Alternet - New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.” Rep. Richard H. Baker, a Republican congressman from Baton Rouge, was quoted as telling lobbyists in September 2005, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”(4)
Democrats got on board with the blank slate narrative as well. The efforts to get rid of large swaths of the city’s public housing units couldn’t have been successful without the unanimous support of New Orleans’ largely Democratic City Council. Arne Duncan, the Obama administration’s secretary of education, expressed a kind of gratitude for the devastation, telling an interviewer, “I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘we have to do better.’”
Now, 10 years later, the results of this enthusiastic promotion of a new New Orleans—one rebuilt along corporate-friendly, neoliberal lines—are clear. A recent New Orleans Advocate article describes the city as being “smaller, whiter and wealthier” than it had been prior to Katrina. New Orleans has 79 percent of the population it had in 2000, according to Census data. The city has lost almost a third of its black population since 2000, but only about eight percent of its white population. White residents made up about a quarter of the city’s population before the storm. Now they make up just under a third.