Lower Ninth

The experience of driving through the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans yesterday was a sobering one, and many of those in our group were deeply moved. To see what was left of a thriving neighborhood two years after Hurricane Katrina leaves one little hope that this community will ever be reborn again. With their apparent lack of power, and the interests that would like to see the Lower Ninth become an oil refinery or some developer’s tax shelter, these people seem to have few advocates to regain the home they once had.

Ironically, the Sunday Times-Picayune carried a New York Times article titled, “Black women face tough choice in Demo primary.” If you are a member of a privileged class in America, the article makes for interesting reading. The reporter interviewed African American women in a South Carolina beauty parlor on their views toward Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

“I’ve got enough black in me to want somebody black to be our president…but I want to be real, too…I fear that they just would kill him, that he wouldn’t even have a chance,” said Miss Clara, owner of the shop. One way to protect him, she suggested, would be not to vote for him. Black voters have noted that Obama was given Secret Service protection earlier than any presidential candidate except Hillary Clinton, who already had protection as a former president’s wife. After seeing the desolation of the Lower Ninth, and countless other examples in American history when the rights of African Americans have been pummeled into the ground, I can easily imagine why Miss Clara might feel protective of Obama.

One can hope that such fears are unfounded and we can all do more to work to improve our society so that the best candidate is elected to the presidency. After all, as one customer of Carries’ Magic Touch said, she would probably vote for Obama despite her fears for his safety. “Things happened with presidents in the past, and they weren’t African Americans.” Maybe if our nation honored this kind of bravery as much as that displayed on the battle field, then the people of the Lower Ninth and similar communities across the country might have one more small reason for hope in the future