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  • Colorblind in New Orleans

       September 30, 2006

    I actually watched Monday Night Football this week. Normally, I forget that it's on unless the Packers are playing, but this week as I was flipping channels I noticed The Edge playing with Green Day on the Superdome floor. That was enough to suck me in. I watched the rest of the game, which was great (blocked punts! double reverse!).

    The NFL did a great job of recognizing that this particular Monday night game was special. The Superdome was open for business, the crowd was emotional and hey, the Saints are unbeaten! If you want a music performance that suits the importance of the occasion, you pull in the big guns: U2. The boys' soaring songs lend gravitas to the event, but they still rock, so they're fun too. Bono and the gang, aided by Green Day put on a great show punctuated by a rendition of "Beautiful Day" flavored with New Orleans references. The crowd loved. I loved it. ESPN loved it. Entertainment Weekly's Pop Watch loved it. But one Tyler D. character didn't. He said:

    I like U2 and Greenday, but I thought it was kind of strange to watch a celebration of New Orlenes and not have some sort of African-American performer involved, considering most of the communities that suffered the most from Katrina and the lack of government support were prodominantly African-American communities. I mean, U2 and Greenday are like two of the whitest bands ever, and while I realize that doesn't exclude African-American audiences from enjoying their music (and I realize the NFL has to be family-friendly since they exposed us all to nipple-gate), I'm just puzzled that some musical-artist-of-color wasn't involved. Even if they had some traditional jazz music, it would have seemed more appropriate.

    I was unaware that white people were unaffected by Hurricane Katrina. Ask our own Laura about that. I was also unaware that entertainers need to mirror the ethnicity of their audience and that it's somehow offensive if they don't. Huh. The NFL could have pulled in an all-star team of black artists and they would have just as much to do with New Orleans as Bono. I find it incredibly offensive that my whiteness or Bono's whiteness somehow means we can't really understand Hurricane Katrina and therefore it's inappropriate that we be any part of remembering it.

    Imagine if we applied that kind of reasoning everywhere. U2 shouldn't have played the Super Bowl after 9/11 either, since they're not even American. Whitney Houston wouldn't have performed the Super Bowl national anthem in 1991 because, hey, America is mostly white. Tammy Baldwin should be kicked out of Congress because the vast majority of her constituents are straight.

    When will people get it through their thick skulls that they can be represented by people who are not exactly like them? I hate to drag MLK into this, aren't we supposed to judge people by their character, not their color? Why do I feel that it's the most "liberal" among us that have yet to grasp that concept?

    Posted by at September 30, 2006 10:10 AM

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    #  September 30th, 2006 6:31 PM      themandownthehall
    Tyler D needs to get a freaking clue. There *were* jazz musicians and they *were* people of color and they played before the game and some during halftime. U2 and Greenday were the headliners because people know them. But the "other" musicians were there.  
    #  October 1st, 2006 7:25 AM      Laura
    I don't even like football and I almost watched the game, just because of the buildup!

    Now if Tyler D had made the argument that New Orleans bands and traditional New Orleans music should have been a more prominent part of the show because it encourages tourism, which assists with the rebuilding, I would have been delighted. Our jazz, zydeco, and brass second line bands are our signature sounds. People come here from all over the world for that. Many musicians lived in the 9th Ward and as we all know that area was very hard hit.

    But the concept of evaluating entertainment based on race quotas is awful. I can't imagine what it must be like to think like that.  
    #  October 1st, 2006 10:09 AM      kris
    Laura, the ESPN guys mentioned several times that the locals they talked to kept saying that what they really need is for the tourists to come back and keep pumping money into the NO economy.

    I'd be interested to hear if there was a spike in convention bookings in NO this week. I'd be a little surprised if there wasn't.  
    #  October 1st, 2006 8:50 PM      Laura
    I'll find out on Wednesday and let you know. We have a "state of the city" business briefing at our weekly networking meeting.  
    #  October 1st, 2006 8:51 PM      kris
    Cool! I hope there are more groups wanting to come than people know what to do with.

    All this talk of New Orleans makes me want some of Deb's BBQ Shrimp from New Orleans Takeout.  
    #  October 7th, 2006 2:08 PM      mbrlr
    It's not a quota call; it's an observation of a troubling reality. Face it --- we're still largely a segregated society and that's not good from either a social or legal perspective.  



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