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March 08, 2009


- stock photo, royalty-free

This weekend was the 10th Anniversary of the Salt Spring Social Justice Film Festival. I'm sure an absolute ton of work goes into this every year and it's quite amazing that it's accessible by donation trusting that people will pay what they can afford.

I pretty much only managed to take in two films. The first was about a matriarchal society in China called The Mosuo where women do not marry. They practice something calling walking marriage. If they take a lover for the evening, he must be gone by the morning. Sounds like California said the person I was with.

The second was about an area in New Orleans considered the birthplace of jazz and the civil rights movement. The district is called Faubourg Treme and the documentary was supported by famous trumpet player Wynton Marsalis.
It's an excellent documentary named Faubourg Treme: The untold Story of Black New Orleans.

I've never been to New Orleans. Unfortunately I didn't make it there pre-Katrina. And, I don't expect I'll be going anytime soon if at all because the sad part of the film is how what could have been and should have been saved as a World Heritage Site in terms of culture because of the significance of black history there, was destroyed by Katrina. About 1,800 people died. About 800,000 were displaced. And, then, perhaps even more significantly, because of the disbursement of people following Katrina across the U.S. (many not given a choice as to where they were sent), it's unlikely the area is unlikely to ever return to the vibrancy it was once famous for. That's tragic and like so many news stories, the headlines long over but seeing something like this documentary reminds you about it, makes you realize and wonder about the torturous existence of people who may never regain the life they had.

When I was watching the documentary, it became really clear that as a result of inaction, New Orleans was completely unprepared for a hurricane the magnitude of Katrina not because they had no warning of such an event but the response by FEMA (or lack of response or at the very least inadequate response) comes across in the film as yet another example of racism; systematic destruction through lack of action of an area known to be of such significance to black history and culture.

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