Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Treme Watch: David Simon on Pity and Tourists - James Poniewozik

Poniewozik's piece, Treme Watch: David Simon on Pity and Tourists, hit a chord with me, or should I say, that the character Sonny in Episode 2 of Treme did.

I finally watched it last night, and felt defensive/crushed about the possibility that I made someone feel such cynicism towards my volunteer work. It was an awkward moment for me putting myself in the volunteers' shoes feeling misunderstood. Fortunately I can't recall any similar real life experience during my time with New Orleanians. Those that I worked with were humble and appreciative. Courageous. They expressed themselves with an honesty that had me doing my best to work alongside them without judgement. I was thankful to be there with them, and I let them know. It's a vulnerable position to reach out for "a hand up", and a brave one, too. Had I missed the "Sonny" somehow?

Sonny's 9th Ward comment also made me remember the one time I worked in the 9th. The home owner talked to me with pride about her will to make sure her son had a school to attend and that he did his best. As a single mom, she had moved to Georgia post-flood, and wasn't sure at the time if she'd return. She did make the trips back to gut the house and clear things out. I'll never forget when she told me, "I'm not poor. I know the media tells you that we're all poor, but we're not. We're hard working people. I'm a middle class American working hard here." How much fortune in that to remind me to screw stereotypes?

Let's see what else Treme will stir up? Looking forward to the healing.

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