by Kevin Allman
In September 2010, Deb Cotton (who was one of 19 people shot Sunday near a second line in the Seventh Ward) wrote an essay for Gambit titled "Mainstream Media Doesn't Care About Black People: A Kanyesque Teachable Moment About Second Line Culture Bias." She was upset about a shooting that happened after a second line parade held by the Black Men Of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club — and also upset that some in the local media had, she thought, unfairly connected crime with second lines and SA&PCs, which have traditionally been a force for good in their neighborhoods:
Let's revisit for a moment the charge that second line culture is a breeding ground for murderers. New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the country - 174 killings in 2009 alone. When you have a society that parades 40 weekends a year, there’s bound to be a murder that falls on the same day and possibly within the vicinity of the parade - especially when you consider that the host clubs are by nature neighborhood-based groups that live in predominately low-income areas with high incidences of crime. ... In these troubled neighborhoods, you also have a preponderance of churches and police in addition to second line clubs, all attempting to stabilize vulnerable environments where numerous crimes happen. Yet no one blames the police or the churches for causing more crime in these areas.
The unfortunate murder that occurred on Sunday is not symptomatic of second line culture. On the contrary, it's directly attributable to deep social ills that New Orleans has yet to get a firm grasp on: a broken criminal justice system that allows murderers to get off easily and maintains bad cops which in turn undermines resident's faith in cooperating with authorities; a broken education system that leaves citizens unable to function as adults in the professional world; and a economy based on two sectors that thwart ambition and opportunities - tourism and government. To end the murder culture, one must acknowledge and address the legitimate root problems and depart from racial biases that serve to further marginalize a distressed community. The local media needs to take a hard look at the part they play in contributing to New Orleans’ societal problems and commit itself to being part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.
We'll keep you posted on Deb's progress. As of Sunday night, doctors said her condition was guarded but stable, and she is resting.