In response to “Experts ask if New Orleans’ ‘exceptionalism’ masks grimmer reality”:

I was at Professor Reed’s talk at Tulane on the opening night of this conference. I came away thinking: Why are we speaking about authenticity or exceptionalism when we are speaking about New Orleans? Why aren’t we speaking about what really is going on? In this country, a pall has fallen over the people who gave up their individual rich heritage to assimilate into the “white privileged” group — and in doing so became bereft of all of the things that are part and parcel to culture. And so it is that whites now appropriate black culture because they feel a void (mind you, they take what they want and leave the rest). And so it is that people come to New Orleans from all over the United States because they live in cities emptied out of culture, sanitized to the point of zombification. And so they come here, yearning for something — let’s not call it authentic, let’s not call it exceptionalism, but let’s call it what it is: African American culture. It is not the blue bloods of Uptown that people are streaming in from all over the world to visit and live around; it is the African-Americans and Creoles who gave New Orleans its je ne sais quoi. I was just a little surprised that given the moniker of a professor of race, gender and class that this wasn’t what was talked about — or if it was, I missed it.

Rachel Dangermond

president, Greenlight Global Research Corp.

New Orleans