NEW ORLEANS — In the special report WGNO Forward: Race in Our City, WGNO’s Tamica Lee and LBJ explore race and racism in our city, asking the experts where we are, how we got here, and what we can realistically do to make it better.
In this episode of WGNO Forward: Race in Our City, our guests address how racism plays a role in creating systemic inequality.
Housing is one area where racism and inequality can have a domino effect of bad outcomes.
“That’s why we say put housing first, because it’s the very racialized nature of the housing crisis that has allowed it to deteriorate to this point,” said Andreanecia Morris, president and chairwoman of Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA). She spoke with LBJ in Part 1 of the episode.
“The ‘welfare queen’ stereotype–that is a black woman with too many children needing public assistance–that’s allowed housing to be put in the category where it is not something we are looking to guarantee for every citizen,” continued Morris. “Even in the midst of a global health pandemic that requires that everyone be safely and sustainably housed.”
The range of systemic racism was one of the topics Tamica Lee addressed with Shawn Barney, co-founder of Campaign for Equity New Orleans (CENO), in Part 2 of the episode.
“Most people are not hateful or bigoted, but they think of it as hatred and bigotry lead to racist ideas. And that leads to racist policy and systems discrimination–when, really, we think it is the reverse,” Barney explained. “We think racist or bad policy–discriminatory policy–in systems contribute to hatred and bigotry.”
Barney gave the example of “redlining,” a collection of official policies that denied investment in black communities.
“You don’t have any investment there. And you have investment in other white communities,” said Barney. “And, folks look around and say, ‘What’s wrong with that community?'”
Disparites in health based on race was the topic of Part 3, as LBj interviewed Dr. Thomas LaVeist, dean of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. LaVeist is responsible for The Skin You’re In, a documentary and website which investigates how race affects health outcomes.
“In terms of health care, the issue is who gets access to health care,” said LaVeist. “Louisiana is notable as one of only two states in the South that did expand Medicaid, therefore bringing access to care to more people. But, the health insurance card alone does not necessarily get you access to health care. It just improves your access.”
In Part 4 of the episode, Tamica Lee spoke with Alanah Odoms, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana, about protecting the civil rights of all people.
“As the first African American woman to run the ACLU of Louisiana in our 65-year history, I really feel like it is our responsibility to focus all the work we do on combating racial and gender injustice,” Odoms said. “So, when you think about what’s happening in terms of police violence and misconduct in our society, the heart of that really stems from structural racism in our criminal legal system.”
You can see all the espisodes of WGNO Forward: Race in Our City on WGNO and WGNO.com.