Before Katrina, I dreamed of a day when our precious city would be discovered by the best and brightest, who could come and save us from years of complacency to our political corruption, institutional racism, Third World economy and decaying infrastructure.
But even as the elite and educated newcomers flock to our great city, the recent migration has not caused the catalytic change I hoped for. The NOPD is a shrinking mess, while babies are being killed at an alarming new rate. Streets are crumbling faster than we can fix them with our soon-to-be dried up federal money. And the gap between rich and poor widens as the homeless beg for money at nearly every major intersection.
During the past two years, however, these harsh realities have not deterred the rich and famous from making New Orleans their new playground. City leaders are gushing over the new demographic and planning new ways to keep them here while attracting more.
Meanwhile, I see working-class jobs being replaced by recently settled college graduates, homes being bought up by out-of-towners who are out-bidding locals with outrageous amounts of cash, developers scooping up hot properties and demanding zoning changes to build out-of-scale and out-of-character businesses. And our public schools and hospitals are being privatized right under our noses.
Our leaders say we need all this to save our economy and our city. While some natives are being dazzled by the “shiny new trinkets and glass beads,” if we are not cautious, we could be robbed of our “gold.” I welcome all newcomers as a healthy addition to our city, but decry them as replacements for those of us here before the big K. As we wake up in the “boutique city”forecast right after Katrina, perhaps we should beware of all that glitters.
This unprecedented growth may seem like a utopia to some, but for many native New Orleanians, living in the new New Orleans has already become unattainable.