On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, displacement of New Orleans’ Black community continues

San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, September 6, 2010

by Jordan Flaherty


Sunni Patterson, whose poems and songs voice the soul of New Orleans, was pushed out the city she loves by the racially discriminatory Road Home program that has prevented her from rebuilding the home her family lived in for generations and, as a tenant, by the cost of housing that has risen 63 percent just this year. Now in Houston, she longs to return home, echoing the longing of 75 percent of Black New Orleanians who remain displaced five years after the flood.

Poet Sunni Patterson is one of New Orleans’ most beloved artists. She has performed in nearly every venue in the city, toured the U.S., and frequently appears on television and radio, from Democracy Now to Def Poetry Jam. When she performs her poems in local venues, half the crowd recites the words along with her.

But, like many who grew up here, she was forced to move away from the city she loves. She left as part of a wave of displacement that began with Katrina and still continues to this day. While hers is just one story, it is emblematic of the situation of many African American New Orleanians who no longer feel welcome in the city they were born in. Continue reading