Disaster Capitalism: New Orleans Abandons Its Low Income Residents Post Katrina

Getting Back to Abnormal

Louis Alverez and Andy Kolker (2013)

Film Review

This documentary looks at the changing ethnic demographic in post-Katrina New Orleans through the fractious re-election campaign of city councillor Stacey Head. Head is the first white person to represent District B (which is 60% Black) in over thirty years. The 2010 election also led to the election of New Orleans’ first white mayor in 30 years.

The catastrophic flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina (2005) caused a mass exodus of New Orleans’ poorest (mostly Black) residents, as it was mainly their housing that was destroyed. As of 2010, 50,000 of them hadn’t returned, owing to a deliberate decision not to rebuild the low income buildings that housed them. In fact, the most contentious issue in Head’s 2010 campaign was a unanimous city council decision to demolish four low income housing facilities that survived Katrina.

They would be replaced by Columbia Park, a “mixed” income building, that left many low income New Orleans residents with nowhere to live.

The film mainly focuses on the vivacious African American woman who served as Head’s chief of staff and campaign manager. It also examines New Orleans’ longstanding refusal to address pernicious poverty. In doing so, it allows an essentially class issue to manifest through extreme racial tensions, and then papers over those tensions by hosting community-wide parades, festivals and athletic events.

Anyone with a public library card can view this documentary free on Kanopy. Type “Kanopy” and the name of your library into your search engine.

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