Mary Tutwiler

Ed Blakely: New Orleans racist, lazy

by Mary Tutwiler

Ed Blakely, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s former hurricane recovery czar, has some inflammatory words to say about the Crescent City. In an Oct. 16 interview with CalTV, the University of California-Berkeley’s online television station, he characterized the residents of New Orleans as racist and lazy. In the interview, posted on YouTube, Blakely began by talking about the problems the city had getting funding from the federal government, which slowed the recovery. But Blakely, an internationally recognized urban planner who has worked in New York, California and Australia, moved on to the subject of race:

Everyone’s a racist. It’s part of what we have in this country, but it’s deeper, more viral, more visible and more entrenched in New Orleans than any place I’ve ever seen.

Now, the white community, there’s blood in the water, and they can recapture the political apparatus and kind of put their foot back on black people’s throats.

Unless the next mayor is very clever, it’s going to explode and there are going to be race riots.

It’s an appallingly irresponsible statement to characterize an entire city as a racist time bomb. (Blakely's most incendiary comments are in part two of the interview.) Blakely, who left New Orleans several months ago, appears to be tossing in a lighted match as he kicks shut the door behind him. The city is well rid of someone with so little respect for its people, culture and future. The Times-Picayune covered the story, which is followed by hundreds of comments from readers.