Keeping Blacks Out of St. Bernard

I have to say something about this craziness. I will tell the story of racist housing policy in St. Bernard Parish, LA below, and hope to follow up down the line, as the story develops. What follows would be hilarious if it weren’t so… nefarious.

St. Bernard Parish is located to the south of New Orleans. Whereas New Orleans is 67% black, St. Bernard Parish just a few miles away is only 7.6% black.

Hurricane Katrina severely damaged both St. Bernard Parish and Orleans Parish (whose boundaries are identical with New Orleans city). In St. Bernard, nearly all of the housing where black and low-income renters lived was destroyed, eliminating much of the already tiny black population.

Now, the white residents of St. Bernard are fighting an all-out battle to prevent blacks from returning or migrating over from New Orleans, where there is also an affordable-housing shortage. The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, which has been fighting against racist housing policies, has a detailed timeline of the battle.

Craig TaffaroIt officially started when Craig Taffaro Jr. (pictured), president of the St. Bernard Parish Council, introduced the infamous blood-relative ordinance, which states that property owners can only rent to their blood relatives. The ordinance passed in 2006. Before the storm, whites owned 93% of the housing stock. (reference) We can see pretty easily the effects of such an ordinance.

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) sued the Parish for racially discriminatory housing practices and won. The Parish settled, and then enacted an ordinance banning multi-family housing, i.e. most rental housing, affordable housing and most forms of public housing.

The same judge, U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who is apparently awesome, found St. Bernard to be in contempt of court and ordered that the ban be repealed, as it also violated the Fair Housing Act. She also ordered St. Bernard to pay fees, costs and damages to GNOFHAC.   So the Parish went ahead and repealed the ban, simply switching it for a year-long moratorium on multi-family building.

Provident Realty Advisors then applied to the Parish to build affordable housing projects. After a public hearing rife with racist statements both implied and open, their application was denied. After GNOFHAC took the Parish to court again, Judge Berrigan found them in contempt of the court order and hit them with more fines. She also had this to say:

Based on the factual record and judged under a clear preponderance of the evidence, the Court finds that defendants’ conduct since March 25, 2009, by subverting the re-subdivision process, has a discriminatory effect on African-Americans and therefore violates the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3604(a), and the terms of the February 2008 Consent Order.

Does St. Bernard Parish get it yet?

DUH, of course not. As a matter of fact, the Parish Council is seeking a ballot referendum that would force any developer seeking to build a development with more than 12 units to have their plans approved by a public referendum, which the developer would also have to pay for. How soon will this be voted on?  “In order to get the measure on a Nov. 14 ballot, the parish would have to pass the ordinance and get approval from the state Bond Commission and the secretary of state’s office before Sept. 29.”

Ginger BerriganMeanwhile, Judge Berrigan is fed up with St. Bernard’s delays in approving Provident’s development application and has granted a THIRD motion of contempt against them just last Friday, saying:

Defendants are hereby enjoined from interfering or withholding approval of Provident’s re-subdivision applications. Provident’s re-subdivision applications are deemed approved.

…If the defendants fail to meet any of the various deadlines without advance notice and good cause shown for their failure, a daily sanction beginning at $5,000 for the first day, and increasing to $10,000 each day thereafter per each individual missed deadline will be imposed.

New Orleans, Louisiana, this 11th day of September, 2009.

Booyah St. Bernard Parish Council and racist inhabitants.

This story is developing. So is my analysis. More to come.

Learn more:

From GNOFHAC: Timeline of the Lawsuit

The Root: Keeping St. Bernard Parish White

Facing South: Fight heats up over discriminatory housing laws in New Orleans area

Read the coverage at the Times-Picayune, starting here: St. Bernard Parish Council housing plan drawing fire

Scathing Times-Picayune Op-ed: Housing bias in St. Bernard Parish is proving costly in the long run

Scathing Times-Picayune Editorial: Legally and Morally Wrong

You can donate to the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center here.

And you can respectfully and without making inappropriate threats contact the St. Bernard Parish Government here to let them know how you feel about this situation.

Cross-posted at Womanist Musings.


65 thoughts on “Keeping Blacks Out of St. Bernard

  1. Pingback: Welcome to your post-racial society: someone should send St. Bernard Parish the memo « Techne/nous

  2. I appreciate the support ya’ll. I’m still fuming. I’m still waiting for more coverage.

    I appreciate Techne/nous posting. One step in the right direction!

  3. Pingback: Looks Like Housing Is Going to Shit Everywhere « The Czech

  4. Letters to the Editor: Rental foes speak from experience

    By Letters to the Editor

    September 24, 2009, 5:38PM

    Re: “Bias is proving costly in the long run, ” Other Opinions, Sept. 13.

    I lived in St. Bernard Parish for more 50 years pre-Katrina. While living in our last home for nearly 40 years I witnessed the gradual deterioration of the once lovely Village Square apartment complex, just two blocks away.

    The majority of original residents were law-abiding, hard-working citizens. However, upon the federal government’s gradually subsidizing the rent on these apartments, I watched it slowly become a cesspool of crime, filth, drugs, murder and prostitution. It became such a dangerous place to live that law-abiding and hard-working tenants chose to look for other lodging elsewhere, fearing for their very lives.

    Now, post-Katrina, when St. Bernard officials are trying to prevent a repeat of the Village Square debacle, the officials and the citizens of St. Bernard Parish are being branded as racists and bigots. How dare you?

    The good people of St. Bernard Parish are trying to preserve their quality of life, nothing more — nothing less. If the federal government feels compelled to subsidize rents, why not scatter the tenant families among the many vacant single-family dwellings currently available for rent, rather than place them in high-density buildings — i.e., projects?

    Judge Berrigan is allowing her ideology to trump reality. Plain and simple, it is a quality of life issue.

    Marilyn Schott

  5. @Sandra

    I don’t understand why you chose to repost a letter making all the same racial dog whistles I debunked in my post.

    Apparently you condone the writer’s opinion of poor people in St. Bernard as free-loading, dirty criminals. Who also (in Village Square) tots randomly happen to be mostly POC.

    Time to take out our Racism Bingo!

    Let’s see… Not Really a Racist, Class Issue, Lazy/Criminal Stereotype, Just a Coincidence That It Looks Like Racism… damn, not enough to be a bingo this time.

    Also, what THE HELL is this: “law-abiding and hard-working tenants chose to look for other lodging elsewhere, fearing for their very lives.” !?!?

    I live in a neighborhood where public housing units FAR outnumber non-subsidized housing. When I ask the white people whom I hear calling it a “dangerous neighborhood” what they mean exactly, they can’t quite tell me. All they can say is that the residents sure are poor, and they sure are black. Nudge nudge. Wink wink. My neighbors are racially diverse, universally poor, friendly, family-oriented, accepting, love community events, and yes, even hard-working. So why the whites hating? It’s Not Racism(tm)!

    Should I actually be fearing for my life? I’ll start being more afraid of my neighbors.

  6. “Hurricane Katrina severely damaged both St. Bernard Parish and Orleans Parish (whose boundaries are identical with New Orleans city). In St. Bernard, nearly all of the housing where black and low-income renters lived was destroyed, eliminating much of the already tiny black population.” This a quote above would be funny, if not so ridiculous. Are you guys aware that ALL RESIDENTS – BLACK, WHITE, RED, YELLOW, RICH, MIDDLE-CLASS, POOR, LOW-INCOME RENTERS AND HOMEOWNERS had their lives/homes/possessions, etc. destroyed? Just as in Lakeview in New Orleans, flash, not just the Lower Nine was destroyed. To listen to you bleeding hearts, one would think Katrina touched down, picking and choosing only the poor, black, and disenfranchised. You guys cannot see the forest for the trees. How sad that all you have is to scream “Racism, racism, racism”. Find a new mantra, please!

  7. @Antoinette

    Your tone is very disrespectful. Please, if you want to comment, do so in good faith.

    This blog is a place where poor people and POC should be able to feel safe and respected. Your violates my intent.

    Who is this “you bleeding hearts” and “you guys” you speak of? I wrote this piece by myself, and it contains my opinions alone. The way you stereotype me makes me wonder if your “It’s Not Racism(tm)!” argument is also based on stereotypes. I will keep calling racism racism, and I won’t apologize if that makes you uncomfortable.

    My point is not that only blacks and poor people had their housing destroyed by Katrina. My point is that as usual, the poor always get hit the hardest. Renters and public housing residents don’t get federal money to rebuild their homes like homeowners do. And when public housing is destroyed and not rebuilt, this specifically affects the poor, and in this case many of the poor are black.

    Aren’t you aware that the percentage of whites in NOLA increased significantly after the storm?

  8. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, IT’S A DUCK. DUH!! You must be totally bored in your life to expend so much energy on this nonsense. Get a life. Get over it. Get happy. Get whatever. I’m bored with the subject already.

  9. P.S. You really, really need to spend some time in OUR (New Orleans) Public Housing – specifically, The Iberville Projects. You wouldn’t last ONE DAY with your naive ideology – if you tried to come across as being a “friend” to any of the residents, you would be shot on sight, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT BLACK (I’m presuming you’re not black – I don’t know for sure). You MUST live under a rock. New Orleans has THE WORST CRIME IN THE USA. Even black people complain about it being predominantly black on black crime. We don’t point fingers just to point them. We base our statements on fact AND EXPERIENCE.


    BTW, I was one poor and NEVER ASKED FOR A HANDOUT FROM MY GOVT, yet I had the strength and fortitude to forge ahead, work my way up the employment ladder, buy myself a house after struggling for 20 yrs. – and not my adult son is in the same boat as me – the difference is – I DIDN’T TEACH HIM TO LIVE OFF THE SYSTEM.

    GET – A – LIFE – AND – LEAVE – US – ALONE.


  11. <>

    In St Bernard Parish, ALL housing was destroyed.

    THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN ST BERNARD PARISH. There is a glut of such housing, both apartments and single family dwellings. As mentioned in public hearings, individual neighborhoods would embrace single family dwelling occupants and could help such families relocate to St Bernard, adjust to new schools, etc. We cannot however help 288 needy families crammed together in inadequate apartments, slated to be constructed on lower lying flood prone areas — that is why the land is undeveloped now — it floods with rain fall. As, the apartments are not near the job base in New Orleans and there is inadequate transportation for these future residents.

    The apartment developments do not meet the needs of the target population. The developer from Dallas, Texas is taking advantage of free money for his own economic gain.

    In New Orleans, the Lakeview Homeowners Association are marketing State owned property (purchased with Federal Grant monies) with such stipulations as home construction within 12 months and the owner or an immediate family member must live in the home once it is complete. Check out the racial stats for Lakeview.

    In New Orleans East, affordable housing draws opposition from a gated community. Check out the racial stats for those opposing these projects.

    The ballot referendum was ‘introduced’ as stated in the article [12 unit developments would require their own public referendum], however, some where along the way, it was amended for a vote or referendum to disallow all 6 units or larger developments. It has been difficult to locate this amendment………………………………..

  12. Wow, I don’t know why I feel so inclined to feed the trolls today. I “must be totally bored in [my] life to expend so much energy on this nonsense”.

    Just as a note, someone posted my web address on a Times-Picayune message board encouraging others to assist them in shutting down my website.

    This is unacceptable. Sandra, I hope this wasn’t you. Your comments have grown progressively rabid, inflammatory, and hateful. So regardless it was you publicly advocating the shuttering of my blog because you disagree with my opinions or not, you are banned.

    It may interest you to know that there are white Tulane students helping Iberville residents organize to stop the demolition of their housing. Blacks are not such animals that they shoot people of other races on sight.

    The deep racism pervading your comments is frightening and sad. The fact that you couple it with an implied threat “AND IF YOU WALKED OUR STREETS MAKING YOUR COMMENTS …” is completely unhinged.

    I lived near New Orleans during part of my childhood, have visited it often since then, and currently have friends living in and around public housing there. But that’s not the only reason why I am interested in housing discrimination in the area. My interest stems from my values. I believe in kindness to the poor, and in racial justice. This means I want to shine the light of day on the dirty business in St. Bernard Parish.

    @recovery citizen
    You really expect me to believe that the reason you oppose housing affordable to the poor and to poor blacks specifically is that you are deeply concerned it won’t be high enough quality for them?

  13. Pingback: An Attempt to Shut Down The Czech « The Czech

  14. Keep doing what you do! Fighting hate and injustice isn’t always easy, but is most definitely necessary.

    I am not sure how assumptions that individuals who are not middle to upper class and white (you know, people who are “others”) are automatically going to destroy ‘the quality of life’ and are simply filthy criminals helps anyone. It is a shame that some people only care about themselves and those who fall into their group. Discrimination against already historically oppressed groups only serves to continue the cycle.

    It is great and admirable that you are so bored as to waste time on this issue. If that is how it works, then I wish more people were bored! Just because a person is not from an area or has not lived there for awhile does not mean they should turn a blind eye. Instead, highlighting the issue (especially when it seems that certain voices may not be getting a chance to be heard) is a wonderful way to let others research it, get engaged, and be as involved as they can be.

    Interesting that you suggested people send respective messages about this issue and yet some individuals seem unable to do the same in return. Implied verbal and physical threats are not useful in this conversation.

    Anyway, stay strong and passionate, keep informed, and continue your much needed work!

  15. For the love of God. IF you don’t want to be called a racist, then stop saying racist shit. All of you coming here to defend yourselves or try to prove that your racism is justified are only embarrassing yourselves. Really guys, don’t you have better things to do?

  16. sorry – i meant “respectful” instead of “respective”! thats that happens when i get too riled up and type fast.

  17. I have yet to see any of these defenders of this rich fat cat developer who purchased cheap land in an precarious area question why those handing over the grant don’t demand better. Yeah, it’s great to slap low income people in an area that will require them to fork out money for a possible evacuation every year with no further thought about what is going to happen to them in a Katrina part II situation. I think it’s real nice that this developer, judge, activist group and blogger who apparently have these low income people’s best interests at heart feel that slapping a large number of low income tenants in a disaster area with no library, emergency room, hospital, or economic base for support services is appropriate. I guess they don’t feel that these people deserve any better.

    This developer isn’t doing poor people any favors. He is a typical slum lord with a kindly Robin Hood facade. He has purchased land in a defunct struggling area, will use public funds via a government grant to build the things as cheaply as possible, and will walk away. He won’t care that there is no funding for the extra boost these people will need in support services. He won’t care when there is a cat 5 heading in and these people are needing help to evacauate. He won’t care when one of them gets hurt and they have to travel an hour across town in a car because they can’t afford to pay for the ambulance. The only thing this guy will be doing is laughing that he won another battle, and counting his money.

    Once these low income units are built the judge, developer, grant guy, and this blogger will walk away. They will be counting the money they have made on back door deals, slapping each other on the back for winning a war with the so called “white racists” in St. Bernard, and move on to what ever will further their own personal adgendas.

    Honestly if any of these people who have gotten in on the race card gravy train were not racists themselves they would not just assume that these tenents are going to be all black. There are plenty of low income whites and newbie Latinos in St. Bernard, apparently if we are to believe these people only black people are low income. I find it interesting that no one has gotten the opinions of the black homeowners of St. Bernard on this. Then again why should they count? Is this is a white only complaint? I’ll let you know that it is not, but if that got out it would take some wind out of a few sails.

    Keep complaining blogger, when the sheet hits the fan for Katrina part II we know who will back these people, pulling them off of roofs, putting them on borrowed boats, and sending them off to safety, and it won’t be you, the judge, the activists, or the developer. None of y’all showed up last time; we saved ourselves. We’ll do it again and all of you can congratulate yourselves as we pull these people, who should have gotten better for the tax money paid into this money making venture, off of roofs.

  18. I have been a resident of St. Bernard Parish for 23 years, and have owened rental property for 7 years. I have had trouble with my rental since katrina and wish everyday that I would have just had it demolished. I do not want these apartments built in the parish because I dont want to make things harder on myself or anyone else in my situation. Rental property in the parish is over saturated, this is no myth it is true. I tell you this because I am BLACK, and racism has nothing to do with mine not wanting these apartments built in the parish. I have close friends of all race’s in my neighborhood and have never had a problem with racism.

  19. Jude: “Once these low income units are built the judge, developer, grant guy, and this blogger will walk away. They will be counting the money they have made on back door deals, slapping each other on the back for winning a war with the so called “white racists” in St. Bernard, and move on to what ever will further their own personal adgendas.”

    OMG, I didn’t realize I was making money in this! Hallelujah, I’m going to be rich. Now… how do I get this money?

  20. Hon, I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a few dollars out of this; sleazy big business developers will stoop to any low, including paying off bloggers.
    Just keep patting yourself on the back, when it comes time to walk the walk when 72 units times 4 buildings of low income people are needing help, you just keep patting yourself on the back while we are pulling bodies out of apartments. If you actually had a shread of decency, you would be wondering why this grant money isn’t going to put these people in a better situation. Just keep patting away kiddo.

  21. @Jude
    Do not use patronizing language with me. “Hon” and “kiddo” are not acceptable.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if you got a few dollars out of this”

    I’ll just sit back and wait for the dollars to roll in! You know, I’m only in the social justice biz for the $$$. I made my first million off of human rights, ya know.

    All this back-patting is tiring my hand. Once my checks arrive from this mysterious source that pays bloggers to oppose racism, I will hire a professional back-patter to do the back patting for me.

  22. “Hon”, is just a part of Yat. Yat is how we speak. It is not meant to be patronizing. See, that’s it in a nut shell. You don’t know St. Bernard, you don’t care about St. Bernard, you don’t really care about racism. You care about your agenda, being right and getting in the last knock. I’m book marking this blog because when Katrina part II happens, I want to lay this at your feet. I will be ready to call you a hypoctite if you knock response, rescue, or the federal government. You will have no reason to complain, you know it’s going to happen again and you will have advocated for the endangerment of these people all in the name of being an advocate for big business.

    You have been warned that this is not a good place at this time, that this place received no outside help for 8 days, and that people will be endangered and die due to not having the income to get out. You have yet to address why this area is would be optimal for a large volume of low income people. For you it’s principle and walk away, not real life, not real people. You have nothing to lose; it’s just that simple. It’s not your life or your family that will be on that roof. It’s not you in that car praying to make it to the hospital across town before your mother dies from the stroke. It’s not your kid that will be playing in abandoned rotting houses and over grown lots. All these lovely things because it was the cheapest land for Mr. Rich Developer to plop these units down on. All because no one cared to say, “hey, wait a minute this isn’t right.” It’s one thing to choose to be in this situation, but low income people have few choices, so I guess you advocate for the worst situation instead of the best.

    Like I said if you had any common decency you would be demanding that this developer place these apartments in a place where there is a hospital, services, and a tax base that could provide needed services. This blog isn’t about what’s best, or the right thing to do, it’s about jumping into a fight that you know little to nothing about and sadly people are going to pay for it with their lives. It’s too bad you don’t get it, but then you are probably being paid not to. I’m done, you have not addressed any safety or humanitarian concerns these people will face. You have only complained about your personal feelings being hurt over the words, “hon and kiddo” while claiming to fight racisim at the expense of those very people in question. I will be setting the names of those very people here on your blog when we have another big one and they are dead and gone. I will lay them out in print and remind you that instead of fighting for big business men you should have been fighting for them. Have a nice day.

  23. In My Honest Opinion, The only racist people are the people screaming it. I have no problem with helping the poor. I am one. I have no problem with helping the unfortunate. My problem I have is, ( I have many friends who fit the situation and have heard from their mouths about the misuse of government help) Notice no mention of race. and I won’t, Race isn’t an issue it is a label. if you were born in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, then you are an AMERICAN. That is it. why must we check off what color our skin is. why is that important. I think instead of fighting the apartment complexes that are going to be built weather we like it or not. I think we all should use our energy to fight the government to bann that question from everything. It should not matter. Heratige does not make a person. (my great great grand parents I did not know and the same for most, they had no direct effect on my upraising. there fore the fact that I have to check of what color of my skin may be should not factor in to any type of application. ) Don’t you realize the Government created this way of life for us. They started the race issues. It is mainly on government applications that they want to know your race. why that. I know why it is on applications for jobs. this is so the company can qualify for credits with the government for certain tax breaks for employing certain employees, just like they ask you about receiving anytype of welfare/foodstamps. It is the government. Like I said in the beginning this is my HONEST OPINION, my mom always told me opinions are like @$$holes, everyone has one.
    Peace out, and may the president’s reign make a turn for the greater good of the people of the UNITED STATES, and not for his own personal gratification of I am President therefore I CAN.

  24. @Jude
    You don’t know where I’m from. I spent part of my childhood in a small community not far from New Orleans. Patronizing language is patronizing language and you know it.

    So now I’m making the big bucks and murdering people just by exposing the racism in St. Bernard Parish? I guess we all should just shut our mouths and continue to let whites make blacks live in misery. Because if we speak up, we’re killers!

    As I said to recovery citizen above: You really expect me to believe that the reason you oppose housing affordable to the poor and to poor blacks specifically is that you are deeply concerned it won’t be high enough quality for them?

  25. Newsflash, indie bloggers are usually unpaid, so The Czech is making nothing on this and is spending energy even listening to you jerks.

    And y’all would rather come here and defend yourselves against accusations made by an anonymous blogger, accuse said blogger of all sorts of things (like arrogance, naivete, stupidity, ignorance) that you are displaying yourself, and throw little temper tantrums that someone you will never meet “insulted” you as if anonymous calling out of racism is worse than BEING COMPLICIT IN A RACIST SYSTEM. For real, if you put this much energy into trying to improve the lot of ALL PEOPLE, then you wouldn’t have a thing to worry about. Instead, you act like somehow you have the right to stomp all over the place and pitch a fit.

    If the developers are scum that are going to be bad for the low income community (and if said community is disproportionately people of color, that is not a coincidence. it is the result of hundreds of years of, you guessed it, RACISM) then why are you justifying their actions?

    Lordy, we are in need of a massive intrarectocraniotomy up in here!

  26. To Jeremy – hopefully the bloggers didn’t purposefully ignore your comment here. Will someone please ccomment on Jeremy’s entry? He is in a direct situation to give validity to the objection of the apartments. Black property owners, as well as White, Hispanic, and Asian, in the Parish who rent their property will be out of business, making the rich richer, and the poor poorer, and the middle-class continually struggle. Anyone?

  27. @lsder
    It is illegal to ask for race on a job application. You speak nonsense. No one gets tax credits for hiring black people.

    The reason why the government keeps track of demographics, and why researchers look at demographics, is to uncover racism, which they frequently do. I have a feeling that you know this. The reason why you want us all to ignore race is so that no one can prove white racism against people of color.

    The government didn’t create race. White colonizers did in order to create a racial hierarchy with themselves at the top. Here’s research on the topic.

    Ooh, I like the clever rhetorical trick of calling me the racist for bringing up racism! Why do people arguing for the racial status quo always use the same arguments?

  28. @Power to the Peeps:
    What is there to say about Jeremy’s post? I’ve already said that public housing is for the people who can’t afford apartments on the private market. That’s the point of public housing. That should have been obvious anyway. So Jeremy’s whining doesn’t really make sense or deserve comment.

  29. Hav – your mean comment that Jeremy is whining is uncalled for. You are obviously a miserable hater who is only interested in dogging anyone that doesn’t agree with you. Don’t bother posting or commenting, if you wish. Interacting on your blog is a waste of time. Buh-bye!

  30. answer two questions for me, who sold the black people into slavery(not who purchased slaves)

    who freed the slaves?

    If back then when the government was deciding what to do with all of the slaves that were purchased from tribe leaders in Africa, decided to ship them all back to the mother land, where would the black race be, if the United States of America government(predominantly white then) didn’t step up and see that these slaves were being mistreated what would have happened, didn’t we go through this with the civil war. The thing of it all is the fact that people like you like to keep the race issue alive. Michael Jackson was so right “And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
    If You Want to Make The World A Better Place ,Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change .” I interpret that to mean that if you want racism to stop you need to look no further that the nose on your face. I don’t hate anyone. I have white, black, vietnamese, chinese, mexican, jewish, catholic, baptist, methodist, etc………. from various backgrounds, why am I the racist one, because of my skin color, because I live in St Bernard, Louisiana. Oh well I’ve been called worse, those that know me know me , I am me plain SIMPLE.

  31. Please..I’m am sooo sick of the same racial crap. I know those figures of african americans in St Bernard Parish CAN NOT be correct. I have lived here my entire life and it discusses me when the comment about Hurricane Katrina only effective african americans living in St Bernard Parsh. It did not discriminate. It hit every person rich/poor black/white blue/purple green/pink. I had to make a mortgage to get in to our house, and I work very hard to keep it every month. Provident is trying to make a name for themselves. The people of St. Bernard are paying the price.

  32. Havlova

    I want to know why you are singling out St. Bernard? They wanted to build projects in New Orleans, but the blacks of New Orleans didn’t want what the projects because they bring…..crime. Same thing in New Orleans East and Lakeview. Why aren’t you down their throats? Why doesn’t go to the lower 9th ward and use all of the open space there to build his low income projects? That is where they are needed.

    For all of the ugly things you are saying about the people of St. Bernard you have nerve slapping someone down for calling you “Hon and kiddo” Who do you think you are? You’re saying what you want. I am so sick of the race card always being played. What is funny it is the blacks who are always using it. The Blacks are their worse enemy. Look at the stats, who does the killings….blacks, who screams about race……blacks. Turn on the TV an the first thing you hear is about the murder or murders of someone……who is the suspect……..a black person.

    Hon you are talking to the wrong race. You need to be talking to your race and you also need to stop twisting what the people are saying. You are a fool and need to stay out of our business. I wonder how the developer would feel if projects were built in his backyard? Better yet how would you like projects by you…..Hon?

  33. Figures – Czech didn’t want to hear what I had to say simply because I asked he/she/it to do a little research about St. Bernard. Nothing bad was said just proving that he/she/it had done no research to back up the claims. Pretty sure this one won’t be posted either. All you little minions following this blog are nothing more than that!

  34. justleave: I didn’t post your derailing comment about how awesome jude was and some off topic stuff. I have carefully researched St. Bernard Parish as soon as I learned of the housing discrimination. I learned that it has a long history of white racism against blacks.

    Your insults to me, my gender, and my readers gets you banned. Insults do not count as respectful debate.

    @power to the peeps: You call me “mean” and then proceed to call me a bunch of names. You have no interest in discussing racism, you just want anyone who shines light on racism to shut up. You are banned.

    You make weird racist insinuations to start your comment, and then talk about how you are colorblind. Then insinuate oh so cleverly that I’m the racist one, and then reaffirm that there is no way you could ever harbor a racist thought.

    All in defense of keeping black people out of St. Bernard Parish.

    Why do these kind of commentors come to a blog about social justice to threaten me, insult me, and display their bigotry for the world to see? Can’t anyone read the comment policy?

    Let’s take out the Racism Bingo card!

    Let’s see, we’ve got: colorblind, i’ve got black friends, better off here than in africa, i’m not a racist, victim of reverse discrimination, just a coincidence that it looks like racism. Damn, too scattered for a bingo.

  35. @meadownsums
    Read the comments before you post. Or read the post before you post. We’ve already covered that ground.

    I haven’t called anyone names on this blog. I have pointed out racism where it exists, like in your despicable post. You deliberately call me a name I asked not to be called. Then you write some of the most racist stuff I’ve heard in a long time. You are banned.

    FYI: I live in a neighborhood that is majority public housing. Public housing outnumbers non-public apartments 10:1. I love my neighborhood. I like public housing just fine.

    PS. I don’t know what you mean by “your race”. Do you think I’m white or black? I guess we’ll never know, since you are banned.

    PPS. I’m not staying out of the business of St. Bernard Parish so long as this kind of BS is going on. I’m going to be right there with you, incident by incident, following along and speaking my mind.

  36. Isder:
    How does this in any way relate to my post? Why ask me questions when it is clear you already know your answers?

    White people looking for human slaves made it lucrative from some Africans almost as low as the white slavers to sell other Africans into slavery. No one has ever forced a white person to buy a slave. Your point?

    Who brought slaves to America? Who kept slaves as chattel in America? Who fought and died for the “right” to have slaves? Who raped slaves? Who murdered slaves?

    You see, I can play that game to.

    But I have a point to make. And that is that you are sick if you think it is black people’s fault that their forefathers were slaves, and it is sick if you think black people aren’t responsible for their own freedom. Without their own resistance they would never be free.

    I literally feel ill to my stomach that this is how some whites in St. Bernard Parish respond to racism in their midst. Playing these little games, hurling insults, trying to shut my voice. Calling me an “it”. But you all just are so concerned that the public housing won’t be high enough quality for the low-income blacks, and for that reason only you oppose it.

    If you are proud of your racism, why are you so angry at me for noticing it? I’ll make that a new post.

  37. Pingback: If You Are So Proud of Your Racism, Why Do You Get Mad When People Call You A Racist? « The Czech

  38. I apologize for straying from the original topic of this post, but I’d just like to quickly address something. I am seeing a pattern of some notion that blacks are somehow just criminals and thus ‘their own worst enemy’. Who is in control of most major media outlets? Who has the police force historically consisted of? What kinds of behaviors are considered criminal and receive the most attention? Critical thinking is a great tool.

    The Czech – I enjoy your posts and am glad to see someone who truly cares about social justice issues. I also admire your ability to respectfully and thoughtfully respond without having to reduce the discussion to name calling and threats. Keep up the good work.

  39. Main Entry: rac·ism
    Pronunciation: \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1933
    1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
    2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

    — rac·ist \-sist also -shist\ noun or adjective

    So let me get this straight, only people considered/look white are considered racist. ^^^^^^ that definiton does not describe me. I am not a racist. There is good and bad in everyone. I didn’t get off topic. I am tired of being labeled a racist b/c I live in St. Bernard Parish, b/c I am predomionatly white. The good people of St bernard have experienced what happens when you bring in low in come housing, not mixed income housing, but low income housing. I personally worked for a property management company, that owned 180 properties through out louisiana and texas, I worked in the main office authorizing workorders for repairs to be done. I also did all the write up for violations. I didn’t see what color thier skin was, I do not know any of the tenants, so you cannot say I am racist. I know first hand how these apartment complexes are run, I don’t want them in my Parish. If you want to label me then label me against low income housing, I would qualify for rental assistance but would rather not bring up my children like that. matter of fact, after Katrina the Maintenance Supervisor for the south east division learned first hand what it was like to live in the apartment complex in westwego, he didn’t last long. once the tennants found out who he was, they were complaining as soon as his feet hit the ground to come home from work. The management team don’t care about the people living there. all they care about is the mighty dollar. They care about how can I make more money off of these people, to make my self richer. I know I was there, I saw how they charges for example, when a tenant broke lets say a mini blind, that cost (my former employer) 5 bucks to replace, they charged the tenant 15 dollars to replace it. I know I would write up the violations.

    My number one reason to responding to your blog is to let you know, everyone in St Bernard Louisiana is not racist. The SHOE DOES NOT FIT THERE FORE I WILL NOT BE PUTTING IT ON .

    I gave you the main reason we as a parish are against the housing developement and not one time did i mention race. so how am I or better yet how are we considered racist.

  40. Well that last comment is quite reasonable lsder. If all of your comments had been of that nature I would be inclined to see your point of view.

    However, directly prior to that post you made two posts with disgusting implications about black people. This blog is public. Anyone can read those comments, and you still chose to write them. You felt comfortable writing that way publicly, and now there is a record of it. I think those statements reveal much about how you feel towards blacks.

  41. This writer is an idiot and should stay out of our business. The water didn’t go around the white people’s houses; everyone was flooded. Three houses in the entire parish weren’t flooded. We are all struggling to come back. The parish’s entire population is 50% of what it was pre-Katrina(black and white).

    As far stopping the black from Orleans from moving in 2/3 of my renters are from Orleans, and they are black. Everyone’s cash spends the same.

    I have to admit, the blood relative thing was stupid.

    My house has dropped 20% in value since the house across the street became a rental.

    We get it. Why don’t you? 1. Our property values will drop even more. 2. 38% of my rentals have already been empty for 4-6 months. I’m offer $600 rent compared to Orleans $1100 for the same size place. Tell me that’s not affordable. 3. If the water pressure gets any lower, I won’t get any water in lower St. Bernard. 4. I don’t want my utilities to go up for the projects installation. 5. Look at projects throughout the country. They are all crime infested.

    These are the real facts. We’re not racist. We’re REALIST.

    [Editor’s note: This author sent me a second email containing abuse because she failed to read the commenting policy that explains this blog is moderated. The second email has been deleted.]

  42. Wow, all these wasted words and time on this, the bottom line is when the blacks moved to village square it ruined st bernard parish there is statistical proof of it. MORE CRIME than it ever started, murder, rape, drugs, prostitution, break ins, little tiny kids standing in busy streets with only a diaper on. I saw this with my own eyes as I have lived in st. bernard since 1956. KEEP TRYING CRAIG!!!! GOD BLESS YOU!!

  43. to answer your question, blacks sold their own people into slavery. They were not smart enough to get out of it until a white man freed them.

  44. @Parish Girl: Read the whole post and whole thread. Your issues were already addressed. Because of the inappropriate second email, you are banned.

    Both George and Gregory’s comments egregiously violate this blogs comment policy, and no further comments from them will be allowed. However, in this instance I chose to allow them to appear so that readers have a taste of the naked racism among some of the whites in St. Bernard. I say some because I pray to whatever higher being that there are whites in St. Bernard who are anti-racist. None of them have shown up on this blog talking about their solidarity actions with poor blacks, however.

    Why can’t white in St. Bernard Parish obey my simple comment policy?

  45. People can say what they want and do what they want.

    I have lived in St Bernard Parish my entire life. Prior to Katrina there was a low-income community known as Village Square. Over time this community had its share of problems ranging from drugs, robberies, prostitution, etc.

    Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. And Hurricane Katrina destroyed all of St Bernard Parish. There was not anything that untouched. With that being said African -Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese, Filipino, etc were affected by the storm.

    St Bernard parish is coming back.

    But I ask you this :

    If you had a community that you lived in that was destroyed and you had a chance to rebuild it and make it better for the future. Would you ? Or would you want to have the same issues that caused problems before the hurricane ? Drugs, Robberies, Prostitution, etc.

    And I am not NOT talking about race or what not. I am talking about Low-Income housing that people are on welfare and expect to get everything for free. That is not right I work hard for my money and I expect everyone else to do the same.

    Think about it.

    Would you want this in YOUR community ?

    People on Welfare expecting a hand out
    People doing drugs.

    I am sorry I would not want young children to be exposed to that.
    And yes it is enviable but we have a chance to rebuild our community to make it the BEST

    People are dogging St Bernard saying how they are racist and what not. But it may not be racist. Look at the whole situation. I for one stated it has nothing to do with race. It has to do with everything else I have stated above.

  46. How exactly does not allowing certain individuals into a community who you view as being essentially criminals and low-lifes help anyone? So they are left to do what? Continue this cycle of oppression? So the historically privileged get to enjoy the resources they have always enjoyed while its just too bad for others? Being oppressed throughout history and wanting to no longer be oppressed doesn’t exactly equal ‘expecting handouts’. How will things ever change if people refuse to critically look at their social position and privilege and how other people are affected? The ‘I’ve got mine, so screw you’ mentality is a sad one to have. Additionally, the idea that certain people are somehow inherently different, criminal, scary, up to no good, lazy, and so forth helps no one. Very little can be accomplished until people start looking at themselves, their view points, and the situation(s) around them with a socially aware, critical eye.

  47. Pingback: What Anti-Racism in St. Bernard Parish Could Look Like « The Czech

  48. Havlova,

    Did you or your supporters have the opportunity to go to the Greater New Orleans area, espcially the Lower Nine, and help with the recovery efforts post-Katrina? If you did, in what area did you have the good fortune to lend your support? If you did not get to go and help your brethren, why not?

  49. OOh, my supporters… yes, I dispatched my minions down to Louisiana, paid for with the money I get from Provident Realtors, who incidentally funded the mad Iranian scientists who created Katrina so that they could deviously use that as an excuse to get federal money to build low-income housing near upstanding white people, to teach black people how to milk the system better this time around to siphon more money from good upstanding white people, in anticipation of the coming race war, which blacks have been planning since emancipation, and which they will probably win since they are naturally “more violent” (ref above comments). I want to be on the side of the winners, you see.

    Now, what did that have to do with housing discrimination in St. Bernard Parish? Was there some coded message in your post, like if I read every 4th letter I will discover your plan to unite blacks and whites through equitable housing solutions?

  50. Havlová, I still haven’t seen you address the issues of the location of the proposed development being in a flood prone area away from public transit and proper medical care?

    It’s one thing to talk about the existing racism of St. Bernard, but if one cannot remove that issue from the real problems with the development, then what good is the outrage? Can one really put the safety and needs of another human behind being right about rampant racism? Honestly, which is more important here? It almost sounds as if you hope the development gets built just to show those racists without even thinking about how moving to an area that is so lacking in basic services would be extremely detrimental for anyone who’s income is below the poverty line.

    Perhaps you have information that I do not have access to that would address these issues, please enlighten me.

  51. ssurla: Why is it my responsibility to be the surveyor, city planner, city council, townhall attendent and architect?

    Usually the primary “safety and needs” of people have something to do with not being homeless.

    If people were really worried that the public housing wouldn’t be high quality enough for the poor, their criticism would include suggestions and offers of help for a better option.

  52. You are making posts that is making certain claims, so I figured you would know more about the situation than what those who are responding do. On one hand you say that you’ve done research, but when pressed for such information, you don’t seem to be able to give it. Is this like the case of the St. Bernard housing projects in the city? These projects were slated to be razed prior to Katrina and thus that plan was continued after Katrina. Many people from outside of the state started a protest not knowing much of anything about the actual situation except that public housing was going to be razed. All it took was two minutes of research to find out that these particular projects were in horrible shape and unfit for any human occupation prior to the storm, no matter how poor or desperate their circumstances are. Yet the out of state protesters didn’t even bother with that and protested just to be protesting.

    I don’t understand how people can formulate opinions about things without all of the facts. Is there rampant racism in St. Bernard Parish? Evidence points firmly that there is. Is it this racism that is causing people to protest this development? More than likely. Does those two issues negate the concerns that have been raised about access to transportation and health care? It does not.

    I’m not talking about quality of the actual housing, I’m talking general logistics of people who will have to live in public housing. Sure, you can shove people in any old structure so that they aren’t homeless, but how do they better their lives if they are stuck in an area without access to basic services such as transportation and health care.

    I would think that, if the politicians of the area are against it, perhaps this is something that should be looked into and find out if they are wild claims or if there is a bit of truth to it before supporting this developer with their intentions. The developer doesn’t care either way, they just want the money and they seem to be willing to use what ever way possible to get it. The developers bought land speculating that it would turn a profit. Perhaps THEY should have done their homework before doing such things.

  53. @ssurla:

    THIS is the kind of comment I was hoping to get on this post. Thank you for a thoughtful contribution to this discussion.

    I find the politicians’ opinions to be less than trustworthy- keep in mind these were the people who came up with the blood-relative rule.

    My research did not include doing the jobs of the land surveyors, the developers, the architects, nor researching the state of high school sports in the area (as one commenter suggested). I heard of the kerfuffle. I read articles about it. I read all the Times-Picayune articles about it. I read a large amounts of the comments on said articles to get a feel for what people are saying. I read letters to the editor.

    I looked into the Parish Council. I looked up information about the Village Square. I read through some history of St. Bernard Parish. Then I spent a lot of time looking into the timeline of the housing dispute and reading the judge’s rulings.

    The vast majority of my inquiries support my claim that the opposition to public housing is due mostly to racism, and not concerns that the housing won’t be good enough for poor blacks.

    Here’s why I think this:

    1. The way St. Bernard has tried to prevent public housing and/or the housing of blacks. Blood-relative ordinance, a ban on apartment complexes, a moratorium, the referendum idea. None of these have anything to do with safety concerns for poor blacks.

    2. The stalling around Provident’s plans has had little to do with whether the building will be safe. Even the judge could figure that out.

    3. The OUT OF TOWN DEVELOPERS!!! argument doesn’t seem credible to me, because all across the world developers buy land and build on it for profit. I find it hard to believe that the land in St. Bernard Parish can sustain houses but not apartment buildings.

    4. The argument that there aren’t enough services nearby is not credible because services usually come after demand increases, not before.

    5. No one has suggested a better alternative to housing poor blacks. That makes me believe that the goal is not to house them in the safest, most high quality housing possible, but to simply keep them out.

    6. From ample amounts of publicly available local commentary on the Provident apartments, it is clear that the major motivating factor to prevent its construction is racism against blacks.

    Not the only factor, but the predominant one.

    So as you see each of the arguments against these apartments kind of falls apart under scrutiny. Except the racism, which is very public and even appears quite nakedly in the above comments. It seems a small logical leap to me.

    As I mentioned in a later post, there are a number of ways I could have come to a different conclusion. I don’t enjoy the thought that a large group of people are motivated by racism. But it isn’t logical to conclude any differently.

  54. the demographics clearly show that poor blacks don’t live in st. bernard parish. why or how, it doesn’t matter.

    when the electorate is 90% white, that’s who you’re gonna cater to and listen to. the white people have safety concerns, racism or not, rightly or wrongly, they’re the ones who have to live next to this development.

    since this is a zoning issue, four 72 unit developments have been attempted to be classified as a “minor” subdivision, when the numbers, infrastructure needed, clearly determine that it’s not.

    a better alternative to housing would be to provide families with housing vouchers and rent individual units in neighborhoods, under the assumption that spreading out a poor population will expose them to people that could help them succeed. this is in contrast to concentrating them together in developments like this, a method that has been tried and failed all over the country.

    additionally, it has been four years since the hurricane, and at some point, the “recovery” phase needs to end. people who have been displaced are not still saving money, gathering posessions, waiting to move back if they haven’t already.

    st. bernard parish wants the best for poor people just like i’m sure everyone else does. the days of racism are over. there are no more colored water fountains, segregated schools, etc.

  55. @robert:

    Racial imbalances like the one that exists in SBP don’t usually happen by accident. Little things like poor blacks’ housing getting destroyed and then the whites resisting it’s replacement are usually involved.

    A majority voting to make life crappier for a minority is known as “tyranny of the majority“.

    Who is leading the distribution of housing vouchers to the displaced poor blacks? You personally, or Craig Taffaro? Or is that not actually happening?

    “the days of racism are over.” Well HALLELUJAH! Why didn’t anyone tell me? Could someone call the POC and let them know? When did this happen? Why wasn’t this on the news? OMG we’ve got to organize a party. Did you end it personally, or did some of your friends help? Are you telling me racial wage disparities are gone, racial familial wealth disparities are gone, black infant mortality rates are as low as whites, and defacto residential segregation has ended? That’s great!

    Wow, just a two days ago people were posting all sorts of racist bs on my site. As a matter of fact, just today I screened out some comments from SBP containing racial slurs. WAIT A MINUTE. Maybe racism isn’t over.

    Did you lie to me robert?

  56. the voucher idea is the best one. doesn’t mean it’s happening, but if it did, we could house people, they wouldn’t be crammed like sardines, and they would be spread through neighborhoods where more successful people live and have a reason to aspire to better things.

    the local newspapers have carried ads for rentals starting at $500 a month, some taking section 8. until those are exhausted and rents rise due to scarcity, there is a legitimate reason to not want more rentals on the market.

    and seriously, the people of st. bernard now deserve no blame for the actions of their ancestors. they may come from their ancestors, but the parish is what it is now, not what we want it to be or what it was before the hurricane.

    this could be happening in a bunch of different areas in the new orleans area. i’m not sure these apartments would be popular in metairie, mandeville, parts of kenner. they voted for david duke too.

    the days of racism are over because we’re not outwardly racist anymore in our everyday interactions and haven’t been for 40 years. it’s hard to change old people’s prejudices, but surely they’re dying out. i mean, they’re old. statisics like you mentioned don’t mention the feelings of the “oppressors”. they’re just raw numbers and believe me, EVERYONE would like to see them get more equal because then it would be good for everybody.

    racism died on 11-4-08 and we buried it on 1-20-09, in case you missed it

  57. Havlova do you mind me asking you where do you live? Just curious……

    All of the anger in some of these post has me stunned. Our world is getting hateful by the day. What is happening to our human race? Maybe if some could put the “R” word to rest and practice at being the better person you are trying to let everyone believe you are. What we need to do is start with our youth. They have lost all respect for people. When I was raised you didn’t disrespect you elders……today they care.

    If you ask me I think this is being rushed an not thought through. We don’t need this to be a power fight just like it is. Why build something like that before what was there hasn’t been cleaned up yet. It ‘s not any one group at fault… is everyone that lives in the parish. There are apartment buildings around the parish that nothing has been done to clean them up yet. I say take all of this anger an start tearing down some of the buildings that are just waiting to fall down.

    Even this blog all the engery going into these hateful messages, and this goes for everyone…..turn it into something positive an do some good instead of complaining so much.

    We are living in an angery world. How sad is that.

  58. Pingback: Boo « The Czech

  59. Pingback: Thanks for Noticing, New York Times « The Czech

  60. I have read this blog today for the first time and I am very sad to see that this issue is being judged by race only. I have lived in St. Bernard for the last 30 years. I rebuilt after Katrina and I am opposed to these apartments. There are many units for rent in St Bernard sitting empty right now. Units that accept section 8 or other govt. assistance. Supply and demand shows that we have a greater supply than demand. I refuse to be part of the race baiting. I work in New Orleans and this exact type of complex was just proposed on N Rampart and the people in the neighborhood (of all races) got together and said NO! New Orleans, like many big cities, began tearing down the projects. Studies have shown that warehousing people does not make a good community. Large densly populated complexes breed unhappy living conditions. This is a quality of life issue for both the people around the complex and the future tenants. I have no issue with people moving to our community and becoming a part of it, people of any and all races and religions have something to contribute to make a community better. I do not want a large complex to warehouse people. I do not think a large complex is neccessary when we have land to build homes on. In an urban setting where space is limited one has a better platform to argue for this type of complex but history has shown (thruthe housing Projects in New Orleans to the Cabrini Green in Chicago) that this is not the way to build. By all means any one should be able to move to St. Bernard Parish if they would like to but I see no reason to build a large complex. The Village Square reference that people keep bringing up is a large apt. community that St. Bernard had. It was a beautiful place when it was built and like many large complexes it was neglected over the years until it had fallen into such disrepair before Katrina that it was an eyesore. It was an area of problems. It was an area that had drug problems, prostitution, and rampant theft. This is also not a racial issue but in fact a crime issue. This is the same effect that has led to the rethinking of the “large box ” housing in urban areas. I guess I will wrap it up (or get my own blog) but for me and many others that I have spoken with it is about the quality of the life we have rebuilt in St. Bernard parish and not having that quality of life diminished. I welcome every new person to St. Bernard but lets fill the housing that people worked so hard to bring back before we build more.

  61. Pingback: St. Bernard Parish Decides Against Referendum to Ban Multi-Family Dwellings « The Czech

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