One critical part of the post-Katrina debate should be on the half-million or so people still living in exile, many of them former residents of New Orleans. In discussing this with evacuees in Houston, the largest diaspora city, I have found many of those are beginning to realize that their best hopes lie elsewhere.
Some of the reasons lie with what New Orleans is now likely to become. Many are skeptical about rebuilding plans that seem not to be focusing on working class or even middle class African Americans, except, of course, for those who happen to musicians or artists.
Indeed, rather than seeking to diversify the economy and create new entrepreneurial opportunities, most current plans for New Orleans reconstruction seem focused mainly on reemphasizing the city's role as a touristic center and a lure to upper-class, affluent whites. There has been little talk of reviving the port, trade, and industrial functions that might offer high-wage positions for local residents.