Monday, January 08, 2007

Violence in New Orleans

posted by Mr. Vidiot @ 6:35 PM Permalink

The murders in New Orleans has historical origins. New Orleans has always been territorially divided. The city, during colonial times, was divided among the French, American and Spanish rule. Canal Street was the neutral ground between the French and American parts of New Orleans. North of Canal Street is considered uptown, and South is downtown. (Part of Canal Street is the Northern boundary of the French Quarter.) Oftentimes there were conflicts between the French and the Americans. Of course, African slaves were also part of the population of the Louisiana. Native Americans largely fled into the surrounding swamps and bayous when the white man arrived. The Africans inherited the warring mentality and territorial conflicts of the the white Europeans and Americans. Further, many Africans, to escape slavery, fled to areas outside the city and were taken in by different Native American tribes. Many adopted Indian culture, but returned to their roots in New Orleans, holding on to Indian culture, while maintaining an African identity, while all at the same time, adopting American culture. These different tribes of the Black Mardi Gras Indians often came into warring conflicts, based on the districts or wards in which the lived. They often met and ceremoniously conducted battle for status and pride, representing their particular district of the city. The bloody sociospacial conflicts that began with Europeans and Americans, adopted by Native Americans and Africans, was passed down to future generations of the African American community.

Today there is great hostility between different groups of young black men based on what part of the city the come from. Even in high schools, students designate school hallways in order to represent the ward in which they live. For example, students who are residents of the 7th Ward, should never enter into a 9th Ward hallway. Although there are many variables to account for New Orleans being arguably the murder capitol of the country, territory and sociospacial reasons are part of the equation. However, the fallacy of our social system is to pathologise young, black men instead of looking at the social system that produces a group of people dispossessed and marginalized.

In one aspect, one can equate the politics of the street with the politics of the corporation. A corporation, in this stage of liquid capitalism, must use cutthroat tactics, political maneuvering and survival skills in order to profit and advance. Corporations know they must out produce competition in order to survive. This same ethic, so important to the global spread of capitalism, has been adopted by a large portion of our young black men and women, albeit on a micro scale. Many of these young black men, knowing that they are excluded and denied political, social and economic capital understand very well the disadvantages that lay before them. Many excluded young black men acquire the same corporate mentality and use it on the streets to survive.


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