Monday, June 1, 2009

"Total unity and absolute diversity existing simulaneously without contradiction."

A reaction to PBS's American Experience: New Orleans
This program discusses the history and culture of New Orleans. While it touches on many subjects, its main focus is race issues throughout the city's history. I did not expect this when I began watching the program, I expected a history lesson followed by Katrina footage. This surprise made me think about how I might find unexpected race issues in my own photo essay project when I visit New Orleans in three weeks.

The most surprising and pleasing thing I learned from this film was the progressiveness of New Orleans' races when it was still a territory before becoming part of the Union. There were powerful people of color coexisting with powerful white people. This harmony ran through all the city's classes while race and the color of a person's skin was not an issue. That was until Louisiana became an American state and was adopted into our government. That inclusion began a cycle of exclusion that peaked mid-20th century. This centuries old cycle has just began its downward journey and it seems New Orleans is a little behind the rest of the country.

The most impressive fact I learned from this film was the pride of New Orleaneans. These people love their city and are so proud to have their roots there. This is apparent in the those that refused to leave after 2005's disaster left them with nothing. It is also apparent in those that have returned even though the city has nothing to give them, no jobs and no security. These people are willing to give to their city and expect nothing in return. This is a pride and love I want to capture in my photos.

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