ERROL LABORDE

A Message to Visionaries – “Oh Yeah!” • Just about every time I hear planners talk about the redevelopment of the city, inevitably and immediately someone will preach about the need for diversity and affordable housing. Wow, I think to myself what visionaries. In fact many of the city’s neighborhoods, including mine in Mid-City, have had diversity and affordable housing for years. There were no designs to make them that way, they just happened. On the block where I live there are a few resident-owned houses, many rental units, a couple of big Edwardian homes, several shotguns. Though not all the neighbors have returns yet, the mix included the double across the street from me which contained a family from Syria on one side and a Mexican family on the other. Blacks, gays, straights, Wasps and a good ole red neck all share the block.
Not all city blocks are like that, nor could they be. As is true with the rest of the world, the ratio of poor to affluent is so lopsided that there are bound to be some areas that are exclusively poor. And there are neighborhoods where the wealthy, because they are wealthy, pay for extra amenities, including house size that others cannot afford. But across the town, New Orleans has always been more diverse then most American cities. Some say that’s why the city never suffered a major race riot. Local folks of different skin colors were used to living in the same areas,
Diversity is good, but it has become a buzz phrase to the point of obsession. It is more important that we educate our people so that they can having fulfilling careers and maybe even make enough money to one day live in a rich neighborhood if they want to. Teach the kids well, and the neighborhoods will take care of themselves.
Just thinking about New Orleans.

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