Monday, September 25, 2006

New Orleans rising...or is it?

There's big excitement in New Orleans today. The hometown football team, the Saints, are returning to play in the Superdome, an arena that during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last year became a symbol of all that went wrong during the disaster. People were going without food or clean water, or bathroom facilities. People were dying in a place that was supposed to be their salvation.

And now the Superdome has undergone a $186 million renovation, is sparkling with newness and rebirth, and will re-open today with roaring crowds and music groups including U2 and Green Day. Great, right? What was a symbol of devastation and tragedy is now a symbol of hope and renewal. Right?

Well, I'm not quite sure. Something just doesn't sit right with me. While all that money (not public, to be sure) was poured into a sports arena, people are still trying to just get their homes gutted, nevermind trying to rebuild. Money is slow to come from government agencies, and I'd guess that money to charitable agencies has slown down as well. Sure, re-opening the Superdome means jobs, and income to the area, and people filling up empty hotel rooms.

But who gets to enjoy those games? Who gets to go and cheer in that brand new stadium? Not the people who are still trying to piece their lives together, the people whose homes still look as they did a year ago. Not the people who live in New Orleans (hence filling hotel rooms). And from the looks of the news report I saw last night, not any person of color.

So while the renovation and re-opening of the Superdome is a light of the promise of New Orlean's return to its former glory, I'm still asking myself if indeed everything will go back to the way it was before Katrina. Because I don't think that's a something to aspire to.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Beth :)
    I agree that this may not be the best news to hit New Orleans. It is sad that the state is more concerned with the economic rebuilding of the state more than the physical rebuilding. It says much about the bureaucracy of the state. We already know, based on how they handled the disaster in general, how little they're concerned with the well being of the city's inhabitants (the less wealthy one's, anyway). This is just a little more blatant.
    I was surprised to see that U2 is going to perform at the new Superdome. As politically conscious as Bono is, I would have thought that this may have made him a little apprehensive. I hope we are missing something and that this will, in fact, help with the ACTUAL rebuilding of the state, otherwise it is just a waste.