Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Will New Orleans Become Whites Only?

Remember this Associated Press photograph from March of 2004?

The bald man with the big smile on his face is Alphonso R. Jackson, Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (link).

Along with his responsibilities at H.U.D., Alphonso Jackson is one of the top officials charged with rebuilding New Orleans after the devastation incurred by Hurricane Katrina.

But Jackson plays another role for the Bush Administration: civil rights offender.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle on September 29th in an article written by Lori Rodriguez and Zeke Minaya ("New Orleans' racial makeup up in air"):

"It will be years before New Orleans regains the half-million population it had before Hurricane Katrina, and the population might never again be predominantly black, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said Wednesday during a visit to Houston."

""Whether we like it or not, New Orleans is not going to be 500,000 people for a long time," he said. "New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

"He said he isn't sure that the Ninth Ward, a predominantly black and poor neighborhood devastated by flooding, should be rebuilt at all. If it is, the new construction should be designed to withstand disaster, he said."

"In a meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board, the housing secretary, who is black, also criticized the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other black leaders, saying they were stirring up racial animosity in their comments about Katrina."

"I wish that the so-called black leadership would stop running around this country, like Jesse and the rest of them, making this a racial issue," the HUD chief said."


"Alphonso Jackson predicted New Orleans will slowly draw back as many as 375,000 people, but that only 35 to 40 percent of the post-Katrina population would be black."

"Jackson said that's because the worst-hit areas were low-income black neighborhoods that may never fully be repopulated."

"Prior to Katrina, the population was 67 percent black and 28 percent white."

""I'm telling you, as HUD secretary and having been a developer and a planner, that's how its going to be," he said."

Rev. Jesse Jackson responded back in the Houston Chronicle article by noting that "the racial dimension of the New Orleans crisis is not something he introduced."

On Friday, The Washington Times, in an article entitled "HUD chief foresees a 'whiter' Big Easy" credited to Brian DeBose, added more dissenting responses to Alphonso Jackson's remarks:

"Rep. Danny K. Davis, Illinois Democrat and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, quickly took issue."

""Anybody who can make that kind of projection with some degree of certainty or accuracy must have a crystal ball that I can't see or maybe they are more prophetic than any of us can imagine," he said."

"Other members of the caucus said the comments by Mr. Jackson, who is black, could be misconstrued as a goal, particularly considering his position of responsibility in the administration."

""I would beg and hope that the secretary, if that is what he is saying, would re-evaluate the situation," said Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat."

At the Huffington Post, Karen Russell makes fun of "The GOP's African-American Talking Points" which could include Alphonso Jackson's Katrina comments as "Remind Blacks That Urban Renewal Does Mean Negro Removal In New Orleans!"

Evidently, "minority outreach" has become a priority for the GOP and Jackson's HUD office was utilized last Wednesday and Thursday for a conference (link) on how "to discuss ways GOP offices can tout Republican achievements among these minority groups."

It appears that, to Alphonso Jackson, attacking Rev. Jesse Jackson is the best way to go about it, and it's not the first time that he's done so.

In September of 2004, the HUD Secretary told the Associated Press (link) that "[t]he Rev. Jesse Jackson and other black political leaders spread a message of victimization that leads most blacks to vote Democratic."

Shortly after the AP interview, Alphonso Jackson appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox cable show and took on Jackson and other black leaders while touting the GOP's record as it relates to African-Americans (cache link):

"Since the 1960s, Mr. O'Reilly, we've had people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Kwasi Mfume, Julian Bond, playing on the black community, telling them that they perceive them as victims, and the only way that we can get out of this victimization is listen to the liberal media tell us what we need."

"I don't think that the liberal media can tell me. I'm an adult. I understand exactly what I need. And so, therefore, that's one of the reasons I've gravitated toward the Republican Party, because it cares about black Americans, but it lets you be an individual at the same time."

In an editorial published at USA Today, also in September of 2004 (link), Alphonso Jackson insisted that "Republican policies are good for black Americans" and that "[t]he Bush administration is the most diverse in history because the president fills jobs on the basis of a person's capabilities and qualifications, not on the color of his or her skin."

Back in July 1999, while George W. Bush was running for President, The Drudge Report - to little attention - broke a story about how the then Texas Governor's house deed had a "whites only" clause.

Debra Dickerson wrote about it in a Salon article called "Sambos in the shadows":

"The leading Republican presidential contender has now officially joined the rogues' gallery of American leaders forced to confront, however temporarily, our nation's racist substructure and their own complicity in it. When he bought his Dallas home in 1988, the deed stipulated that it could be occupied "by white persons only, excluding bona fide servants of any race." When he sold it just after being elected governor of Texas in 1996, the clause was still there. He claims not to have known about it and, now that he knows, not to be concerned because such restrictions have long been unenforceable thanks to a 1948 Supreme Court decision, the 1968 Fair Housing Act and many subsequent state statutes."

The future HUD Secretary is also quoted in Dickerson's column:

"On the other hand, the Bush campaign points out that blacks buy and sell homes with these same deed restrictions every day. "Sure, my attorney pointed out the clause when we bought in 1990. My wife and I just laughed," says Alphonso Jackson, president of Central South West Corporation, a former Bush neighbor and an African-American."

I guess racism sure is funny when you're an affluent, black Republican.


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