July 4th for the rest of America. But not in this part of the world. Down here, Independence Day is August 29th.
Only, on August 29th, 2005, we didn’t declare independence from our country, our country declared independence from us.
When the federally built levees broke before they were overtopped and the flood waters came in, somehow it wasn’t America’s problem. It was our problem.
Americans questioned why their money should go to rebuilding New Orleans. All of our past and present sins – corruption, crime, poverty, inadequate public education – were paraded in front of us as if they were unique to us, as if they don’t happen in any other American city.
Americans questioned why we should rebuild New Orleans when there was the potential for another hurricane to hit the area, as if natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, and flooding happen no where else in America.
It is reasonable to expect a city to be prepared to be on its own for three days after a disaster. But ten months? Parts of the city, like the Lower 9th, are still on their own, and people who call themselves Americans are trying to make it there on their own, independent of America.
I am not complaining here. I am just marking a shift in paradigms. I used to think of myself as an American first. Not anymore. I used to have a top-down view of loyalty, but now it’s bottom-up. Instead of country-state-city-neighborhood, it’s now block first, then community, then city, then state, then country – if she accepts me.
I would prefer to live in the city-state of New Orleans, sovereign and independent. Something tells me America wouldn’t mind as long as they can come and visit.