A Hurricane Katrina Museum Exhibit Defiled

On Saturday, I went to the National Building Museum, which had an exhibit entitled “Newer Orleans: A Shared Space” that dealt with rebuilding plans to merge economic, social, and racial groups so that strafication would be minimized in the future.

The exhibit was small and innovative, though it is difficult to imagine implementation of a lot of strategies that seem to solve a lot of problems facing American society just through urban planning. Some interesting portions included a TV showing Dutch coverage of Hurricane Katrina — mainly, a journalist interviewing a couple of young Caucasian woman trying to escape New Orleans by fleeing on foot via the highways. Most of their answers revolved around ‘fuck them, they don’t give a shit about us’ (language actually used). Further, there were a few pictures of New Orleans before, during, and after the Hurricane, including a couple of pictures of corpses floating in the streets.

However, the portion of the exhibit most noteworthy was a guest-book left in the exhibition with approximately 30 entries, most coming from children wishing good things for New Orleans. But the other entries were filled with things like racial slurs, disdain for politics and politicians, and a general sense of malaise:

“Another legacy of the Bush Administration”, “the hurricane cleansed New Orleans of undesirable elements. Thank God for that!”

“Bush treats black people like animals”

“dirty words and pictures of dead niggers is not proper for a family museum. Shame on you!”, “Shame on who?”

The funny part of this exhibit is though some of it had vulgar language, the intent was to show design that would break down barriers that are pervasive in American society and highlighted in the Katrina disaster. Further, the most positive and uplifting message came from children who had seen the exhibit. Yet the only one’s that could not disentangle themselves from their own judgments of the event were adults, who insisted on defiling the exhibit rather than impart its wisdom.


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