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WASHINGTON, U.S.A. – America’s Wire released a commentary by Jenga Mwendo, a community activist in New Orleans, who strongly objects to a New York Times magazine article that was titled “Jungleland” and depicted the city’s Lower Ninth Ward as wilderness overrun by wildlife and weeds.
Ms. Mwendo writes that while the article cites the city government’s futile attempts to improve the neighborhood, it barely mentions the overall lack of government support before and after Hurricane Katrina and the hard work by committed citizens to improve the community. “Yes, many parts of the Lower Ninth are overgrown and neglected,” she writes, “but what the article missed is that many are not. Moreover, the untold story is how city, state and federal government abandoned this community.”
Further, she adds, “the Times probably had good intentions — document the bad situation so our community can get help. But while writing about broken people, vacant lots and weeds may be sexy journalism, the community needs the outside world to understand how implicit and unconscious bias caused by a history of racism pummeled us.”
Ms. Mwendo, an urban-agriculture, community organizer in the Lower Ninth Ward and founder of the Backyard Gardeners Network, writes that “after Katrina, millions of dollars flowed into New Orleans, and the Lower Ninth was declared the glaring example of what needed rehabilitation. Yet, nearly seven years later, the French Quarter and other areas of tourism and affluence are sparkling, while few improvements have been made in the Lower Ninth.”
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“This commentary demonstrates that some minority communities have not recovered from Katrina and residents are feeling abandoned,” said Michael K. Frisby, president of America’s Wire. “The New York Times article exposed the conditions in the Lower Ninth Ward. But the residents, such as Ms. Mwendo, are looking for more. They want the nation to know that they are battling structural bias every day as they fight to save their community.”