The New Orleans Worker's Center for Racial Justice

PalabraRadio - Posted on 28 March 2010

The New Orleans Worker's Center for Racial Justice is dedicated to organizing workers across race and industry to build power and participation of workers and communities. They organize day laborers, guestworkers, and homeless residents to build movement for dignity and rights in the post-Katrina landscape.

Palabra Radio and Prometheus facilitated a 3 hour-long workshop with nearly 25 members of the congress of day laborers- all immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. In the workshop, we explored how the mass media perpetuates negative stereotypes of immigrants and the impact it has in shaping how we see the world. The Congress de day laborers is interested in using radio as a tool to build leadership within their membership, communicate about raids, share information on worker's rights and organize their community. Additionally, they would like to use the internet to foster transnational radio programming that could help members to connect with community radio stations in their home-countries.

The day before the workshop that we facilitated, the New Orleans' Center for Racial Justice participated in story-telling circles in which Latino and African American community members shared experiences that they had with the police-with the goal of building common understanding and solidarity.

This August will mark 5 years since Hurricaine Katrina made landfall and forever changed the city of New Orleans. Prior to the Hurricane, New Orleans had the highest rate of African American home ownership in the country. Now, thousands of poor folks have been displaced in the post-Katrina diaspora and for those who stayed or returned, there is little affordable housing and despite the investment in reconstruction efforts, very few of the jobs created have benefited the local working class and African-American communities.

Sess 4-5, a local hip-hop artist, producer, organizer, and co-founder of Nuthin But Fire Records grew up in the Florida-Desire projects in the 9th Ward, the area that was most devastated by Katrina. He took us to see first-hand what it looks like five years after Katrina. We saw many houses which remain abandoned and damaged and neighborhoods that lost all of their local grocery stores, health clinics, and businesses. The re-construction process is not building sufficient affordable housing and there is an ongoing struggle to make it responsive to the needs of the community members. With rapidly changing demographics in New Orleans, the Worker's Center for Racial Justice is building essential alliances between members of the African American and Latino communities to identify a common enemy and a common struggle.

Special thanks to Sess 4-5, the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center, the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, Community Gumbo on WTUL and all of the compas from the Congreso de Jornaleros.