Read this fascinating, insightful article about the racial politics of New Orleans in the post-Katrina Mitch Landrieu era. It’s a bracing read, and illuminating. I wonder what people who have been around New Orleans longer than I have think. Here’s a taste, but you should really, really read the whole thing.
That lack of economic progress was not only the result of ineffective elected leadership. Even after New Orleans became majority black and African Americans began winning election to high-level positions, the predominantly white business establishment still retained an enormous amount of influence, and did very little to encourage black economic advancement. In addition to backing pliant black politicians (like Ray Nagin pre-Katrina), the traditional white elites continue to exercise control over city affairs through myriad agencies—the Sewerage & Water Board, the Board of Liquidation, the Dock Board—which play a decisive role in the local economy and whose members are not elected but appointed, in some cases by state officials. In the black community, these groups—along with the city’s banking sector, real estate developers, and the secretive, all-white Mardi Gras krewes that dominate the city’s high society—are collectively referred to as the “shadow government.” “To an outsider, that term might sound like conspiratorial hyperbole,” said Lance Hill, a historian who directs the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University. “But in New Orleans, it’s actually a fairly accurate description.”
Seriously, read the whole thing.