A while back I took a class at Amherst entitled, “Politics of Memory.” The class was focused on how we view past experiences and historical events that conflict or negate the love we have for a place (city, institution, country, etc). Is our pride for the place diminished? Or is how we recollect the past changed?
Of Spike Lee’s interviewees, I noticed that many New Orleans citizens were grappling with their displacement and rejection in relation to the love they had for their home. As we talked about in class, these people are presented as having a “social death” in their own community and unable to be a part of where they thought they belonged. I think it would be extremely hard to understand and rationalize–your love of a home, a culture, and the world that you know with the utter alienation from it. The inhabitants of New Orleans are clearly upset, and some of them seem to stick by New Orleans, despite their hardships. However, the people did not let their love of the city impact how they perceived their experience (they did not sugar-coat the trauma of Katrina and it’s impact). New Orleans witnessed a natural disaster, but the storm revealed the disproportionate “love” the city gives back to its people.