John Calhoun, and I am working with over a dozen Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and the Orleans Public Defenders Office to plan a Second Line For Equal Justice to raise awareness about the crisis our public defenders office is facing and to encourage our city and state governments to adequately fund indigent defense.

Source: GoFundMe

Battle of the Battlefield

Important history from writer Eve Abrams on preservation and home, race and privilege as we celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans:

About 30 families lived in Fazendeville, and all, like the Cagers, went back generations—perhaps to its beginning around 1870, when Jean Pierre Fazende, a free man of color, New Orleans grocer, and opera lover began subdividing the slim tract of land he’d inherited from his father—also named Jean Pierre Fazende—and selling off parcels to recently freed slaves.
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In the mid 1800s, local citizens organized to erect a monument in honor of their ancestors’ sacrifice and Andrew Jackson’s victory. Dwindling funds and the Civil War stalled construction, but by the 1890s, the Louisiana Society of the United States Daughters of 1776 and 1812 passionately took up the cause.

The National Park Service had powerful allies. Among them was the Chalmette Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, headed by Mrs. Edwin X. de Verges, as well as her dear friend Martha Robinson, New Orleans’ grand dame of preservation, who headed the Louisiana Landmarks Society. –

…Wielding influence and tenacity, she (Robinson) convinced both the railroad and the previously intractable Kaiser Aluminum to donate valuable acreage. Protecting a chapter of history was clearly at the forefront of Robinson’s agenda, yet dispossessing a community was the next, necessary step. “Rather than get tangled up with Martha Robinson,” write Abbye A. Gorin and Wilbur E. Meneray, “politicians considered an alternate course.” Several of these politicians—Congressman F. Edward Hebert, Senators Russell B. Long and Allen J. Ellender—took up Robinson’s cause. They introduced legislation in Congress to purchase land for the park in time for the Battle’s 150th anniversary. The resolution passed, and President Kennedy signed it into law just months before he was assassinated.

“The government did eminent domain on us in 1964,” explains Valerie Lindsey Schxnayder, whose father was the last to leave Fazendeville. He moved his entire home —by trailer—to Reynes Street in the Lower Ninth Ward, where it was flooded the following year in Hurricane Betsy, and swept down the block in Katrina. In the mid-1960s, the market price for a new home in St. Bernard was around $16,000; residents of Fazendeville received around $6,000 per home. With Lindsey and the other citizens of Fazendeville gone, The Village was wiped away.

See more at: http://www.louisianaculturalvistas.org/defeat-fazendeville/#sthash.XAS9Bgam.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.louisianaculturalvistas.org/defeat-fazendeville/#sthash.XAS9Bgam.dpuf

Community Architect: The Future of Public Markets and the Case of the Lexington Market in Baltimore

A very good description and some simple rules for revitalizing public shed markets written by a Baltimore architect. He focuses his attention on the Lexington Market (which I have visited when in the area for farmers market business) and is a market that he seems to work near enough to observe regularly. I remember on my visits being impressed by the vitality of this market even though the quality and quantity of healthy goods seemed low. I actually still think about this market regularly, because it was a particular kind of anachronism that reminded me of visiting the old West Side Market in Cleveland in the 1960s/1970s; in other words, it still seems exactly like those dark and chaotic largely forgotten shed markets that were sprinkled throughout many American cities back in the mid 20th century. He points out that Lexington already has regular shoppers and acts as a food hub in what is largely a food desert, which is a significant point. It’s interesting that he seems to think that finding ways to attract tourists is one key to making this market really work, which may or may not be true in my estimation. I’ll leave that discussion for another time and post.

In any case, as pointed out by the author, the attention paid recently to many of these markets has often led to one of two outcomes: either successfully engineered spaces full of event activities and local color/products, filled regularly with proud residents on the weekends and eager tourists during the week, OR badly re-designed ones with ridiculous lighting and signage telling us of their authenticity with wide empty aisles and too much of one thing. Unfortunately, the French Market (especially after its hot mess of recent equally overdone and underdone renovations) is more of the second with chunks of the Lexington Market’s structural and place-based issues to solve, but I do believe that it is due for its renaissance. However, it has always seemed to me that the job of French Market director may require someone with the letter “S” on his or her undershirt. Last time I checked, I believe that the job included:
maintaining a significant number of historical buildings for the city
being landlord to the uptown side of the Pontalba building/apartments
overseeing the anarchistic artist and reader colony space in Jackson Square
recruiting and serving the permanent storefront tenants from Jackson Square to Ursuline
creating and managing events constantly. (This seems simple, but one question I always have is why they hold events on the big days like French Quarter Festival and why not instead spend their time on driving traffic there once those events are over and just ride that wave of big days with little programming and lots of amenities available like available seating, well-stocked bathrooms and helpful FQ ambassadors on hand.)

and oh yeah- somehow revitalize the 2 open shed markets at the Barracks end so that locals will come too. Honestly, having watched the last few eras of FM leadership closely, it seems that these open sheds take up 75% of the time and goodwill in that job, while supplying little of the income. What must be understood by the FM board and city officials is that the location of these sheds is now and will remain out-of-the-way for residents, and with no access to public transportation that fact can be deadly for robust day vendor sales if not addressed directly.

In addition, the massive size and varied uses of the French Market district presents a very different set of spatial problems and possible solutions than what was possible for the small D.C. Eastern or even its slightly more appropriate D.C. sister, the newly fabulous Union Market or any number of others that I or others have visited in the last two decades. The bad history of the last 40 years at the French Market has also meant that people actually have a negative perception, not just a neutral perception of this space and working on those sheds a little at a time is too little to change that to positive. The very serious lack of nearby farm production also needs to be acknowledged and means that simply signaling that local goods are welcome to be sold will not be enough to have enough on hand. And lastly, what to do with the dozens and dozens of vendors who exist there presently? Incentivize a product change or focus on encouraging them to move on to storefronts to make way for new ideas?

One can compare the French Market to the St. Roch Market to see how different their outcomes and the work to make it so. And yet, even with the small footprint and uses needed for St. Roch, look how many millions and how much time it has taken to just get to someone leasing it, much less actually successfully filling it with dynamic retail operators!

The good news is that new leadership at the French Market has the energy and the experience as a storefront business owner to understand and address many of the issues that remain to be solved at the French Market, but will still need time and patience to get his board, staff and neighbors to understand the nature of open space, day vendors and the shoppers/visitors that they might attract. And the entire team will need to add to their skill set because there is a different level and type of attention that must be paid to the engineering of activity and products here than was needed in the golden age of American public markets or even that has proven to be successful in public market projects in other cities. Finally, as a FQ resident, I want it to be identified with my neighborhood and to underscore the type of cultural qualities that we hold in high esteem.

from the original post:

Consultants, of course, also aim at the currently totally un-yuppified food selections, in which each baker (there are seven) has the same yellow cakes smothered in colorful oily frostings, and where there is more fried food than exotic fruit. But here, too, lingers the danger of eliminating the authentic Baltimore grit, with specialties like pigs’ feet, freshly cut veal liver (“baby beef”) that can only be had here or in some of the Asian supermarkets out in the County. Most famously and maybe most Baltimore, of course, is Faidley’s, with its seafood, oysters and crabs and, most importantly, the Baltimore crab-cakes, which are shipped on demand nationwide.

Discussions about the Lexington Market quickly touch nerves, depending on with whom one speaks, because the market serves various needs and maybe evokes even more aspirations. There are those who love its gruff authenticity and old fashioned food choices, there are those who use the market for their daily shopping because adjacent neighborhoods to the west have scarcely any stores, and then there is a growing number of people who think that the market surely doesn’t live up to its potential and needs a major re-set. Community Architect: The Future of Public Markets and the Case of the Lexington Market in Baltimore.

Unfathomable City

Unfathomable City: A New Orleans AtlasUnfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote an earlier review of this book ( I keep busy) and have now decided to update it since receiving the actual published book as I used the advanced reader copy for the previous review and now after reading more of it in a different location than the last time and viewing all of the maps that weren’t in the ARC and let me share that I did all of that new stuff all on All Saints Day, no less. Told you: multitudes.

I decided to do it without the cranky insertion of MY New Orleans up front that was in the previous review and to simply state that it’s a well designed, well-edited and at times beautifully written and illustrated homage to our mysterious city.
This book gives credit where credit is due. To the city’s geography, to its outlandish robber barons of bananas and oil, to the nameless and named that have brought us and bring us music, food, and public displays and joy and sorrow and pain and punishment. It neatly shows a number of juxtapositions that may be uncomfortable for some to view and others that are certainly unfathomable, but it does show them. There. credit given.
Now, back to me:
If you look through my reviews, you can spot a certain fondness for maps. I love them and love poring over them before, during or in spite of actually traveling to the place depicted.
If you read my reviews, you will no doubt spot a serious fondness for essayists. I admire what seems to me to be honest human bravery in extending a point or a purpose to a new end. Taking a walk with an author is how I visualize an essay, and yes there are times that I turn back before getting to the end, but I still appreciate the offer. So maps and essays seem like two sides of one coin and when put together well can alter or color each other’s point and purpose.

So that this is a book of illusory and real maps combined with odd and delightful essays, edited by two sensitive writers is enough for me to tell you.

Let me let the writers and artists tell you themselves in essays and maps such as:

Civil rights and Lemon Ice

Hot and Steamy: Selling Seafood and Selling Sex

Ebb and Flow: Migrations of the Houma, Erosions of the Coast

Juju and Cuckoo: Taking Care of Crazy

Stationary Revelations: Sites of Contemplation and Delight

The first essays introducing this book are alone worth poring over and sharing; how often is that true? That should tell you about the care and thought put into this entire work and offer the best reason to plunk down your money, open it and thumb through while having a Pimm’s or a coffee in front of you, tucked away in a shady corner of our shared city. Enjoy it all.

View all my reviews

8 years ago, 5 years later, 1 year since.

2005: Katrina/Federal Levee breaks

2010: BP oil spill

2012: Isaac/destruction of levees and chemical spills in Plaquemines Parish.

See other indignities suffered by our little watershed:
Neither too early nor too late

(Anyone still wonder why we drink every day?)