With the trip coming close to an end, I can’t help but look back on my short time here in the lower ninth ward. It strikes me that while some may argue that rebuilding parts of the city that are under sea level is nonsense (go tell the Dutch that as well then), this disaster is not something that is unimaginable for other cities. Because of this, the ability for our nation to pull together and rebuild New Orleans, including the Lower Ninth Ward, is a necessity.
As an Angelino, I am well aware that should the famed “Big One” ever really strike, those people living in densely populated sections of downtown LA- including the homeless- would be at the same risk that many of the now scattered residents of the Lower Ninth Ward were and are. Like Louisiana, my state, and numerous others, have statistics that represent inmates highly skewed when it comes to race AND class. Like Louisiana, we also have the three strike law. And obviously we, in California and in the Los Angeles area, are effected by all of the -isms that effect New Orleans.
One speaker mentioned the difference between “effected,” as in “cause and effect”, and “affected,” referring more to emotions. One thing about this that struck me is that while we are ALL effected by some -ism, I wonder if we are affected by their existence. We should be affected if anyone is effected by any -ism. If this trip has shown me anything it is that when we become jaded to who is in jail, failing in school, or suffering for whatever reason then we leave room for injustice which is seen in New Orleans- but can be replicated anywhere in the country.
But what now? Once I return to Occidental College campus, how can I fight the -isms that are prevalent in New Orleans, Los Angeles, the nation, and on the campus? What does solidarity look like on a campus and for a student?
I will have to rethink these factors as I return to Occidental. However, what I do know is that the work for equality is not done- nor has it even begun. So long as justice is stalled by the color of skin, the gender, the sexuality, the age, the ability, or the amount of money an individual has.
I am so grateful for Mack and The Village for allowing our class to come and help out in his organization and community, even if we had to admit that our impact was not as large as we like to believe. The message and purpose of the Lower Ninth Ward Community Village here in the Lower Ninth Ward is a beacon. A heart that still works to pump blood despite the forces trying to stop it. I urge everyone to look into the Village and it’s work when asking themselves what work is going on in New Orleans.