Recommendations for an Antiracist Approach to New Orleans

Pamela Nath with European Dissent
Date Published: 
September 25, 2007
Recommendations for an Antiracist Approach to New Orleans

Tips on being a culturally-sensitive visitor/volunteer

•    Avoid making demands on the places and people you visit.  Efforts to rebuild the city, address the many injustices that impact people’s lives, and respond to the many visitors flooding the city post-Katrina consume lots of time and energy.  People may not be set up to drop everything to give you a tour or answer your questions.

•    Be aware that a more humane pace and laid-back approach to life is part of the culture of the city.  Accept that spontaneity and waiting can likely both play important roles in your visit to the city.

•    Whenever possible, make donations to the people and places that you visit

•    Some excerpts from Catherine Jones’ “What I Wish I Knew: My Own Goals for Anti-Racist Practice” (entire document available on the web—see web resources below)
o    Don't expect people or organizations of color to tell you how to be in solidarity with them, but be willing to modify or toss out any of your ideas if they think there's a better way for you to support them. Have a very rough plan that you can be flexible with and that's based on an authentic and accountable understanding--not just your own thoughts--of where people and organizations of color can use your support.
o    Build accountable relationships with other white anti-racists who can both support you and call you on your shit when it's necessary.
o    Give Practical Support!!!!! What are your resources that you can share with organizations of color? Maybe you can provide food or childcare or translation at meetings, maybe you can help phonebank for specific events, maybe you can volunteer to work at the front desk, give people rides, find out where a group can get donated computer equipment, or throw a fundraising party at your house. There are tons of ways for white folks to give necessary behind-the-scenes support to organizations of color.  Be willing to do what's needed. Maybe you really want to be working with some amazing and popular organization of color that doesn't actually have a whole lot of opportunities for you to plug in, while another organization down the street is doing less high-profile work but really needs some folks to help them with fundraising. Take the opportunity to be of use.
o    Be conscious about how you prioritize your work- spend a significant chunk of your time doing the stuff that really is unsexy and be conscious about what you do and don't commit your time to.
o    Take care of yourself but be real about it. Figure out the things that rejuvenate you and do them; take breaks when you need them, but don't use the excuse of "self-care" to get out of doing the work. Set realistic boundaries for yourself and stick to them
o    Don't abandon the work if it makes you feel "uncomfortable." This is a pretty common feeling when white folks are actually working with people of color. Acknowledge that you feel this way, try and figure out why, get support from other white anti-racists who you respect, and keep going. Most of us have been there.
o    Take criticism from people of color for what it is--a gift.
o    If you have political disagreements with a person or organization of color that you're doing political work with, think critically about what your issues are and where they're coming from. Don't abandon your principles simply because a person of color may have a different take on a certain idea, but don't be afraid to challenge some of your deeply-held beliefs if you find that they don't hold up when you look at them with an anti-racist framework. Be open to criticism, even criticism of your politics, if it comes from an anti-racist perspective.
o    You're gonna make mistakes. You're gonna feel embarrassed when you do. This is not a reason to stop doing the work! In my experience, if people know that you're a generally accountable person who shows up and kicks ass when you're needed, they won't take it nearly as hard if you say or do the wrong thing every now and then. But learn from your mistake, don't make it again, and do what you can to smooth things over in a principled way.
o    Build authentic and good personal, as well as political, relationships with people of color.
o    This is my motto--say less, think less, do more. Remember that you're not a whole lot of use to the movement if you're sitting in a workshop. Put your knowledge to use. The struggle needs you!
Places to Visit

•    Backstreet Cultural Museum, 1116 St. Claude Ave.  

•    Congo Square—Located in Louis Armstrong Park along the block of Rampart St.  For info, see

•    African-American History Museum  1418 Gov. Nicholls St.  (504) 586-1919

•    Ashe Cultural Arts Center   1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard (504) 569-9070.  For more about the center, see  For listing of events, see

•    St Augustine’s Catholic Church of New Orleans – 1210 Governor Nicholls St. New Orleans, LA 70116  504-525-5934  See  

•    Some “street” sites worth seeing:
o    Statue commemorating white citizen’s league behind Canal street center
o    Historical lightposts along Rampart St. that commemorate Spanish/French/US occupation
o    Insert ideas from monument tour that Freedom School ran; Pam will contact David Billings and ask about monuments.
o    Monument on Decatur Street across from Virgin records commemorating the “founding” of New Orleans
Recommendations of Grassroots Groups to support with time, money, etc.
•    People’s Hurricane Relief Fund --  See   
For volunteer registration form, go to:  
To donate online, go to: and choose PHRF from the drop down menu
To donate by check, make your check out to People's Hurricane Relief Fund and mail to:        Vanguard Public Foundation
383 Rhode Island Street
Suite 301
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 487-2111
Fax: (415) 487-2124
E-mail: vpf [at] vanguardsf [dot] org

•    Safe Streets/Strong Communities  -- See 1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.  504-522-3949  To donate, see

•    NENA – grassroots group working in the Lower 9th ward  -- Contact:  Linda Jackson 504-451-9871

•    Agenda for Children – See   For ways to get involved, see:  
1720 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 586-8509 or Toll free: 1-800-486-1712

•    Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and FFLIC (Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Youth) – See  and
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70113  504-522-5437
email: info [at] jjpl [dot] org  
For information on donating or helping in other ways, see

•    Neighborhood Storybook Project – See
To donate, see
Purchase books at:

•    Critical Resistance – for info on the national organization, see  To contact the New Orleans chapter:  504-304-3784 e-mail:  crsouth [at] criticalresistance [dot] org
•    Innocence Project – See 636 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70113 (504) 522-4766 or 522-4767 e-mail:   info [at] ip-no [dot] org
To donate, see

•    INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence – For info about the national organization, see   New Orleans chapter:  1362 Constance St
New Orleans, LA 70130  504-524-8255 e-mail:  at whji_info [at] yahoo [dot] com

•    Hope House – See  919 Saint Andrew St, New Orleans  (504) 524-7353 or 525-2561 e-mail:  

•    YA/YA, Inc.  (Young Aspirations/Young Artists) – See
601 Baronne St.   New Orleans, LA 70113   504-529-3306   E-mail: info [at] yayainc [dot] com
For info on how to volunteer or to donate, see

Meetings to Consider Attending

•    European Dissent—meets 2nd & 4th Tuesdays—begin gathering at 6:30 pm in Agenda for Children building 1720 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70130

•    Neighborhoods Partnership Network—neighborhood forums Wednesday evenings at 6 pm.  For more info on topics, see:   Also check out the calendar link on their website

Local places to stay, eat and patronize

•    Find locally owned businesses at

•    Farmers markets:  
o    Crescent City Farmers Market—Tuesdays 9 am-1 pm & Saturdays  8 am-12  noon
o    Upper Ninth  Saturdays from 1-4 pm at 3500 St. Claude Ave.

•    Marquette House Hostel  (504) 523-3014   2249 Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70130

•    Community Book Center   252 Bayou Rd   New Orleans, LA  70119   (504) 948-7323

Additional Web Resources

•    Antiracism packet available on Common Ground’s website:  (Includes Catherine Jones’ “What I Wish I Knew: My Own Goals for Anti-Racist Practice”)