This article which ran in the Dallas Morning News is an excellent summary of where race relations in New Orleans were right before Katrina and how the history and feared future of race relations here is affecting the recovery.
In a nutshell:
The racial divide affects almost every rebuilding question: which neighborhoods will be rebuilt and when; how public housing will be reconstructed; how to protect the city from future disasters; and who will call the shots – the white-dominated business community, black politicians or outsiders.
It also hits on a point I like to make, but many disagree with: A tourism-based economy is bad for the people who live here. Tourism employs paid servants at working-poor wages. The money generated by tourism never trickles down to the low wage earners. It pools in the hands of the few at the top at the expense of the masses on the bottom. As the article puts it:
Before Katrina slammed ashore on Aug. 29, the New Orleans economy was so heavily staked on jobs in hotels, restaurants, bars and other purveyors to visitors that some dubbed it a tourism ghetto.
I hope a "tourism ghetto" isn't on the list of future plans for New Orleans.