Monday, January 16, 2006

Chocolate Fudge

Among the multitude of speeches which federal, state, and local leaders pointed to Martin Luther King's values for easy political points, I believe one politician went too far.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has obviously had an exceedingly difficult job this year, and he had his share of mistakes in preparing for and managing the Katrina damage. But something about his statements today struck me as profoundly "un-MLK."
"It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans _
the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city
will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be.
You can't have New Orleans no other way..."

Now, my recollection of MLK is that he didn't want to see lines between races. He didn't want race to be part of people's decisions for hiring employees, giving loans, or whom to live next to. Is this "racist"? I don't really know.

I do know that if Lincoln, Nebraska was it by massive tornados and the mayor said we needed people to return to make the city "Lilly White" again that would strike me as odd.

I understand his point, that they need people to return to get things back to normal (and help him win re-election) ; but the "chocolate" word strikes me as folksy in a sense and, I believe, alienates the non "chocolates."

Also, does God REALLY want it?


Otto Man said...

He didn't want race to be part of people's decisions for hiring employees, giving loans, or whom to live next to.

Actually, he did -- well, the first two at least. The colorblind rhetoric of the "I Have a Dream" speech has since been twisted by conservatives to insist King would've opposed affirmative action in employment and minority-targeted federal funding agencies, but he made direct endorsements of both. He framed the matter this way: "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro."

But you're right on the bigger issue -- Nagin's call for an all-black or majority-black city isn't one he'd likely agree with.

alex supertramp said...

i think everyone is taking his words out of context -- he clearly said that God wanted NO to be a 'Chocolate City'...and I think God does, hell, everybody does --I think they finally have Atlanta, so NO is a natural progression...can you dig it?

Mr Furious said...

I can't say it came to me on my own, but since it was mentioned over at Cole's place, I can't stop thinking of Homer's jaunt through the chocolate town eating chocolate lampposts and taking bites from chocolate dogs (which then continue to bark and run around with a big chunk taken out of them...)

Nagin is an idiot.

Mr Furious said...

Link to video

Thrillhous said...

I read on CNN that Nagin clarified his remarks by saying that when he refers to chocolate he means chocolate milk, which is made with white milk and dark brown chocolate. Kind of a stretch, that is. Man I want a glass of chocolate milk now.

alex supertramp said...

it is a delicious treat, baby...god bless NO and its (creamy) vanilla filling -er uhhh suburbs......

Otto Man said...

The chocolate milk thing only dug himself deeper. He should've stuck to his original source and noted that in the song "Chocolate City," George Clinton makes sure to say "God bless the chocolate city and its vanilla suburbs." See, both are accounted for!

I do love how so many people are accusing Nagin of racism, with no one wondering how New Orleans' pre-Katrina status as a majority-black city came about. All the white folks ran away and made it a chocolate city, but Nagin's to blame for wanting to keep it that way. Right.

ORF said...

When we were kids, my younger brother LOVED chocolate milk. He wouldn't drink regular milk, but my mom really wanted him to get his calcium, so she was constantly making him chocolate (which he pronounced "shocolate") milk. Perhaps that was what he was thinking of one day when, in line with his class walking to the music room, he passed a (black) boy in the hallway going the opposite direction. His class was leaving the music room. And they stalled there and my brother greeted him saying: "Hello, Chocolate Boy." No one would have been the wiser, except someone else tattled and my brother promptly wound up in the principal's office to discuss why he was not allowed to use this kind of language.

So, all I know is, if the principal of our school thought it was an objectionable statement I don't see any reason to find Nagin's otherwise.

S.W. Anderson said...

That whole business wasn't one of Nagin's better moves, which he seems to realize. I'm sure he's caught hell from the makers of Ovaltine.

Seriously, I expect there's some apprehension in and around New Orleans about rushing into post-storm changes that leave the city's unique character and makeup forever altered. Rapid building of a whole lot of huge high-rise dwellings or square miles of little postwar Levittown-type bungalows, for two examples. A drastic shift in the city's racial composition would be another.

I can understand that.

Maybe people should back off and give Nagin a little more slack. Like his town, he's been through a lot. And the road ahead is very long and uncertain.