Still pick­ing up the pieces

The dev­as­tat­ing floods of the hur­ri­cane that claimed more than 1 800 lives have left scars on a peo­ple who have a long history of suf­fer­ing, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

This an­niver­sary of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina is a cross­roads, a time to de­cide what to run to­wards and what to cast aside for a lighter bur­den. Ten years ago, I was a “refugee” from an Amer­i­can city. The con­se­quence of that la­bel has been a chaos of cir­cum­stances and quick de­ci­sions. The first 10 years were all a scram­ble to re­con­struct one­self. The truth is, I am one of the lucky ones. One of the luck­i­est. I am home. I am sane. I am alive to speak for my­self. I mourn for those lost and strug­gle with the grat­i­tude and guilt of be­ing spared.

Sur­vival is an an­i­mal in­stinct that moves us all to­wards good and bad, and I am do­ing my best with its weight.

In these 10 years, I’ve learnt to use this re­al­i­sa­tion to heat and cool my anx­i­ety, to for­give my­self and pro­pel my body into mo­tion. There is so much about the past 10 years that I would rather for­get, ex­pe­ri­ences I would re­make. But it is not pos­si­ble to go back­wards. There is only what is, and right now the stakes are high. New Or­leans changes for good, a lit­tle bit at a time, ev­ery day. Houses in my neigh­bour­hood flip at some­times three times their pre-Ka­t­rina “worth”.

For white fam­i­lies in the new New Or­leans, the me­dian in­come has grown at triple the rate of black fam­i­lies’ in­come. It’s no won­der many are in­sis­tent that New Or­leans is back and bet­ter than ever. There are roughly 100 000 fewer black peo­ple in the metro area. Old peo­ple out; new peo­ple in.

It is crit­i­cal not to cede the story at its cross­roads. A syn­cretic her­itage

Raised black in New Or­leans and hav­ing made it to this side of these 10 years, I re­mem­ber that with liv­ing comes the sa­cred re­spon­si­bil­ity of re­call­ing. New Or­leans has al­ways been a place of many peo­ples.

The in­dige­nous Chata (Choctaw) peo­ple named the city Bul­ban­cha, mean­ing Many Lan­guages Spo­ken

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.